Since then, she has become one of the most successful "Idol" alums ever, releasing five albums (her latest, Stronger, landed the #2 spot on the Billboard albums chart), winning two Grammy Awards and solidifying herself as a pop diva who belts out powerful breakup anthems.
Yet, looking back on that night that America voted her the winner, Clarkson recalls her hesitation in becoming the pop star she always imagined herself to be.
"Honestly, even the night I won, I remember Justin [Guarini] and I talking. We were just like, 'Oh, I don't know if this is really what I want to do,' because it's a lot," Clarkson revealed to MTV News. "But I just really loved singing, and at the end of the day, it's worth it."
Clarkson has made the most of her time since that night in 2002, but has this journey been exactly how she pictured it? "Actually, this is exactly what I thought it was gonna be like," Clarkson said. "I never was that kid that was, like, smoke and mirrors. I knew it was going to be hard work, and I knew there'd be a lot of sacrifice."
Even with all her successes over the years, there have been some low points for Clarkson as well. Prior to the release of her third album, My December, it was publicly known she was at odds with her label over the album. But Clarkson said, if given the opportunity, she wouldn't change anything about that time in her life or her career.
"Not even the crappy stuff," she said. "Because it all builds your character. It molds you, and you go through it for a reason. No, I wouldn't change anything."
Now, in between her busy work schedule, the "Mr. Know It All" singer still finds time to watch the show that started it all, but she has yet to watch former "Idol" judge Simon Cowell's new show, "X Factor."
"I watch all of them," Clarkson said. "I haven't seen ['X Factor'] because I've been out of the country, but I watch 'The Voice,' I watch 'American Idol' — I watch all of it."
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