Talent Recap

See How ‘American Idol’ Runner-Up Crystal Bowersox is Giving Back

Imeh Akpanudosen Getty Images/ TikTok

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Crystal Bowersox was the runner up on the ninth season of American Idol and has since gone on to grow her solo music career. After 11 years, Crystal updated American Idol fans via TikTok on the donation jar she had at a recent show.

Crystal auditioned for American Idol as a single mom from Chicago. She started out her musical career by playing in train stations at the age of 17. As a result, she was poor and struggled to get insulin for her Type 1 Diabetes. She has shared a story of having to beg a local pharmacy in Chicago for insulin because she was out of money.

“I moved to Chicago when I was 16, and (then after age 18), I still had to be a student full-time to get health coverage under my dad,” said Crystal to Healthline when asked about her story. “But I had to work full-time too…after a while I gave up going to school, and then I was off the insurance and out of money…that should never happen to anyone.”

Crystal gained music exposure overseas in 2006 and 2007. In 2009, she had a son before auditioning for American Idol in 2010. Crystal shared her story of being a single mom on the show. 

Bowersox Turns “You Should Have Won” Into Donation Opportunity


I don’t force anyone to be on video. Gerald declined. Out of respect, he is not in this vide. Thanks to everyone in Denver who donated! #passiton #fyp

♬ original sound – Crystal Bowersox

Crystal announced on her TikTok that she recently had a “You Should Have Won” donation box at her show. She compared this box to a tip jar, but the money is not going to herself. The money instead acts as a donation for someone in need.

“Someone told me boy ‘if you had a dollar for every-time you heard that [you should have won], you’d be rich,’” Crystal said in the video. “I used to play music in the subways and people used to put money in my guitar case…I made my living from the kindness and generosity of strangers.”

Crystal posted this video after a show in Colorado. She told TikTok followers that this money was given to Gerald, a wounded veteran who did not want to be featured in the video. On her way back to Nashville, she met Gerald and his dog Molly in Kansas, she said the two were “hanging out on the street.”

Overwhelmingly Positive Response

Crystal has 23,100 followers on TikTok and 100,900 views on that video alone. There are 204 comments on the video and all are positive toward this singer’s donation box idea.

“Was at the show and gosh…you were amazing! [We are] So glad to see our donations go to an actual person!” said two fans.

Crystal’s followers didn’t seem surprised in her decision to help someone in need. Although she has not posted about having donation boxes at future shows, it seems like the practice will continue. As someone who once lived without, Crystal wants to give back in the same way that people in Chicago gave to her.

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