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Top 10 Richest American Idols

Top 10 Richest American Idols

The idea associated with the phrase “reality TV” back in 2002 was what shows like MTV’s “The Real World” and ‘Survivor” provided to average viewers. Then the world witnessed the birth of American Idol – it changed the very face of American TV by gaining top ratings within a decade and inviting a new streak of competitive reality TV programs with wider target audience than the average viewers.

At the time of its inception, not many people knew personalities like Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson or Ryan Seacrest even existed. The show also brought a hot pop star like Paula Abdul into the spotlight. Thanks to the show’s incomparable success, all these became familiar faces to the public. Singers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood also got to shine a light on their luck and ride the high horse of fame due to the platform they were offered by American Idol to perform live. It gave chances to people from off places to try their luck similarly and even though not all of them made it to the finish line, the world still knows of them due to American Idol.

We all know that no matter the magnificent start of something, it comes to an end. Similarly is the fate of American Idol. Starting in 2002 and airing its season finale in 2016 after running for full 15 seasons, it has come to its conclusion. Here’s looking at 10 personalities who became famous and cashed in the most from from American Idol.


David Cook

David Cook quickly won the hearts of American Idol audiences in 2008, when he took first place. He then went on to release an eponymous album that debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, certified platinum. It included the hit singles “Light On” and “The Time of My Life.”

David Roland Cook rose to reputation after winning the seventh season of American Idol. Before that, he released an album entitled Analog Heart, and his post-Idol self-titled album, produced by Grammy-winning producer Rob Cavallo, was released on November 18, 2008 and has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA. His second major-label album This Loud Morning was released on June 28, 2011.

Cook’s love for music developed at an early stage in his life. He started singing in second grade, when his elementary school music teacher gave him a solo to perform in a school choir. He’s also been an active member in the Blue Springs South High School National Forensics League – or NFL – where he competed for the national tournament twice for duo interpretation, an event based on performance and interpretation of literary works.

Cook was also a keen baseball player in high school. His focus from baseball shifted to music when he received an injury and couldn’t play anymore. While in college, he was a member of Phi Sigma Kapp. To pursue a career in music, he relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, after his college graduation; telling his family, “I just want to give myself until I’m 26 years old to get a job.”

According to certified stats, “Cook won the seventh season of American Idol on May 21, 2008, receiving 56% of the votes, with 12 million votes over David Archuleta as the runner-up. Cook then sang “The Time of My Life”, the winning song of the 2008 American Idol Songwriter’s Competition. In the final tally, Archuleta received 44 percent of the votes.”

During the show’s finale, same commercials featuring Cook and fellow finalist Archuleta impersonated the Tom Cruise scene from Risky Business as he dances in his underwear playing an air guitar; it was done to promote the game franchise Guitar Hero.

An endorsement deal with Skechers was signed by Cook that ran through December 2009. Cook has won the Best Reality/Variety Star award, alongside Lauren Conrad of The Hills, at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards Cook’s photo is also highlighted on The World Almanac’s cover and Book of Facts 2009, alongside President Barack Obama’s and Senator John McCain’s.

“I think the future is whatever I’m willing to make it.” -Cooke

Source of wealth


Elliott Yamin

Most famous for his 2007 hit single, “Wait for You,” Yamin took third place behind Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee during American Idol’s fifth season. His self-titled debut album was released in 2007 and reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200, certifying as a gold record in the U.S. The album was qualified gold in the United States in October 2007.

Yamin’s sophomore album, titled Fight for Love, was released on May 5, 2009, with its first single, “Fight for Love”, premiering on AOL Music on February 13, 2009. Yamin has also released two Christmas collections: My Kind of Holiday in October 2008 and Sounds of the Season: The Elliott Yamin Holiday Collection in October 2007.

Yamin’s vocal talent first saw the light of day as he sang karaoke in his late teens. Although not musically trained, he sang in a local jazz band and in amateur performance forums matching Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Donny Hathaway. A drop out from his high school’s sophomore year, he later achieved a high school GED when working at Foot Locker, a pharmacy and also as an on-air disc jockey for local R&B radio station WCDX/Power 92 FM, using the name E-Dub — before he finally auditioned American Idol.

Yamin has also appeared on some talk shows, including the Tonight Show, Live with Regis and Kelly and the Fox News Channel program, Dayside. He performed the national anthem on June 11, 2006, a cappella at Game 2 of the NBA finals. He also performed in the annual Pop Tart-sponsored national American Idols LIVE! Tour between July and September 2006.

Yamin performed at the Virginia State Fair at its closing act. He was the first contestant from Idol’s fifth season to have his own solo concert, with the band Little Memphis Blues Orchestra backing him up. He sang nine cover songs… There was no new material presented in the concert.

“I come from a family with big hearts, so I love to put smiles on people’s faces.” – Yamin

Source of wealth


Katharine Mcphee

McPhee successfully gained herself second place on American Idol, alongside being a spokesmodel, actress and a recording artist. She got a co-starring role in the movie “The House Bunny” in 2008, and further television success in 2012 by starring in the NBC TV series “Smash.”  Since 2014, McPhee has had a lead role on the CBS series “Scorpion.”

The “Over It” singer has released 4 solo albums and also signed a 2-year endorsement deal with Neutrogena in 2008. Singing since the age of two, McPhee became an American Idol contestant during its fifth season. In high school, she used to perform in school musicals and plays.

Being a major in musical theater, she left college on her manager’s advice to return to Los Angeles and try out for television pilots. In a People news article, it was reported that she was rejected for “195 out of 200 auditions”. She was ranked #47 on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 of 2007 list.

Persuaded by Nick Cokas and her parents, McPhee went and tried out for American Idol. She auditioned in San Francisco, singing “God Bless the Child”, originally performed by Billie Holiday.

McPhee’s run on American Idol led to the famous use of the term “McPheever”, invented by Ralph Garman of Los Angeles radio station KROQ’s morning show Kevin and Bean.

“Everyone has that inner voice, the one that’s a Negative Nancy. I’d say to ignore that voice and to be confident and follow your heart.” – McPhee

Source of wealth


Clay Aiken

Hailing from North Carolina, Clay Aiken left behind 7,000 other American Idol contestants to come in second place on the show in 2003. After weeks, he was offered a record contract with RCA. 2003 saw him releasing his debut album, Measure of Man, which album sold 613,000 copies in its first week, earning Aiken an American Music Award. In 2006, People magazine’s readers chose him as their favorite on American Idol. In 2014, he turned the direction of his career after announcing his decision to run for Congress. However, he lost that bid for elected office to Republican Renee Ellmers.

Aiken came in second behind Ruben Studdard on second season of American Idol then jumping from one field to another, including politics, acting, writing and music.

His first studio album, “Measure of a Man,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in October 2003. The second album, “Merry Christmas With Love” (2004), set a record of being the fastest-selling holiday album since 1991. Aiken being as multi-talented as he is, acted on Broadway, wrote a best-selling book and even lost a Congress bid in his native North Carolina.

In 2004, Aiken wrote a New York Times bestselling memoir titled “Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life.” This book detailed his childhood and musical influences, but more importantly, it paid special attention to spiritual development. The book stayed on the bestseller list for 7 weeks.

While working on a new album in 2008, Aiken also took on the role of Sir Robin in the Broadway musical Monty Python’s Spamalot side by side to his musical career. His next album, On My Way Here, was released late in that year, making him the eighth artist in the world of music to have their first four albums debut in the Billboard Top 5.

Aiken returned to television as a contestant in fifth season of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2012. He was up against other media figures, such as Victoria Gotti, Aubrey O’Day, Debbie Gibson and Lou Ferrigno.

“You know, I think I’m a stronger person for realizing that you can’t make everybody love you.” – Aiken

Source of wealth


Chris Daughtry

Christopher Adam Daughtry, with the release of 4 albums to date, is a Grammy nominated American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, currently the lead singer of the band Daughtry. He was the fourth-place finalist on the highly publicized fifth season of American Idol. After his elimination from Idol, he was granted a record deal by RCA Records plus a 19 Entertainment. Daughtry’s self-titled debut album sold more than 1 million copies after just 5 weeks of release – the fastest selling debut rock album in history of music. In its ninth release week, the album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Daughtry is the third most successful American Idol contestant in the history of the show, in terms of record sales, coming right after Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood.

When he was 16, Daughtry took his singing seriously as a professional musician, performing with rock bands in high school. His major musical influences include bands like Fuel, Bon Jovi, Journey, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Live and Bush. He appeared in two stage productions in high school: Peter Pan and The Wiz. At the time he auditioned for American Idol, Daughtry was working as a Service Advisor at Crown Honda, a car dealership in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Daughtry sang lead vocals, playing rhythm guitar for rock bands in Burlington too. In fact, the band Absent Element consisted of Daughtry on lead vocals and guitar. In 2005, Daughtry gave auditions for the CBS singing contest, Rock Star: INXS, though he didn’t make it for the show’s actual filming.

Daughtry auditioned for American Idol in Denver, Colorado by singing The Boxtops’ “The Letter.” After obtaining the Golden Ticket to Hollywood, he performed “The First Cut Is the Deepest”, and sang “Emotion” during his trio performance with Ace Young and Bobby Bullard.

On May 24, 2006, during the fifth season finale at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, Daughtry performed the song “Mystery” with band Live, after which “Mystery” suddenly peaked #80 on the iTunes top 100 songs. Live’s version of the song was later put up for download on the band’s profile with Daughtry backing up the vocals.

In December 2007, interviewing with Gibson Lifestyle, Daughtry said, “I used to call [my wife] and just quickly throw in the towel. But I’ve found that the less I say and the more I actually listen to her, and just be there without actually being there, is the best thing I can do. As a man, I always feel like I need to say something. Sometimes I have to stop myself because all I want to do is call and tell her about how much awesome stuff is going on in my life, and, you know, her day is sucking hard. I could write a book on it, I’m serious.”

“If people say something rude or off-color, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because they don’t know you.” – Daughtry

Source of wealth


Jordin Sparks

Singer-songwriter Jordin Sparks is the youngest American Idol winner at just the age of 17. The “Tattoo” artist was nominated for a Grammy for the first time in 2009. She made her Broadway debut the following year, in the musical “In the Heights.” Sparks went on to make her film-acting debut in 2012 alongside Whitney Houston in the movie “Sparkle.” She has let her creative juices flow to other business spheres, such as releasing 3 perfumes.

Jordin Brianna Sparks, born December 22, 1989 is an American plus-size model, fashion designer, actress, songwriter and pop/R&B singer. She rose to stardom in the form of a winner of the sixth season of American Idol, which then led to her receiving an American Music Award and Grammy nominations in 2008. She is one among the few American Idol winners to succeed on Billboard Hot 100, alongside Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

On her biography in American Idol, she thanked her parents and God for her success. She has appeared on World’s cover – an Evangelical Christian news magazine and has won an award for best young artist of the year in Arizona for three years.

Before showing up on American Idol, Sparks participated in and won some talent competitions like the 2007 Drug Free AZ Superstar Search, Sprite Rising Star, Gospel Music Association GMA Academy, Colgate Country Showdown, NBC/PAX America’s Most Talented Kids and The Proof Is In The Pudding Contest.

In May 23, 2007, Sparks won the sixth season of American Idol. Sparks was the fourth winner ever to have been voted in the bottom three, coming after after Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks; with Cowell saying this: “Jordin was the most improved over the whole season — didn’t start the best, but midway through this was the girl who suddenly got momentum,” he included that “Young girl, likeable, and the singer won over the entertainer.”

In 2012, Sparks was ranked at number 92 on VH1’s list of the “100 Greatest Women in Music.” She sold 1.3 million albums and 10.2 million singles in the United States alone, being among the most successful American Idol contestants of all time. People magazine named her as one of 2012’s “Most Beautiful at Every Age,” Sparks was named the “VH1 Save The Music Foundation Ambassador” in 2011.

“I like the way my heart beats, I like the way I think; I don’t need or want anything to change that.” – Sparks

Source of wealth


Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert is an American singer well known for his finalist position in the eighth season of American Idol in 2009. His rhythmical vocal array laced with his glam-rock style made him standout. Lambert came in second place on the show. Adam Lambert spent time in theater, in productions such as “Wicked” and “Ten Commandments: The Musical” alongside Val Kilmer, before he tested his luck on American Idol.

His debut album, “For Your Entertainment,” entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 3. He has earned a Grammy nomination for the single “Whataya Want From Me.” Having been on tour with the band Queen, he has also acted on 5 episodes of the TV series “Glee.”

“I have crushes on women all the time. I don’t have intimate relationships with them, but I find women beautiful.”

—Adam Lambert

Born on January 29, 1982, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lambert’s stage experiences from his childhood placed him well enough to compete in the eighth season of American Idol in 2009. His theatrical aptitude made his performances memorable as he finished second. His first post-Idol album, For Your Entertainment, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Lambert was thrilled by the stage since a young age so he attended private voice lessons, later appearing in more musicals at local theatres, including that of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease and Chess. During this time, his voice coach, Lynne Broyles, along with Alex Urban, artistic director of the Children’s Theatre Network, were influential mentors for Lambert.

Lambert attended San Diego’s Mt. Carmel High School, where he took part in things like choir, theatre and jazz band. He moved to Orange County to attend college after high school. The desire to perform was too vigorous in him, which is why shortly after enrolling, he dropped out after only five weeks.

He also did regular performances in The Zodiac Show, co-created by Carmit Bachar of the band Pussycat Dolls and a touring show of live music and talent that was. During his time with Zodiac, Lambert fascinated fellow performers with his vocal talent. He then began writing his own music with the revue; one particular song, “Crawl Through Fire,” was written in association with Madonna’s guitarist, Monte Pittman. In 2005, Lambert landed a substitute spot as Fiyero in the play Wicked, first with the touring cast and then with the Los Angeles’ production cast.

2009 saw Lambert stepping into the national spotlight by becoming a finalist on the eighth season of American Idol. His performance of Gary Jules’s 2001 arrangement of “Mad World” earned him great acclaim from the show’s toughest critic, Simon Cowell. Lambert’s vocal array, along with his jet-black hair and heavy mascara, earned him evaluations with the likes of glam rockers like Freddie Mercury and Gene Simmons.

Lambert’s debut album, For Your Entertainment (2009), won him huge success, debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2010, he was nominated for his first Grammy Award, for his hit “Whataya Want From Me.”

Lambert released his second studio album, Trespassing, in May 2012, which met with wide praise, landing at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200. More than 100,000 copies of the album were sold by June 2012. In a Billboard review of the album, Lambert was depicted as “the raw energy that would make him a great front man for a band like, say, Queen.”

In fact, Lambert has also sung with Queen in Wroclaw, Poland, and gave several London performances with the band throughout July of 2012.

“The biggest risk I’ve ever taken is going on American Idol and trying to be myself. I wasn’t going to try too hard to conform, and I knew that it could possibly not work out.” – Lambert

Source of wealth


Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson is an American actress and singer. In 2004, she won a successful spot on American Idol, gaining a wide and loyal fan base. Even though she didn’t hit the Top 5 on American Idol yet she did went on to win some other acclaimed honors, including an Oscar.

In 2008, she also won a Grammy for her debut album. That same year, her mother, brother and nephew were killed by her estranged brother-in-law as Hudson went away from under the spotlight to grieve. She then starred in additional screen projects, including the TV musical Smash and The Secret Life of Bees. She has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.

Jennifer grew up singing in church choirs. In 1999, she graduated from Dunbar Vocational Career Academy. After singing on a Disney cruise ship for a year, Hudson auditioned for American Idol’s third season in 2004. And becoming a finalist, she gained success and a fan base but then suddenly disappeared from the limelight after being eliminated from the show. Some controversy arose over this as she was renowned by crowds as an outstanding vocalist who could out-sing other contestants fairly easily.

However, luck had not given up on her just yet, to leave her so stranded because the following year, she beat out hundreds of competitors and won the role of Effie White in the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls.

“My family always says my voice is a gift—a precious jewel I inherited from my maternal grandma, Julia Kate Hudson. My sister and I used to joke that the ‘Kates’ in our family got all the talent.” – Jennifer Hudson.

Her mind-blowing performance, especially her unforgettable, ecstatic interpretation of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” earned this young singer a Golden Globe and an Oscar as supporting actress.

On May 30th, 2008, Jennifer persisted with her film work by making an appearance in the hit movie Sex in the City, in which she played Louise, the shrewd assistant to Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker). In October 2008, she starred in The Secret Life of Bees alongside stars like Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo.

Hudson also released her self-titled debut album in September of 2008, which on her a Grammy for Best R&B Album.

She then made her first public appearance in 2009 after her loss of family members by singing the national anthem during Super Bowl XLIII. She released her sophomore album in spring 2011, “I Remember Me”, featuring production from the likes of Alicia Keys, R. Kelly and Diane Warren. In the honor of her nephew, she has even established the Julian D. King Toy Drive and Christmas Dinner and the Hatch Day charity.

Hudson became a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and in 2012, she published the book I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down. She went on to do greater things by beginning her own clothing line, contributing to the soundtrack of Think Like a Man while also continuing to star in film projects side by side. She represented Winnie Mandela in a 2011 biopic named after the famous South African activist, featured in 2012’s The Three Stooges. In 2013, Hudson appeared as a repeated guest star on the big-screen musical Black Nativity and television musical series Smash.

Hudson continued to make new music and released her latest album, JHUD, in 2014, a more sparkling affair featuring production from stars like Pharrell Williams and Timbaland. She took up her acting career again when she returned to television the following year, appearing on hit musical drama Empire; co-created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Apart from playing a music therapist in it, Hudson also performed on its soundtrack.

In 2015 she starred once again in a famed musical, as Shug Avery in the Broadway renewal of The Color Purple at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, co-starring Danielle Brooks and Cynthia Erivo.

“I’m getting used to my new self more than anything else. I got used to being plus-sized and knowing how to be that, whereas this is like, ‘Okay, who am I?’ I keep thinking that I probably need an extra-large or a large and the stylist is like, ‘No, you need a medium or a small.’”

“You’re not living if you don’t go out and try things for yourself.” -Hudson

Source of wealth


Kelly Clarkson

Officially the American Idol, Kelly Clarkson gained stardom from “Breakaway” and from there, she has been achieving a steady flow of success.

The singer of “Since You’ve Been Gone” has landed above two dozen singles in the Billboard Top Hot 100, with selling more than 12.4 million albums in the U.S. and over 20 million worldwide. Her single “My Life Would Suck Without You” achieved such great success that within a week, it jumped from 97 to 1 in chart history, setting a record for the biggest jump to the No. 1 position. She went on to release several amazing top 10 hits such as “Breakaway,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Because of You.”

In 2002, Clarkson won the first season of American Idol, hence winning the million-dollar prize of an RCA record contract. Her first single titled “A Moment Like This,” reached from No. 52 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Her second album “Breakaway” won two Grammies. Clarkson’s singing career outshined from there onwards, with numerous hit singles, like “Because of You” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.”

Born on April 24, 1982, in Fort Worth, Texas, Clarkson graduated from Burleson High School in 2000, where she used to sing in simple school choirs. After she graduated, she moved to Los Angeles to officially pursue her music career.

She made several appearances on television as well, from what she earned for herself via many odd jobs she took and eventually, as a landing job working as a female vocalist with songwriter Gerry Goffin. Unfortunately, bad luck in that area made her change this course of action and so, she returned to Texas shortly afterwards. In 2002, a friend told her about a new talent search show on Fox called American Idol, and Clarkson hit it off and ending up becoming one of those 10,000 contestants.

The month after that, her first single, “A Moment Like This,” jumped from No. 52 to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. In 2003, she invested her efforts in television industry and made her feature film debut in the forgettable “From Justin to Kelly”. Chance and destiny had it that her musical talents should flourish more than acting talents and therefore, her first album did better than her movie.

Clarkson is set to release her first children’s book in collaboration with HarperCollins, “River Rose” and the “Magical Lullaby”, in October 2016.

“God will never give you anything you can’t handle, so don’t stress.” – Clarkson

Source of wealth


Carrie Underwood

Singer, activist and actress, Carrie Underwood remains to be the most successful American Idol alum by quite a big margin. The Oklahoma country superstar of “Before He Cheats” was included into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, being its youngest member of age 26. Her success as a singer earned her 7 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards and 9 American Music Awards. She’s released 5 studio albums, plus a “Greatest Hits” compilation.

Underwood pursued journalism after she put her singing dreams aside. Then the great change happened; she auditioned for American Idol in her senior year at Northeastern State University. Success didn’t come to her right at the start but she won the show’s 4th season, in 2005. Proceeding that, she won multiple Grammies, Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards. Some of her hit albums include Carnival Ride, Play On and Blown Away.

Born and raised on a farm, Underwood has now become among the most famous female performers in country music. “I had a very happy childhood full of the wonderful simple things that children love to do,” she wrote on her website. “Growing up in the country, I enjoyed things like playing on dirt roads, climbing trees, catching little woodland creatures and, of course, singing.”

Underwood’s album, Some Hearts (2005), was certified as triple platinum, hence making it the fastest-selling female country album after Nielsen SoundScan in 1991. “Inside Your Heaven,” her first single, hit top of the Billboard pop charts.

With “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” Underwood made it to the top of country charts. Due to its critical success, it won her the Academy of Country Music Award for single of the year, the Country Music Association Award for single of the year and two Grammy Awards, for best female country vocal performance and best new artist, in 2006.

Contrary to her general soft-sounding music, Underwood took a different path too and came up with her album “Before He Cheats,” which is about a straying ex-boyfriend. Its single won her a Grammy for best female country vocal performance plus a CMA Award for single of the year in 2007. During that same year, Underwood released her follow-up album, “Carnival Ride” (2007). It peaked at the top of the album charts, scoring several No. 1 country hits, including its singles “Last Name” and “All-American Girl.”

In September 2008, she won the CMA Award for female vocalist of the year—for the third consecutive time—for her album Carnival Ride. Underwood also presented the CMA Awards with fellow country star, Brad Paisley.

It was announced in May 2013 that Underwood would perform the Sunday Night Football theme song. She carried on her work on television as Maria in the retelling of the classic musical called The Sound of Music (1965). She got the chance to star opposite True Blood’s Stephen Moyer. The television special gained 4 Emmy nominations.

To celebrate such a flourishing career, in the fall of 2014 Underwood released Greatest Hits: Decade #1. It also contained some new material, like the hit “Something in the Water,” that later won a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance. Underwood dropped her fifth studio album, Storyteller, in autumn 2015 and it featured one of the Top 5 country single “Smoke Break.” Underwood kicked hit off its tour in February 2016, which is destined to keep on the road until late May. Time listed her among the 100 most influential people in the world.

“Successful people have a social responsibility to make the world a better place and not just take from it.” – Underwood

Source of wealth

The real financial winners of American Idol

While the contestants have done well, the creator, host and judges have done far better.  Get a load of these figures: