SAN DIEGO – Thousands of people hoping to be the next Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson or even Sanjaya lined up outside Qualcomm Stadium on Monday as auditions for the seventh season of "American Idol" began.
Some brought makeup kits and Starbucks cups filled with throat-clearing salt water and even karaoke machines. Others came before dawn, armed with sleeping bags and pillows.
"Why wouldn't I get here early? My No. 1 goal is to be on the program," said Lonnie Beatty, 20, who spent the night on a trolley platform just outside the stadium grounds in order to be one of the first in line.
Producers said they expected more than 10,000 people to show up for their chance at stardom.
Would-be contestants began lining up at 3 a.m. They had already spent hours in line over the weekend waiting to register for wristbands to get into the tryouts: neon yellow for singers, slate gray for supporters.
"I haven't slept in two days," said 16-year-old Jessica Schaffer of Temecula, explaining she drove around all night until she was allowed into the stadium grounds.
With the Comic-Con entertainment expo drawing a record crowd of more than 120,000 to San Diego over the weekend and thousands more in town for a sandcastle competition and an international youth soccer tournament, "Idol" hopefuls who wanted some shut-eye resorted to craigslist.com or even military bases for beds.
Sgt. Jessica Robson, a 26-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., said she snagged a bunk at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot but got up at 4 a.m. anyway.
"I don't think it matters where you are in line," she said from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.
Show executives said they hoped to winnow the contestants down to between 300 and 500 for the second round.
"We'll see everyone who wants to be heard," said Patrick Lynn, a senior producer. "It's all about trying to find out who's going to be the person who's going to make it past the judges, who's going to make it to Hollywood."
Six more auditions are set in the coming weeks in Dallas; Omaha, Neb.; Atlanta; Charleston, S.C.; Miami and Philadelphia. The show returns to the air in January.