Competition contestants all dream of hitting the big time, but surprisingly, several American Idol singers have quit fame for a quiet life.

American Idol is currently on the hunt for the US’s next biggest artist and their 20th winner. Huntergirl, Cameron Whitcomb, and Nicolina are well on their way to stardom as the faves from Hollywood week.

For some American Idols, however, the life of fame and fortune wasn’t for them; it could be flopped careers or simply because the spotlight was too overwhelming.

One has become an Uber driver, so who knows, maybe you were chauffeured by a former celeb.

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The Quest | Teaser Trailer | Disney+

The Quest | Teaser Trailer | Disney+

These former American Idol singers quit fame and fortune

Corey Clark

The 41-year-old participated in the second season in 2003 and became one of the final 32. Clark was disqualified by producers after it was revealed he had been arrested over an incident that involved his younger sister, Alysha Clark, who is now a WNBA player.

In October 2015, TMZ spotted the former singer driving an Uber in Beverly Hills. Although it had been 12 years, the internet still remembered his former star status.

Jasmine Murray

The season 8 crooner became a beauty queen in 2014. She was crowned Miss Mississippi after placing 12th – 13th on Idol alongside Jorge Núñez. Post-Idol, she competed in Miss America 2015 and was one of the top ten finalists.

Murray is now an Instagram influencer who regularly posts fashion tips on socials.

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Jessica Sierra

Sierra placed tenth on season 4 in 2005 and went on to release an EP in 2006, titled Deepest Secret, and the single, Unbroken, in 2008, under Verge Management.

She participated in VH1’s Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew in 2007 and reportedly worked at Hooters. Sierra did attempt to relaunch her career with the release of Enough, in 2010. That same year, the 36-year-old told Radar Online that she’s juggling studio time with being a stay-at-home mom, though she’s no longer in the spotlight.

Ramiele Malubay

The 34-year-old was the ninth-place finalist on American Idol season 7. A year after her elimination, she sang the US national anthem at Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Ángel Cotto’s fight at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Malubay has since become a nurse, though she released an original song called Kaya in 2021. When she’s not on the clock, she’s managing her Etsy store which sells handcrafted scrub caps and face masks.

William Hung

Hung didn’t even make it through auditions, but the then-20-year-old gained legions of fans with his interesting rendition of Ricky Martin’s She Bangs in season 3.

At the time, he was a civil engineering student at UC Berkeley. His audition had the three judges restraining their laughter, with Simon Cowell commenting: “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, so what do you want me to say?”, but the hopeful pop star remained positive: “I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.”

Despite not even passing the first round, he scored a record deal and released three albums. His debut, Inspiration, peaked at number 34 on the Billboard 200, which is the current spot of Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City – let that sink in.

Inspiration sold 200,00 copies, thanks to his promotions on Jay Leno and at a Golden State Warriors game. The subsequent two albums were less successful, boasting sales of 35,000 and 7000 respectively.

Hung eventually retired from music in 2011 and became a statistical analyst for the LA County Sheriff’s Department and joined the Department of Public Health around 2014.

The 39-year-old did make a comeback on Idol in 2016 with a performance of She Bangs on the season 15 finale.

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Yasmine Leung
Yasmine Leung

Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.

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