It’s been 18 years since Kelly Clarkson shot to fame as the first ever winner of American Idol and she celebrated the major milestone across her social media pages on Friday, September 4. The Voice coach acknowledged the anniversary with a throwback photo of herself taken during the Season 1 finale as she opened up about how the singing competition “changed [her] life.”
In an upload posted to her Instagram account, which can be seen here, Kelly hugged one of her fellow contestants while Nikki McKibbin and second place finisher Justin Guarini looked on and the red, white, and blue confetti fell. The photo was taken mere seconds after she finished her performance of her winner’s song, “A Moment Like This.”
In the caption, Kelly shared an inspiring message for her 5 million followers.
“18 years ago today was the finale of the first season of American Idol and it changed my life! I’m still hustlin 18 years later because I know I am blessed to have the opportunities and I still love my purpose!” she wrote.
“Find your purpose! Seek out what keeps that fire in you burning,” the mom of two continued, adding a fire and heart emoji.
The upload has received more than 198,000 likes in 12 hours and over 3,300 comments. Many told the “I Dare You” singer about how they voted for her in the comments section.
“Voted so many times for you the whole season!!! Well deserved and so amazing to watch you continue to slayyyyy!!” one fan gushed.
iHeartRadio also left a clever message on Kelly’s post.
“Our sole purpose is to belt out ‘Since U Been Gone’ while driving down a highway. You have given us everything we could ever dream of Kelly!” they wrote. The account also congratulated her on the major milestone.
Longtime American Idol host Ryan Seacrest showed his support by liking the post.
Kelly’s been very vocal about how grateful she is to the show and has spoken out many times about how she was struggling before winning the series back in 2002.
In May, she reminisced about how she was homeless before her first audition after her apartment in Los Angeles burned down. She said during an interview with Hollywood Outbreak that she had to live in her car for two days and then drove home to Texas to try out for the show.
She added she also had so little at the time that she had to make her own top and was forced to wear a pair of old “horrible” pants she didn’t even like because she had nothing else.