17 Years Ago: Carrie Underwood Wins ‘American Idol’

17 years ago today, on May 25, 2005, Carrie Underwood was crowned the Season 4 winner of American Idol. The win kicked off an unbelievable career for the Oklahoma native, who remains one of the most successful American Idol contestants of all time.

Underwood beat out Bo Bice to be crowned the winner. As soon as she won, an emotional Underwood performed her debut single, “Inside Your Heaven.”

Underwood was studying journalism in college when she auditioned for Idol, after seeing a commercial that would change her life.

“The summer before my senior year, I was home one day, watching TV — the one in the living room — and saw a news segment about people auditioning for the show American Idol. I checked online. The closest auditions were being held in St. Louis,” Underwood recalled in an essay she shared with Guideposts.

It was Underwood’s mother who offered to drive her to St. Louis, never imagining that the one trip would forever alter the trajectory of her daughter’s life.

“We never even considered that she could win it at all,” Carole admitted on the Today Show. “But at least maybe she could have some face and name recognition, and she would get to be an anchor or something on one of our local TV shows in Tulsa.”

Even after Underwood won American Idol, her parents were still unaware of how quickly her life would completely change.

“It didn’t really dawn on me at that particular moment what was possibly going to happen,” Carole said. “Up to this time, it was just a competition. She won, and then my next thought [was] ‘Well, where do we go from here? … I don’t know how to do anything about any of this.'”

Only three years after Underwood won Idol, she was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

This is what we used to watch when I was little, and where I learned about people of the past and the present, and newcomers coming in and singing,” Underwood said. “It’s something that’s been a huge part of country music, and it’s wonderful to think that I’m going to be a part of it, an official part of it, not just showing up and singing every once in a while.”

Ironically, it was 11 years ago, also on May 25, that Scotty McCreery also won American Idol.

Underwood’s Denim & Rhinestones album will be released on June 10. She will embark on her The Denim & Rhinestones Tour in October, with Jimmie Allen serving as her opening act. Find more information at CarrieUnderwoodOfficial.com.