September 4, 2002 Millions of home-viewers cast their vote by phone for the 20-year-old Texan in the first season of the hit singing contest. A former cocktail waitress, Clarkson won a record contract as the first American Idol. She would move on to an extraordinarily successful music career, selling millions of albums. Based on Britain's 'Pop Idol,' 'American Idol' was picked up by Fox after being rejected by several other networks. The show became one of the most popular in the U.S., generating several other popular talent contests. Other 'American Idol' contestants include Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Chris Daughtry.