Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson finished just one spot apart from each other in the first-ever “American Idol” finale back in 2002.
Now, 11 years later, the two singers’ careers could not be further apart.
Clarkson, crowned the “American Idol” winner that year, went on win three Grammys and rack up $20 million in record sales.
Guarini says that in the years since his run as “Idol” runner-up he has struggled to put food on the table for his wife and kids.
“I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough. To make sure my children, and my wife have enough,” Guarini, the father of two with wife Reina Capodici, wrote this week on his blog.
Guarini shared top billing in the movie “From Justin to Kelly” with Clarkson after their run on “Idol” and released a self-titled solo album before his label dropped him not long after.
“There was a time when I would have had a car service drive me from my home to work. Now I drive myself to the station and take the train,” he wrote. “There was a time when I wouldn’t have been concerned about the amazing expense of eating at a place like Green Symphony. Now, I budget.”
The candid view Guarini gave of his fall from fame on his blog made national headlines, prompting the singer, set to star next in a supporting role alongside Orlando Bloom in “Romeo and Juliet” on Broadway, to go on Twitter to say his life is not that bad.
“Obviously, you completely missed the point of my letter @peoplemag,” Guarini tweeted Thursday, referring to an article about him in People magazine. “News isn’t news anymore, and I’m nowhere near poverty: #twistedmytruth”
In an updated introduction to his blog post, Guarini now writes that, “Much ado has been made of this post,” and said he would, “leave its ultimate interpretation up to you [readers].”
Left for the readers to interpret are the fear Guarini admits to feeling not just in the months and years after his fame reached fever-pitch levels with “Idol” but also today, more than a decade later.
“There was a time when I put on a brave face, smiled, and laughed to show that I was impervious and unafraid,” he wrote. “Now, I’m unafraid to say that I am terrified. I am struggling to make each day meet the next without breaking down and curling up…I’ll smile, and laugh,and joke, and entertain…because sometimes it’s the only way to keep the ghosts of regret and loss at bay. I am unafraid to be afraid, and in that fear I gather strength.”
“Now I tell you all this to reintroduce myself to you,” he wrote. “As I am now. To take you with me on this new adventure, to hopefully regain and surpass all that I had before … but this time with a family. This time with grounding, and joy, and peace that comes from knowing that I love myself. Really love myself.”
“It’s very rare for a celebrity to admit he’s in pain and he’s not as successful as people imagined,” said Howard Bragman, longtime publicist and ABC News consultant. “Fame and riches do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.”