The Truth About Fantasia Barrino And Simon Cowell's Relationship

Fantasia Barrino first made headlines in 2004 after she won the third season of American Idol and beat runner-up Diana DeGarmo. Suddenly, Barrino had seemingly transformed from a high school dropout who struggled with literacy to an entertainment industry "it" girl. She clearly made quite the impression on the American Idol judges – Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and even the curmudgeonly Simon Cowell sang her praises.

Cowell even called Barrino his "favorite person" during an interview with Fox All Access in 2010. "She's talented, she comes back year after year exactly the same person she was when we first met her," he said.

But despite multiple Grammy nominations and a win in 2011, Barrino's road to fame and fortune has been marked by turmoil too. She titled her 2006 memoir, Life is Not a Fairytale, and unfortunately, the years following its release were trying on multiple fronts. Substance abuse, financial woes — Barrino nearly lost it all, including her life. During those dark days, rumor has it that Cowell came to her rescue. 

Let's get to the truth about Fantasia Barrino and Simon Cowell's relationship.

Did Simon Cowell help Fantasia Barrino pay her mortgage?

Fantasia Barrino made headlines in 2009, when financial woes put the future of her home in jeopardy. According to TMZ, she nearly lost the North Carolina estate because she owed $58,000 but was able to avoid foreclosure at the last minute. Rumor has it: Simon Cowell swooped in to pay her mortgage for her. 

"Simon didn't want to take any credit for it, he just wanted to help her out of a jam," an anonymous source told the National Enquirer (via Celebitchy). "He was hoping to keep his good deed a secret. He didn't want to cause Fantasia any further public embarrassment."

The American Idol star eventually addressed all the chatter about Cowell coming to the rescue. "I am still in my house, it wasn't a foreclosure and no, Simon Cowell did not help me pay any of my bills, though I thought that story was cute," she told CNN in 2010.

Alas, she probably could have used the help. Barrino purchased the six-bedroom house for $1.3 million in 2007 and eventually put the place on the market for $800,000 in 2012, reported TMZ. The following year, she reportedly handed over the deed to the bank, earning zero profits on the property but avoiding the foreclosure process. 

Simon Cowell thinks Fantasia Barrino is Idol's best

Despite being known for his harsh comments and salty demeanor as a judge on American Idol, Simon Cowell couldn't stop praising Fantasia Barrino's talent following her American Idol win. 

"You have a lot of terrible people trying out. And then when one person comes in with what I call the 'X' factor, they don't have to do a lot, but you just know you've seen somebody special," Cowell gushed (via ABC News). Before her debut album, Free Yourself, debuted in 2004, Cowell was predicting a bright future for Barrino. "She definitely has the potential to be a big recording artist," he said. "She's arguably the best contestant we've ever had on any 'Idol' around the world."

Cowell's assessment proved true. Barrino found success on the charts, the stage, and the screen; learned how to better manage her finances; fell in love with husband Kendall Taylor; and learned how to love herself. As she told the Chicago Tribune, "It's been a massive journey of so many great and bad things, but all necessary." 

Fantasia Barrino gave Simon Cowell a big compliment

Simon Cowell starred as a judge on American Idol from 2002 to 2012 and has since worked on other reality TV competition series like X Factor and America's Got Talent, to name a few projects. Cowell has stated he'd never return to Idol, a fact that would probably disappoint Fantasia Barrino, who sung his judging praises in 2013 during an interview with blogger Perez Hilton. "Simon was a big part of 'American Idol,'" she said about Cowell's legacy (via Ashley's Reality Roundup). "He was 'American Idol."

Barrino reiterated this sentiment in a 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight, stating about the show's reboot, "The only way that I feel that it can come back as strong as it was is if they bring back the original group [of judges]."

Yep, it's pretty clear Cowell's feelings of admiration toward Barrino is mutual.