American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken already knew he had lost to Ruben Studdard at least five minutes before the decision was announced, show judge Simon Cowell said yesterday.
Clay found out by peeking over show host Ryan Seacrest's shoulder, Cowell said on yesterday's Good Day Live.
Cowell did not say how he learned that Clay knew the verdict before it was announced, but presumably Clay told Simon about it after the show.
"Do you want some real insider gossip?" Cowell said on the talk show. "Guess what? Clay saw the card before the result was announced.
"Apparently, Clay saw the names about five minutes before he was due to go out [on stage]," Cowell said. [Show host] Ryan Seacrest is so thick -- there's two names to remember, he has to have them written down!"
Good Day Live then showed the moment when Seacrest announced the winner -with co-hosts speculating that Aiken was staring at Studdard because he apparently already knew Ruben had won.
Aiken swore to Extra yesterday that he didn't get a peek at the winner, saying he was "completely in the dark."
"They keep things so under wraps backstage, there is now way" he saw anything, he told Extra.
Meanwhile, Wednesday's finale notched a whopping 34.2 million viewers from 8 to 10 p.m.
Studdard's narrow victory over Aiken helped Fox coast to an easy Wednesday-night victory -- culminating in 38.1 million viewers who watched the show's final hour (9-10 p.m.), which included the announcement of Studdard's victory at around 9:50 p.m.
And 52.2 million viewers watched all or part of the show from 9 to 10 p.m., according to Fox.
The finale's last hour also tied with Joe Millionaire to earn Fox's highest-ever rating (16.8) in terms of viewers 18-49 years old -- the demo most coveted by advertisers.
The third edition of American Idol is expected to return in January.