Did Clay Aiken Learn That He Lost American Idol Before The Results Were Revealed?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: Clay Aiken learned of the results of American Idol Season 2 before they were revealed.

The finale of American Idol Season 2 was mostly likely the closest finale the show will ever see, with Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken separated by 130,000 votes out of 24 million votes cast.


The final result, though, was not a surprise to one of the contestants, for Clay Aiken actually knew that he did not win!

Ryan Seacrest has the name of the winner on a card that he carries with him during the show.

Here is a picture of Ryan with the card in Season 5, after informing Taylor Hicks that he won American Idol Season 5…


Now, I don’t know how American Idol handles it since American Idol Season 2, but in Season 2, Seacrest had the card with him all night.

And at one point early in the Season 2 finale, Aiken got a peek at the card (it is unclear exactly how – but Aiken is noticeably taller than Seacrest – likely about four inches taller, so perhaps Seacrest was simply holding the card in such a manner that someone could read over his shoulder).

Aiken revealed on Larry King Live that yes, he DID get a peak at the card, but the backstage lights created such a glare on the card that he could not actually read it. However, he could make out the basic length of the winner’s name, and since “Ruben Studdard” is noticeably longer than “Clay Aiken,” he knew that he was not the winner.

Right before the winner was announced, Aiken whispered into Studdard’s ear that Studdard was, in fact, the winner.

I imagine Idol has precautions in place after that to avoid such an event in the future.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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