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'American Idol' runner-up Justin Guarini says it was obvious to 'to any objective observer' Kelly Clarkson was going to beat him

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  • Justin Guarini told Insider he knew Kelly Clarkson would win "American Idol" before votes came in.

  • The season one runner-up thought fans would've started "a riot" if he had won instead of Clarkson.

  • Guarini and Clarkson went on to star in a movie musical together and have remained friends since.

Justin Guarini said it was "evident" that Kelly Clarkson was supposed to win the first season of "American Idol" — and he wasn't the only one who felt that way.

Speaking to Insider for the Fox-ABC show's 20th anniversary, the runner-up on the first season said he felt fans would have been upset if he won the 2002 singing competition.

justin guarini looking lovingly at kelly clarkson on the season one finale of american idol
Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson competed on season one of "American Idol."Fred Prouser_Reuters

Video: Ryan Seacrest on the impact of his 'American Idol' job

Before the winner was announced, Guarini said he remembered standing off-stage with Nigel Lythgoe, the show's executive producer at the time, watching Clarkson perform "A Moment Like This."

The singer said he told Lythgoe, "If I win this thing, you're going to have to hire some extra security." He recalled that the executive producer "snapped his head over" to Guarini and asked why.

Guarini said he pointed to Clarkson and asked the producer, "Do you see that? And hear that?"

"I was like, 'If I win this thing, there's going to be a riot,'" Guarini said. "Because it was so apparent to any objective observer that Kelly was the one to win."

justin guarini singing on season one of american idol in 2022
Justin Guarini was the show's first runner-up.Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX

Still, Guarini said he was excited for Clarkson when she won "American Idol." He said that he had grown close to Clarkson and many other finalists throughout the season and that he was "genuinely joyful" when host Ryan Seacrest announced that she won.

"It just was so evident, to me even, that my friend was supposed to win and that it was right," Guarini told Insider.

Now, Guarini says he remains one of Clarkson's 'biggest fans'

Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Justin Guarini sit on a couch in front of Kelly Clarkson next to sign with
Justin Guarini went on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" in 2019.NBC Universal, Inc./Getty Images

Guarini and Clarkson, who were 23 and 20 respectively when they competed on season one, are still friends today.

In 2019, Guarini even joined guests Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon Cowell on NBC's "The Kelly Clarkson Show" to reminisce about "American Idol" and the musical comedy "From Justin to Kelly" (2003).

"I will always be one of her biggest fans because I was there from the beginning and got to see her progression," Guarini told Insider.

He also said Clarkson is able to connect with her fans "so deeply" because she is relatable and authentic.

"One of my favorite things about Kelly is that who you hear on the TV is exactly who you see and hear backstage," Guarini said. "In any given situation, she has always been so herself."

Read the original article on Insider