It might sound hard to believe, but " American Idol " has been on our screens for almost 20 years, first airing on Fox in 2002 with Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman hosting, and, of course, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson as the three judges in front of which numerous budding singers would try their luck (via Britannica).
While it's undergone plenty of changes in the years since, not least being revived on ABC in 2018 after a two-year hiatus, one thing never changes: There's always a whole load of drama and scandal. We could focus on the success of past contestants like Kelly Clarkson Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson, but where's the fun in that? Instead, there's plenty of controversy to look back on. From feuding judges to hopefuls being removed from the show, "American Idol" has truly had it all over the years.
Here, we look at the biggest scandals in "American Idol" history.
Season 2 sparked a voting scandal for American Idol
First, let's go all the way back to Season 2. The final two were Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, and Studdard became the winner in a closely fought battle between the two "American Idol" contestants. Indeed, out of 24 million votes, Studdard won by just 130,000 more votes, though the margin of victory had been stated as not only 130,000, but also 13,000 and 1,300 at various points.
Despite the controversy, however, it doesn't seem to have had any lasting effects on the two guys. Aiken and Studdard have remained good friends throughout the years, and they've frequently been pictured together, even appearing alongside each other on their Broadway show, the Ruben & Clay Christmas Show from 2018
The scandal in Season 12
We first caught wind of the drama in October 2012, when a video leaked to TMZ showed Minaj shouting at Carey during an audition in North Carolina. The drama escalated to the point at which even then-President Barack Obama got involved, saying that the feuding pair would "sort it out".
Both stars lasted just one year on the judging panel before leaving for new projects, and it's thought that the feud has at least cooled a little since then.
American Idol" doesn't suit everybody, but Wyatt Pike's shocking exit during Season 19 left fans stumped. Writing on Instagram at the time, Pike noted simply, "I had to leave the American Idol competition for personal reasons but am so thankful I get to play music for the rest of my life," and he promised new stuff soon. However, according to E! News, fans of the hit show were convinced his sudden departure occurred following a backstage confrontation with judge Luke Bryan.
Unfortunately, the conspiracy theories gained traction after host Ryan Seacrest announced during that very same episode that Pike had left. He'd been doing well in the competition up until that point.