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American Idol was the most popular show on television. In fact, American Idol is the #1 and #2 highest rated show upon it’s finally on May 21st.

There are many reasons why Americans love American Idol, but much of the appeal is that AI is a distinctly American show. The show is a contest, and in an ideal world, democracy is the ultimate contest.

In Idol America anything is possible, and single mothers, disheveled hippies, and the most invisible and marginalized citizens (under 28 year olds) have as much access to fame and fortune as anyone, if only for one audition. There is no telling who will go through and who won’t, and in this rare societal vacuum, money, beauty and connections don’t matter.

If every job in this country were based on merit, everything from our educational system to our political system would reflect the ideals of a meritocracy, with the best people in the highest positions, but unfortunately who you know is often more important than what you know.

Nevertheless, following are nine other jobs (besides American Idol contestant) based exclusively on hard work and natural ability:

Anyone can start a blog. Some would say this is the problem with blogging, but the online medium has provided opportunities for a range of voices that mainstream media can’t or won’t accommodate. And, as Perez Hilton can attest, if your voice is snarky enough, you’ll probably develop a following.

Uniforms connote uniformity, and sure enough: a fire doesn’t care who you know. In any command hierarchy politics matters, but in the heat of the moment (so to speak) there’s no telling who will get injured and who will make it out unscathed.

Certain inventions, like the zipper and the umbrella, are so simple and useful as to be irreplaceable. Coming up with one invention like that will trump everything else on your resume. (Thomas Edison only had three months of official schooling). Just be sure to get your device patented.

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Conceptual Artist
Keith Haring drew with chalk in subways, Basquiat was a graffiti artist, and Rauschenberg made art out of garbage—and none of them were as impoverished (or famous) as Van Gogh. Of course, in order for your career to thrive, you might have to die first.

Cryptanalyst (Code Breaker)
You can’t fake an algorithm. This is probably a good thing considering the role cryptography plays in national security. If you’re not good at math, you simply won’t be able to crack codes, no matter how well connected you are.

Marathon Runner
In 2008, a Kenyan won the Los Angeles Marathon for the tenth straight year. For Kenyans especially, long distance running is a ticket out of poverty. This profession involves no education or language skills, and no team or equipment; success depends only on natural talent and intense training.

The best pilots are predisposed to staying calm under pressure and reacting quickly to ambiguous situations. They also often have naturally superior vision and spatial orientation abilities, and must prove themselves repeatedly with the strict tests that are required for flying.

Wilderness Explorer
Perhaps the most solitary job there is. Upside: No bosses to report to and no face time to put in at the office. Downside: No one to appeal to for a raise and no happy hours. Success is determined exclusively by personal initiative.

Guinness Book of World Records Record Holder
There’s no conning your way into being the person who held the most bees in his mouth (109, the USA’s Norman Gary, 1998), or ate the most Jell-O with chopsticks in one minute (1.58 oz, the USA’s Noelle Ike, 2005). If you can break a record, you can be just as famous as they are.

Good luck and, remember, you deserve it!

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