The singers are chosen by auditions in several cities throughout the United States. After over one hundred thousand contestants   audition in several locations throughout the U.S., a group is chosen by the panel of judges to continue in the competition. These singers will appear on the television show.
The televised portion of the show runs for approximately 14 weeks. Each week viewers are given the opportunity to phone in their vote for their favorite singer during a (typically) 2-hour period following the conclusion of each show. The results are announced the following night, and each week the singer with the least number of votes leaves the show. The group of singers decreases each week, until finally the one singer who remains wins the title of American Idol.
The original panel of 3 judges consisted of: music producer Randy Jackson, singer Paula Abdul, and music publisher Simon Cowell.  Later the panel increased to four judges, with the addition of Kara DioGuardi. Paula Abdul left the show after several seasons and a new celebrity judge, Ellen DeGeneres replaced her. Ellen DeGeneres left the show in 2010, after one season. American Idol has also used several temporary celebrity "guest" judges at various times.
Simon Cowell was the second of the original 3 judges to leave American Idol (Paula Abdul was the first), with only Randy Jackson remaining from the original panel of judges.
In 2011, the configuration of judges included: original judge Randy Jackson, singer Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.
Ryan Seacrest has been the host of the show since its inception. He was joined in the first season by co-host Brian Dunkleman, but has remained as the solo host from season 2 onward.
The first winner of American Idol was Kelly Clarkson. One of the most successful winners is Carrie Underwood, the winner of season 4, who has sung popular faith based songs including "Jesus take the Wheel" and won awards including the Dove Award, Academy of Country Music Award, and Grammy Awards.
The show is produced in the United States and shown on Fox Broadcasting. The producers of American Idol adapted the format and style of the show from similar successful shows in the U.K. called Pop Idol and X-Factor.
"The charity initiative Idol Gives Back raised $64 million in 2008 for groups including Children's Health Fund and Malaria No More." 
List of Winners
The winners to date:
|Season 1||Kelly Clarkson|
|Season 2||Ruben Studdard|
|Season 3||Fantasia Barrino|
|Season 4||Carrie Underwood|
|Season 5||Taylor Hicks|
|Season 6||Jordin Sparks|
|Season 7||David Cook|
|Season 8||Kris Allen|
|Season 9||Lee DeWyze|
|Season 10||Scott McCreery|
|Season 11||Phillip Phillips|
- ↑ http://hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/05/simon-cowell-de.html
- ↑ http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/show/CTVShows/20061220/American_Idol_season6_20061220/20061220/
- ↑ http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/53/P3QW.html
- ↑ Pop culture sings an `American Idol' tune, Lynn Elber, Associated Press, March 8, 2009