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‘American Idol’ — Lionel Richie sobs at bullying story in emotional new trailer

'American Idol' judge Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie was sobbing in the 'American Idol' season 20 trailer. (Image credit: Getty Images)

American Idol season 20 kicked off with a moving trailer to celebrate its milestone which featured long-time host Ryan Seacrest and returning judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan.

The trailer started with a nostalgic glimpse at previous American Idol success stories, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Gabby Barrett, and Jennifer Hudson, followed by the important question, “What if they were never discovered?”

As the judges get ready to find the next superstar, the trailer also offered a look at some of the aspiring singers this season, who are hoping to make it to Hollywood. The contestants shared some harrowing stories, with one in particular leaving Lionel in tears.

“I was bullied a lot, I never thought that I would be here in a million years,” the Idol revealed as an emotional Lionel wiped his teary eyes with a tissue.

With it being the monumental 20th season, American Idol has decided to add something extra special for the occasion— the Platinum Ticket. The trailer sees Katy explain that the Platinum Ticket is given to one lucky contestant in each city, which then enables them to go to Hollywood Week with shortcuts. 

American Idol has been on the hunt for superstars since 2002 and is one of the most successful singing competitions. Kelly Clarkson was crowned the show’s first-ever winner in 2002, and the last season saw singer-songwriter Chayce Beckham be crowned the winner.

Since its release, the show has had a revolving door of judges over the years, including Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and many more.

Current judge Katy Perry revealed to Hollywood Life: “We love our jobs. As Lionel said, it doesn’t feel like we are working because we love what we do. We find a lot of actual dreams come true. We have the power to give a lottery ticket to change somebody’s life. That feels really good.”

American Idol airs Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8pm ET/PT on ABC. 

Grace is a digital writer with WhatToWatch.com, where she writes series guides for must-watch shows and the latest TV news. She graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2020 with a degree in Writing and Film Studies, which only made her love for creative writing, film, and TV grow stronger.


Some of her favourite TV shows are Line of Duty, Fresh Meat, The Great British Bake Off, and Gogglebox. In her spare time, Grace likes to explore new places with her friends and family and, of course, watch and read about the latest films and TV series!