Re-Live Kelly Clarkson’s Crowning Moment On “American Idol”

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On September 4th, 2002, Kelly Clarkson was crowned the very first champion of American Idol, beating out Justin Guarini in the finale episode.

20-Year-Old Kelly Clarkson Auditions For American Idol

After working many jobs in Los Angeles, including at Papa John’s, at a zoo, and a movie theater, Kelly Clarkson moved back home to Texas because her apartment caught on fire. Not long after returning home, she heard about American Idol‘s audition in Dallas. She walked into her audition in a top made from an old pair of her jeans, and she let her confidence take over.

“Well, I had nothing to my name. Like literally, I had to make that top to go to this audition. I had, like, no clothes, no nothing. I think when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.” Clarkson giggles, “So you walk in and you’re like ‘what do I have to do to get this job?’”

After wowing the judges, Clarkson earned her “golden ticket” back to Hollywood.

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Kelly Is Safe From Elimination

Week after week, Kelly earned high praise for her performances, including “Respect,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and “It’s Raining Men.” Not only that, America kept her safe all the way until the very end!

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Kelly Is Crowned The 1st “American Idol” Champion

In the nail-biting Season One finale, it came down to Kelly and Justin Guarini. They each performed three songs, along with a duet to “It Takes Two.”

After letting the suspense almost boil over, co-host Ryan Seacrest finally revealed that Kelly Clarkson was the winner of American Idol. Immediately, Justin Guarini congratulated her as she looked in shock!

Photo by SGranitz/WireImage via Getty Images

Immediately after her win, she had to sing her crowning song, “A Moment Like This,” which she did through tears, especially when her fellow finalists came out to hug and congratulate her towards the end of the song.

Watch those moments below!

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RELATED: Before ‘Idol,’ Kelly Clarkson Admits She Never Wanted To Be Famous

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