In its 11-season run, American Idol has had only one Latino winner—proud part-Puerto Rican country singer Scotty McCreery (season 10)—which is why we rounded up 10 contestants we think deserved to win. So while we root for season 12's Breanna Steer, Tenna Torres, Lazaro Arbos, Devin Velez, and Elijah Liu and continue to mourn the elimination of mariachi songstress Victoria Acosta, check out our list of Idol winners.
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A.J. Gil, Season 1
American Idol’s very first Latino competitor, then-17-year-old Mexican American singer A.J. Gil, received a standing ovation from Randy Jackson for his “Star-Spangled Banner” audition in Seattle before finishing in 8th place.
David Archuleta, Season 7
The Honduran and Spanish singer soared to fame after being runner up on American Idol. This year, Archuleta is releasing his sixth album No Matter How Far (due Mar. 26) following Archuleta's fifth album, Begin, which hit #28 on Billboard’s Top 200 last year. Winning!
Jason Castro, Season 7
Who can forget dread-headed Colombian singer Jason Castro? Finishing in third, Castro signed with Atlantic Records shortly after Idol and released his self-titled debut album on April 13, 2010. Today, he's happily married, has a daughter named Madeline, and released a gospel album called Only a Mountain on his new Christian label Word Records earlier this year.
Syesha Mercado, Season 7
This Puerto Rican Connecticut native was part of Idol’s most Latin season ever and continued to wow judges throughout, landing her in 3rd place. The then-20-year-old singer, who was celebrating her father’s graduation from rehab, auditioned for the judges by singing the Queen of Soul’s feminist anthem “Think.”
Allison Iraheta, Season 8
When Salvadoran American rockera Allison Iraheta first stepped to the scene with her “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” audition, we instantly fell in love. Perhaps her most memorable moment was her rendition of the 1963 soul classic “Cry Baby,” which propelled mentor Slash to Tweet: "Alison didn't deserve to be voted off AI so soon, she has amazing potential.” We agree.
Andrew Garcia, Season 9
The Mexican American singer came out with a bang when he sang Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” during his Idol audition. He continued to impress judges with his super creative acoustic rendition of Paula Abdul’s megahit “Straight Up” before finishing in 9th place.
Stefano Langone, Season 10
Mexican American Idol alum Stefano Langone has the look (and lips) to be a pop sensation. It’s no surprise season 10’s resident romantic signed to Hollywood Records in 2012, sharing a label with Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. Watch out for his debut album out this May.
Karen Rodriguez, Season 10
Bilingual New York native Karen Rodriguez wasted no time impressing judges, including her own idol J.Lo, with her rendition of Whitney Houston's "You Give Good Love" at her audition. Sadly, Rodriguez, who also performed Selena’s “No Me Queda Más,” came in 12th place. The question is: Where is she now?
Jessica Sanchez, Season 11
We were heartbroken when Mexican Filipina R&B singer Jessica Sanchez didn’t win Idol last season. But don’t worry. The runner up, who signed to Interscope Records, will be making an appearance on Glee this season. Yay!!!
Camile Velasco, Season 3
This Spanish songstress started off working at her parent's IHOP restaurant in Hawaii before coming in 9th on Idol. Always reppin' idol Bob Marley's signature red, green and gold, Velasco partnered with Stephen Marley on her rendition of reggae classic "Guava Jelly." Often compared to hip hop goddess Lauren Hill (another idol), she is currently working on an album with Up Above Records.