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NOW / 2004

Jon Peter Lewis
The guy Simon Cowell said looked like "a pen salesman" released a solo album

Idol Appearance: Season 3
How He Did: 8th place.
No, Simon, he didn't go on to sell office supplies. But "some people still go, 'Hey, you're the pen salesman,'" says the single Lewis, 27, of his Cowell-given nickname. In fact, he released his debut album, Stories from Hollywood, in 2006. Next up: a club tour. And so what if the venues aren't exactly stadiums? "It doesn't matter if I'm not huge," says Lewis. "I can support myself and do what I love. That's the American dream, isn't it?"

NOW / 2003

Julia DeMato
She's busy cutting hair and being a mom

Idol Appearance: Season 2
How She Did: 10th place
Being on Idol "has its good qualities and its bad," says DeMato, 28. The good? "I proved a lot to myself, because I'd never sung in front of anyone before." The bad? Seeing her name in the papers after she got arrested for DUI and drug possession in 2005. DeMato, who lives in Brookfield, Conn., now works as a hairstylist at her sister's salon, but the single mom gets in singing practice at home with son James, 1.

NOW / 2003

Trenyce
She's strutting her stuff on stages across the country

Idol Appearance: Season 2
How She Did: 5th place

Trenyce Cobbins will never forget those Idol jitters. "You know the music when the show comes on? To this day it makes my stomach fall," she says. Now a seasoned pro, the single Cobbins, 27, has been in six theater productions, including 2006's V: The Ultimate Variety Show, (above), a Vegas-based multi-act revue. Currently, Cobbins is touring in the musical Love in the Nick of Tyme with Morris Chestnut. Says Cobbins: "Performing is the air that I breathe."

NOW / 2004

Jasmine Trias
The Aloha girl made a splash in the Philippines and under the lights in Las Vegas

Idol Appearance: Season 3
How She Did: 3rd place
"To this day I'm that girl from Hawaii with the flower in her hair," says Trias, 20, of fans who recognize her. After going on tour in the Philippines, Trias cut a solo CD there. She also appeared in a Hawaiian music act in Vegas (left) earlier this year. And though she plans to move to L.A. to get into acting, "I also want to open up a salon and a spa," says Trias. "That's always been my dream."

NOW / 2002

Nikki McKibbin
The rocker is a vocal coach, and she's getting married

Idol Appearance: Season 1
How She Did: 3rd place
Though she still makes music, McKibbin, 28 (above, on the set of her 2006 video for the single "The Lie"), also spends time giving voice lessons to kids. Plus, she's planning a July wedding to her childhood roller-skating coach Craig Sadler, 38. Meeting him again at a bar near her Fort Worth home last year, "I got butterflies," says McKibbin, whose son Tristen, from a former relationship, is now 9. "It's been like that ever since."

NOW / 2004

William Hung
The show's most notorious reject says Idol made him rich

Idol Appearance: Season 3
How He Did: Never made it past the first audition
For someone who butchered Ricky Martin's "She Bangs," Hung has had a surprisingly lucrative "singing" career. His 2004 CD of covers "Inspirations," hit the Billboard Top 40, and Hung, 24, says he's earned over $1 million since Idol. These days, he warbles for fans at mall appearances. "They ask for pictures and autographs," says Hung. "It happens a lot."

NOW / 2003

Carmen Rasmusen
From schoolkid to married woman—with a record deal

Idol Appearance: Season 2
How She Did: 6th place
Just 17 on Idol, Rasmusen had to squeeze schoolwork into the show's hectic schedule. "I'd be reading a book while someone was doing my hair," she recalls. Now 22, Rasmusen is married to banker Brad Herbert (right), reports on Idol for MSNBC and has signed her first record deal, for a country CD. In her native Salt Lake City, she remains a local celebrity. "I [still] have people tell me, 'My mom voted for you 200 times,'" she says.

How she lost the weight!

NOW / 2004

Diana DeGarmo

Season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo has kept busy recording an album and starring in the Broadway musical Hairspray. Her latest big accomplishment? Dropping three dress sizes—she's now a size 4! "The first time I put on size 26 waist jeans, I was jumping around the store," says DeGarmo, 19, who follows a protein-rich diet, eating lots of brown rice, sweet potatoes and fish. But once a week, she lets herself splurge. "I'll get an egg-white omelet and a waffle with butter and syrup and eat half of each," she says. "It keeps me sane." As for exercise, DeGarmo does cardio and strength training four times a week. Currently working on her second album, she admits she's psyched to show off her new bod in music videos. "Bring on the bikinis, bring on the animals and bring on the water hose," she says. "I'm ready for it all."

NOW / 2005

Scott Savol
He's recently married and still making music

Idol Appearance: Season 4
How He Did: 5th place
The best thing that's happened to him since Idol? "I got married over the summer, so I'm enjoying married life," says Savol, 30, the father of Brandon, 5, from a previous relationship. Now settled in Nashville with wife Rochelle, a childhood friend, Savol spends his days concentrating on writing pop songs and recording an album. "American Idol has opened so many doors for me," he says.

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