Kelly Clarkson and Simon Cowell go way back.
After performing the song “Whole Lotta Woman” at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas Sunday, the host had a spontaneous reunion with Simon Cowell. The moment came 16 years after he discovered Clarkson’s talents and fans named her the first American Idol winner.
Cowell appeared onstage to introduce Camilla Cabello and Pharrell Williams‘ joint acts—but before he could do that, Clarkson ran over to him and gave him a big hug. “That was bloody fantastic. What can I say?” Cowell said of her powerful performance. “I am very proud of you.”
Clarkson isn’t Cowell’s only protégé, of course. He left American Idol in 2010 to start the U.S. version of The X Factor, where Cabello’s audition blew him away. He put her in one of the groups—Fifth Harmony—along with Ally Brooke, Dinah Jane, Lauren Jauregui and Normani. Although they finished in third place, they later became a multiplatinum global phenomenon.
2018 Billboard Music Awards: Red Carpet Fashion
The X Factor ended after two seasons on FOX, and Cowell joined NBC’s America’s Got Talent as a judge in Season 11. After 15 seasons airing on Fox, American Idol ended in 2015. ABC revived the talent competition earlier this year, and the Season 16 finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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