Talent Recap

Famous Talent Show Contestants Who Ended Up in Prison!

NBC/West Yorkshire Police/PA

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Which reality competition series do you think has a tendency to produce the most contestants that end up in the slammer?  Participating in a reality competition television show is both an exhilarating and challenging time in one’s life. Sometimes the stress of competition can lead former contestants down a self-destructive path or bring to light past transgressions. 


Following their stints on television, here are some famous talent show contestants who famously ended up in prison, including recent American Idol contestant, Cecil Ray.

‘American Idol’ Star Cecil Ray Arrested for ‘Burglary of Habitation’

Recently eliminated American Idol contestant Cecil Ray Baker was arrested on Saturday for allegedly attempting to force his way into the home of his ex-girlfriend, Mariah Lopez. Lopez, who shares a six-month old daughter with Baker, recently posted a now-viral TikTok cataloging the abuse.

ABC/Rockdale Police Cecil Ray arrested for Burglary of Habitation/ Milam County Sheriff’s Office

According to Milam County Sheriff’s Office, Baker was arrested and booked on Saturday morning. In her TikTok, Lopez wrote that she now has a restraining order against Baker. She also states that his family would likely get him out of jail within a day. He was released an hour after his arrest on a $15,000 bond.

Danny Tetley Went from X-Factor to Prison


In 2018, Forty-year-old Danny Tetley reached the semi-finals of the hit British music competition series, The X Factor

Tetley’s fame was short-lived and he is now serving a prison sentence for exploiting seven teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 16 years old, as well as two counts relating to the distribution of indecent images.

According to the judge, Tetley used his X Factor fame to exploit and groom the young boys by targeting teens at show-related events.

The judge gave him an extended sentence of 17 years; nine of which he would serve behind bars. However, that sentence was slashed in October 2020 to 14 years, following a successful appeal.

Next on deck: Phillip Blackwell Gets 17 Life Sentences

Ten years before Tetley, Phillip Blackwell competed on Season 5 of the British series, The X Factor in 2008. He did not win his season, but still went on to tour with the live show in 2009.


Ten years later, 56-year-old Blackwell pleaded guilty to rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, assault by penetration, voyeurism, and false imprisonment over a period of 22 years. All crimes are said to have occurred before his appearance on The X Factor.

The serial rapist admitted to 31 sex offenses and received 17 life sentences to run concurrently, with the possibility of a parole review after serving nine years.

From Headshot to Mugshot, Renee Alway

Renee Alway appeared on Cycle 8 of America’s Next Top Model back in 2007 and placed third in the modeling competition. 


In September 2019, she was arrested for domestic violence. Just over a year later, she was released from prison for good behavior. She served five years of a 12-year prison sentence in California. 

According to her inmate profile, Alway was booked on a slew of charges including assault with a deadly weapon and a violation of parole, among others.

Never one to skip theatrics, Alway received her latest “headshot” in the local jail and showed up to her court date with a newly shaved head.  

Instead of Hollywood, Antonella Barba Went From ‘American Idol’ to Federal Prison

A contestant on Season 6 of American Idol, Antonella Barba, finished in the top 16 in 2007. 

More than a decade later, the former contestant was arrested in October 2018 for possessing and conspiring to distribute more than 400 grams, nearly two pounds, of the opiate fentanyl in Virginia. In July 2019, Barba received a prison sentence of 45 months in federal prison.


According to Barba’s lawyers, the reason for her fall from grace was that she was devastated she didn’t perform better on American Idol.

Up next on the chopping block? Joshua Allen

Joshua Allen is a hip-hop dancer, who competed and won the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance in 2008.

Following his appearances in popular dance movies, like Footloose and Step up 3D, the dancer and actor was sentenced to a year in county jail. He pled ‘no contest’ to domestic violence a year after he was reported to have attacked his ex-girlfriend.


Following his release, Allen is expected to serve five years of probation and a year of domestic violence counseling.

Brandon Cox Went From Looking Creepy on American Idol to a 70-Year Prison Sentence

Brandon Cox was a contestant on American Idol in 2012 who made it to Hollywood. 


In April 2017, the former American Idol contestant was sentenced to 70 years in prison. Over 200 indecent images were discovered on Cox’s computer and he was found guilty in January 2017 on multiple charges of possession of child pornography.

Last but not definitely least, Lucas Holliday

Lucas Holliday, also known as the infamous ‘singing cashier’ who went viral on The Voice, was arrested in December 2017 and charged in January 2018 with felony possession of adderall.


It is not clear whether he actually served any prison or jail time.

Were you surprised by any of the names on this list?

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