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10 things you should know about 'American Idol'

Over the past five years, so many of us have been sucked into "The American Idol" vortex. Admit it -- we're totally addicted! Here are 10 awesome facts every obsessed fan should know:

1. "American Idol" originated in Great Britain as "Pop Idol," and was brought to the U.S. by creator Simon Fuller.
2. Season 1 co-host Brian Dunkleman was originally from Buffalo!
3. Kelly Clarkson, as the first season winner and most successful Idol, broke a record held by the Beatles when her hit single "A Moment Like This" jumped from No. 52 to No. 1, the biggest jump in Billboard history.
4. Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken saw the results card backstage prior to the show, and therefore knew in advance he had not won! Ryan Seacrest now holds a blank card when announcing the winner.
5. Season 3 audition reject William Hung is the 11th-best selling artist to emerge from Idol, beating out runners-up Katherine McPhee, Diana DeGarmo and Justin Guarini.
6. Winners Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks are the only three contestants never to be in the bottom three.
7. "American Idol" is broadcast in more than 100 countries, and the Idol franchise itself has spread to more than 30, starting competitions such as "Australian Idol", "Music Idol" (Bulgaria), "Nouvelle Star" (France), "Superstar KZ" (Kazakhstan) and "Singapore Idol."
8. A Web site called VoteForTheWorst.com, supported by Howard Stern, encourages viewers to vote for the least-talented contestant to make the show funnier. This is rumored to be the reason so many talented singers are eliminated so early, while less-talented singers make it so far. So far no legal action has been taken against the site administrators.
9. Aside from "American Idol" where he makes $38 million a season, Simon Cowell owns a record company, produces six other TV shows and manages two classical singing groups. Forbes Magazine reports that Cowell brings in $43 million from just the entertainment business, but according to Wikipedia, his total salary is a whopping $125 million!
10. "American Idol" has been renewed through 2011 -- so we'll just have to endure this television phenomenon for at least four more years. I don't know about you, but I'm up to the challenge!

Sara Elizabeth Genco is an Alden homeschooler.

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