Talent Recap

‘American Idol’ Star William Hung Opens Up About His Gambling Addiction

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

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It’s been 20 years since William Hung went viral during the third season of American Idol for his audition to Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Recently, Hung opened up about how a gambling addiction impacted his life.


William Hung Discusses Life After American Idol

In 2004, Hung’s out-of-tune audition for American Idol went viral, leading to brief stardom. He released an album called Inspiration and had cameos on shows like Arrested Development and in TV commercials. However, it didn’t last forever.

“In this situation, very few people can stay on top for long,” Hung told People. “So after a little while, I thought, I don’t want to waste my life, so I went back to school, finished my degree and looked for a stable job. That was OK with me. I’d already gotten more out of American Idol than I ever could have expected.”

Hung earned an MBA in mathematics and worked as a statistical analyst for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. As he explained, “I like data, playing with numbers and computers, so it was something I enjoyed.”


However, Hung went on to share that he quit that job three years ago to become a professional poker player, having done it on the side for a while. He said he “was earning way more doing that than I was at my regular job.”

SEE ALSO: MAN QUITS HIS JOB WITH HELP FROM ‘AMERICAN IDOL’S WILLIAM HUNG

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Hung Reveals He Developed a Gambling Addiction

Hung’s time as a professional poker player worked out well for him at first, but the star revealed to People that he ended up developing a gambling addiction that destroyed his marriage.


“I knew I was good at poker, but then I got greedy. I got into sports betting. The whole gamut. I know better [now]. I wasn’t supposed to do those things, but I did it anyway,” Hung explained. “And I paid for it. I got divorced, and I learned I had to be smart about which risks I chose to take.”

Last year, Hung shared a post on his LinkedIn page addressed to his addiction, writing, “Things went downhill fast when my ex-wife found out about you.” As encouraged by a friend, Hung attended Gambling Anonymous.

Since then, Hung has remarried and gone back to his job as a statistical analyst. He said starting a family with his wife Hannah is “a work in progress.”

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