Pia Toscano: Why Losing 'American Idol' Might Be Best Thing

Pia Toscano could easily follow footsteps of Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson.

April 11, 2011, 10:23 AM

April 11, 2011— -- Winning isn't everything, and losing "American Idol" could turn out to be the best thing for Pia Toscano.

Her surprising elimination Thursday has already resulted in boffo exposure and a platform for selling millions of records when she inks a deal.

"I was completely blown away," Toscano told ABC News Radio's Andrea Dresdale about America's reaction. "I was kind of like in an 'American Idol' bubble. When I was on stage and got eliminated I was thinking, 'It's over, I'm going and it's so soon.'

"I did not expect to have the support that I have now. I'm just so blown away, thankful, and I hope to do my music and make everybody proud."

Contrary to reports that Toscano has already secured a record deal with Interscope, which is run by Season 10 mentor Jimmy Iovine, the 22-year-old singer said nothing has been signed.

"It's been such a whirlwind," said Toscano, who returned Sunday to her hometown of Howard Beach, N.Y., and has already made an appearance on "Regis and Kelly."

"There's been so many great opportunities. But I'm focusing right now on the tour. Possibly you'll hear something after the tour."

Toscano, who auditioned for "Idol" five times and only made it as far as the Hollywood round previously, said she's looking forward to performing on the tour without the pressures of being judged and being on live television, which she called "nerve wracking."

America may have been shocked when Toscano got the boot but she had a feeling it was coming.

"I don't know what it was," she told reporters during a conference call Friday. "I didn't feel bad about my performance Wednesday night, and I wouldn't change a thing. But you know when you have that feeling in your stomach?

"I actually said it to my parents and they were like, 'Don't think like that, please don't think like that.' But whenever I have a feeling like that, it usually happens. My instincts are very good. I wish they weren't so good sometimes."

Those instincts might serve her well in the future. Her album will have to wait until the "Idol" winner releases his or her coronation single. But Toscano is already thinking she'd like to include a mix of "big ballads, because that's where my heart is" and "fun up-tempo" numbers."

Even with the "Idol" winner getting a headstart, Toscano could easily overshadow him or her, a possibility she has already acknowledged.

Asked on "Regis and Kelly" if losing is better, she replied coyly, "Often that happens."

Just ask Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert and Clay Aiken. They've each gone on to award-winning careers with scores of devoted fans.

Since her ouster, Toscano is learning just how many fans she has, including some famous ones. Previous "Idol" contestants Hudson and Daughtry and actors Tom Hanks and Dax Shepard have reached out to Toscano.

"These are people I looked up to and the fact that they are supporting me ... it really lifted my spirits."

"It's nice to see," her father, Pasquale Toscano, told ABCNews.com. "Coming out of the show you would think she wasn't well received. But the reaction since tells you otherwise. All the exposure is a positive for her career."

Here are some other "Idol" losers who won in the end:

'Idol' Losers Who've Won Big

Adam Lambert

Lambert may have lost out on the title to Kris Allen in Season 8, but he snagged the cover of Rolling Stone and continues to generate more buzz and album sales.

His censored performance at the American Music Awards last year was widely talked about. But the controversy only seemed to help Lambert sell more records.

His first album reached No. 3 on Billboard's 100 and racked up 2.6 million downloads, easily making Lambert a millionaire. His Glam Nation tour was hugely successful, with more than 100 shows in North America, Asia, Australia and Europe.

Clay Aiken

Aiken continues to surprise, ever since his second-place finish to Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard.

Since the release of his first single, Aiken has outsold and outshined Studdard, earning an estimated $2.2 million in 2009, according to Forbes.

His "Claymates" made him a hit in Broadway's "Spamalot." And when he announced he was gay and becoming a father, he made the cover of People.

Jennifer Hudson

Hudson didn't get past seventh place in Season 3, but in other ways she has eclipsed winner Barrino. After winning the Oscar for "Dreamgirls," Hudson starred in the films "Sex and the City" and "The Secret Life of Bees."

Her film "Winnie," in which she plays Winnie Mandela, the wife of South Africa's Nelson Mandela, is scheduled for release this year.

Her recording career hasn't done so bad either, although her first self-titled album came out in the midst of personal tragedy; a short time after it was released, her mother, sister and nephew were murdered in Chicago. The album sold a respectable 800,000 copies and earned her a Grammy.

Hudson has also scored lucrative endorsement deals with Gap, Avon and now Weight Watchers, after shrinking from size 16 to size 6.

Chris Daughtry

By far, Daughtry was the biggest success to come out of Season 5. He didn't make it past fourth place, but he has easily surpassed winner Hicks.

His debut album outsold Hicks' album: 5 million to 700,000, respectively. Together, his two albums have sold 6 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

He commands stadium-size concerts and has become a fixture on radio and television

ABC News Radio's Andrea Dresdale contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events