Clay Aiken: Snapshot

Clay Aiken
Date of Birth
November 30, 1978
Birth Place
Raleigh, N.C.
After first planning to audition for Amazing Race, Clay Aiken gave American Idol a shot instead. Due to the dedication of his "Claymates," Aiken ended the second season as runner-up to Ruben Studdard.

Although Aiken studied special education, music has always been his passion. His debut single, "This Is the Night," bested Elton John's record-holding "Candle in the Wind" for first-week sales, and subsequent albums – including The Measure of a Man and On My Way Here – also topped the charts.

In his personal life, the newly minted Broadway star, who has long kept mum about his sexuality, revealed he's gay on the cover of PEOPLE in 2008 after the birth of his son Parker, whom he had through in vitro fertilization with longtime friend Jaymes Foster. After a break from the limelight, Aiken announced in 2014 that he planned to run for Congress in North Carolina.

Clay Aiken: Five Fun Facts

  1. Every Christmas Clay Aiken arranges his family's porcelain nativity scene on the living-room bookcase. "That's my favorite part," he told PEOPLE in 2004.
  2. Clay Aiken's white shirt, black pants and a pair of shoes he wore in an early round of American Idol were on display at the North Carolina Museum of History for 7 months before becoming a permanent part of the museum's collection.
  3. Clay Aiken is followed around the country by "Claymates," throngs of adoring women who mail him panties (mostly red and lacy ones) or throw them at the stage while he's performing.
  4. Clay Aiken beat Oprah Winfrey for the top spot on the "10 Best-Mannered People of 2003."
  5. The American Idol stylists used a flatiron on Clay Aiken's hair, and now he does it himself. "Sometimes I'll look in the mirror when I'm doing it and think about how much has changed."

Clay Aiken: Biography


Clay Aiken

A Star is Born

A 5-year-old Aiken makes his performing debut as the mascot at a Raleigh, N.C., high school dance. The kindergartener sings the song that Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton performed as a duet: "Islands in the Stream."


Clay Aiken

Clay Hits the Stage

In his first headlining role, 16-year-old Aiken stars in his high school's production of Oklahoma!.


Clay Aiken

October 27

Enter Idol

Studying to be a special-education teacher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Aiken tries out in Atlanta for the second season of American Idol. Though the judges aren't crazy about his look – "Simon said, 'You don't look like a pop star,'" Aiken tells PEOPLE in 2006 – his rendition of "Always and Forever" is enough to get him to Hollywood.

Read More on Clay Aiken's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: MR Photo/Corbis Outline


Edited by Julia Wang

Clay Aiken

Celebrity Central / Top 25 Celebs