Count American Idol judge Simon Cowell among those "shocked" by Clay Aiken's announcement that he's gay.

"Wow, that's a shock," Cowell joked to Extra when the syndicated entertainment news program informed him of the former American Idol runner-up's decision to finally confirm what everyone but his most deluded Claymate fans had already figured out. "It's like being told Santa Clause isn't real -- unbelievable."

All joking aside, Cowell said he was happy for Aiken.

"Good for him. If he said it, it's the right thing for him," Cowell told Extra. "Good for him."

After spending the last several years declining to answer questions on the topic, Aiken -- who recently had a baby boy via artificial insemination with Jaymes Foster, a 50-year-old record producer and close friend he's known for five years -- confirmed his sexual orientation to People magazine during a cover story interview that will hit newsstands Friday.

"It was the first decision I made as a father," Aiken told People. "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things. I wasn't raised that way, and I'm not going to raise a child to do that."

Aiken's sexuality had been the subject of gossip and tabloid reports since the 29-year-old Raleigh, NC native finished second to Ruben Studdard on American Idol's second season in 2003.
After initially denying he was gay during early post-Idol interviews, Aiken began to decline to answer questions about his sexual orientation several years ago.

During a Good Morning America interview with Diane Sawyer in 2006, he said he was tired of questions about his sexuality.

"I don't understand why you want to know," Aiken told Sawyer after asked him if he was gay. "I don't understand why it's any of your business."

Earlier this year, Aiken had said he didn't really think people cared whether he was gay or straight.

"I think for the most part, I really think that people don't care, honestly,"  Aiken told during an April appearance on Access Hollywood host Billy Bush's The Billy Bush Show radio program.  "I think that the press -- people like that -- care more than anybody else does."

However in his People interview, Aiken acknowledged he expects the confirmation that he's gay will overwhelm some of his fans.

"Whether it be having a child out of wedlock, or whether it be simply being a homosexual, it's going to be a lot," Aiken told People.  "[I hope they] know that I've never intended to lie to anybody at all... But if they leave, I don't want them to leave hating me."
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Cowell -- apparently unaware of the extreme fanaticism with which some of Aiken's fans had railed against any previous media suggestion that he was gay -- doesn't think anyone will care about Aiken's disclosure.

"I don't think anyone cares," he told Extra. "Let's face it. It's 2008. You know, who cares?"