"I honestly feel like the time has come -- that I have to get back to do the other things I do and have put on hold because I do love 'Idol' so much," she told Ryan Seacrest during an interview on his radio show. Seacrest said, "It sounds to me like you've made up your mind," although Lopez -- who made a reported $20 million last season -- held out the possibility of returning as a mentor.
Judging on the show, she said, had become "one of those special things in your life that you don't want to walk away from," but citing additional work pressures and her young children, she said, "I wasn't playing games or wanting more money. It was being smart about making a business decision, and I have to be responsible in that moment." Her representative later confirmed she was stepping down.
Steven Tyler announced his departure Thursday. Both Tyler and Lopez began two seasons ago.
Lopez leaves as "Idol" gets ready to shake up both its show and judging panel -- again. At least by "Idol" terms, the most recent season -- the 11th -- was a bust, with viewership averaging 21 million, down 4 million from the previous season, and a drop of 30 percent overall from 2010.Both Fox and the show's production company, FremantleMedia, declined to comment on Lopez.