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Anna Nardona

Anna Nardona with Ed McMahon on Star Search

Star Search Losers Who Made It Big

By ABC News

Nov. 4, 2002 -- Britney Spears, Drew Carey, Rosie O'Donnell and 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake are all big stars now, but back in the 1980s, the judges on Star Search didn't think they had what it takes. All of them lost on the popular TV talent competition — though their appearances ended up helping them launch their careers.

The show, hosted by Ed McMahon, was also a stepping stone for future stars like LeAnn Rimes, Dennis Miller, Christina Aguilera, Sinbad, Alanis Morisette, Ray Romano and Martin Lawrence. Britney Spears vs. Marty Thomas

Back in 1992, 12-year-old Marty Thomas beat out his Star Search competitor — an 11-year-old named Britney Spears.

But Yannetty's willing to acknowledge the tables have turned. As he told Carey much later, "I beat you by half a star, and you beat me by half a billion dollars."

Justin Timberlake vs. Anna Nardona

"I loved the attention, the audiences, the applause," remembers Anna Nardona, who was just 10 years old when she beat her opponent, an 11-year-old singer named Justin Randall.

Nardona now works at a preschool day-care center in Connecticut, while her Star Search competitor has since changed his name to Justin Timberlake, and joined a group called 'N Sync.

Nardona was eventually knocked out of the competition by a cute 5-year-old, and she says that also knocked the wind out of her ambition to become a singing star.

"I was really embarrassed by it. And I lost it," she said. "I didn't lose my talent. I lost my interest. But I know deep down in my heart, I'm meant to sing."

ABC News logo

This story originally aired on 20/20 on Nov. 28, 2001.

Just a word from ABC Music Services:

Anna was clearly one of our best students and worked very hard, night after night preparing for her audition and just to set the record straight…

When the season for Star Search had come to an end and the show was looking for syndication from another network, who did they call to represent the show?

They called Anna Nardona, to perform.

Make no mistake about it. We are, to this day, very proud to have had Anna as a student!

Thank you for listening!

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