“American Idol” alum Nikki McKibbin, who died over the weekend at age 42 after suffering a brain aneurysm, had previously opened up about her ongoing battle with addiction.
“I’ve battled substance abuse and I’m winning, but it’s still a struggle every day,” she told People in August 2019. “For a long time, I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t being the person I should be. I’m in a better place now.”
The singer — who finished third in the show’s first season in 2002 — said she immediately became famous, but that didn’t translate into a financial windfall.
“People automatically assumed that I was some millionaire because I was in the show, and nothing could be further from the truth,” she said. “A couple of years later, I was still struggling financially, but people expect that you’re living this glamorous life and I’m like, ‘I’m just trying to pay my electric bill!’”
McKibbin added that while she knew her career would not be what winner Kelly Clarkson’s was going to be, she was hoping she would get more exposure than she did.
In 2008, McKibbin appeared on “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” and the spinoff series “Sober House.”
“I did deal with addiction and that was hard,” she said. “I, unfortunately, made that a public thing with Dr. Drew. So then I had to explain to people that I was OK, that I was recovering, that I was fine.
Despite not achieving the level of fame she desired, McKibbin was happy with her life.
“I continue to perform and write music,” she continued. “I continue to sing, and I will always do that. Am I going to become a household name? No, but I can make money doing it and it brings me happiness. And that’s what’s important. I’m doing well. I’m a survivor and I’ve come this far. That’s a good thing.”
McKibbin is survived by her husband Craig and son Tristen, who tried out for “American Idol” in 2014.
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