''American Idol''

It Had to Be Ru

EW.com readers laud Ruben, wish Clay well. No wonder the vote was so close -- on our message boards, most people agree that both singers are winners

Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, ... | TWO OF A KIND Ruben beats out Clay to become the second American Idol, but Clay's single topped Ruben's on the charts
Image credit: Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard:Ray Mickshaw
TWO OF A KIND Ruben beats out Clay to become the second American Idol, but Clay's single topped Ruben's on the charts

EW.com readers laud Ruben, wish Clay well

What a difference a day makes on EW.com's ''American Idol'' message boards. Wednesday started with many excited Clay Aiken fans buzzing that he could ''Bridge'' the gap between himself and Ruben Studdard with his Tuesday night performance of the Simon & Garfunkel classic. Then came the news that Clay's as-yet-unreleased single was already the top-selling product on Amazon.com.

But in the end, Ruben -- the man who told People magazine he always knew he'd win, who was cheered by Oprah Winfrey, and whose signature song, after all, is titled ''Superstar'' -- took the title (and much of the glory on our boards):

Joscelyn
When the winner was announced, I was on my feet screaming ''Ruben! Ruben!'' and clapping. I am so happy for him.

NW
Ruben will definitely sell the most records, and after all that's what this competition was REALLY all about. I'm very glad that Ruben was discovered, and I think he'll be around for a long time.

mikenbham
We are very proud of our boy here in Birmingham. I agree that Clay is very talented as well but he is just a little too cheesy and uptight for me. Just close your eyes when you listen to Clay sing and you would swear it's John Davidson on a cornball ''Love Boat'' episode. Just call him Broadway Clay, which is not a bad thing. Ruben is the true Idol.

Bigeesmall
Almost too close to call, but Ruben by a smile.

Of course, not everyone is content with the result. A few Clay fans complain that the voting system is unfair -- mostly because it allows a single person to vote numerous times and is often clogged with calls:

Dave
Do away with the phone and text votes next time, or add online voting as well. I tried 3 hours to vote for Clay, and someone else can text 30 votes for Ruben? How is that fair? Granted, both are great performers, but the voting procedure should be geared for the performers, not to promote some cellular phone with text capabilities.

Dottie
Love the show, however, American Idol needs to figure out a way to first: allow everyone's vote to be heard and second: one time only.

In any case, most people agree that the choice was a tough one -- and they praise both men for their talent:

william
The best man won. A good man lost. Not bad.

Lynda D
I did not vote, but it wasn't because I couldn't get thru, but rather in the fact it was too hard to pick a winner. I thought both Ruben and Clay were fabulous, unique in their own way. Stars they will be... Good luck to both of these wildly talented young men!!!

dana
Congrats to Ruben. I am a Clay fan, and I truly feel he gave the performance of the series when he sang ''Bridge.'' But both guys are great, and I do believe that America would have been happy either way. Both will have great careers. I am proud America went for talent this year instead of image.

Based on the reaction from Entertainment Weekly readers, Ruben and Clay seem very likely to follow the example of platinum-selling Kelly Clarkson. Whether that's a good or a bad idea? well, that's still up for debate:

LesMisFan1
I will be looking forward to buying Clay's CD...but Kelly Clarkson is still #1 with my whole family! We used her song ''A Moment Like This'' at our wedding 2 months ago.

TO LesMisFan1
I'm sorry for the guests at your wedding.

What did you think of the final show and the outcome?

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Originally posted May 22, 2003