Kelly Clarkson Celebrates 18 Years Since 'American Idol' Victory

Kelly Clarkson won the very first season of American Idol in 2002, and 18 years later, she continues to be one of the show's most successful and enduring contestants. On Friday, the Texas native used social media to celebrate the anniversary of her win, posting a photo of her crowning moment on Instagram along with an encouraging caption.

"18 years ago today was the finale of the first season of American Idol and it changed my life!" she wrote. "I'm still hustlin 18 years later because I know I am blessed to have the opportunities and I still love my purpose! Find your purpose! Seek out what keeps that fire in you burning."

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In the years since Idol, Clarkson has released eight studio albums, earned multiple No. 1 songs, won three Grammy Awards and has sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She is also a coach on The Voice and hosts her own television show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, where she hosted an Idol reunion last year when original judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson appeared on the show.

"I actually genuinely do not believe we would be sitting here today if you hadn't entered the show that year," Cowell told Clarkson. "The whole premise of the show was we had to find a star who was gonna sell records. We found some great people that whole year but when you delivered that moment on that first live show, when you sang that winning song at the end ..."

"It was a game-changer," Abdul said. Jackson added, "We looked at each other at the end, at the finale, and said, 'Wow! This thing is really going to work.' I think that was the moment that we knew."

When Clarkson was crowned the winner of American Idol, she sang "A Moment Like This," which broke a record held by The Beatles for biggest jump to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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"Apart from the fact that we had so much fun, and look, to credit you Kelly, we wouldn't be here without you," Cowell said. "The fact that you're one of the most successful singers in the world."

"I have to say something about you, Kelly. Unlike the majority, you are the same person off-camera as you are on camera," he added. "You've always respected people and you've been very loyal and you're a great friend. I'm absolutely thrilled for you, genuinely. You've worked hard."