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American Idol: Top 10 past contestants, ranked by net worth

Daughtry and Carrie Underwood on American Idol
Daughtry and Carrie Underwood on American Idol. Pic credit: Fox

American Idol does not guarantee success for all its singers.

Even winners can often fall short of expectations.

Just Sam, who won in 2020, let fans know that she is now broke and is unable to make any music right now because all her money is going to pay her bills.

However, there are some singers from the hit reality singing competition that not only hit it big, but became some of the wealthiest celebrities in the music industry.

From the first season, with Kelly Clarkson, the doors were open to big opportunities, and she isn’t even the richest singer to come from the show.

Here is a look at the biggest American Idol alumni, based on their net worth.

10. David Cook net worth: $5 million

David Cook won American Idol in Season 7, finishing in one of the most hotly contested finales in the show’s history.

Cook, a rock singer, went head-to-head with David Archuleta, a teenage contemporary singer, and walked away with the win.

He was a hit from the start, his debut single selling over 1.4 million copies and going platinum. His self-titled debut album also went platinum and had two Top 20 singles.

He ended up leaving RCA and he became an independent artist. It seems he has done well with his career, as his net worth is an impressive $5 million.

9. David Archuleta net worth: $5 million

David Archuleta was the runner up in Season 7, but he still had some big success after leaving American Idol.

When he lost to David Cook, it was the biggest vote total in history at that time, with Cook winning with 56% of the votes, but Archuleta still receiving an estimated 47 million votes.

He translated this into a debut album that sold over 900,000 copies. He went on to keep releasing music, but things were not going well for him.

In a recent interview, Archuleta said that he mostly remained hidden at home when not performing because he was scared to go out in public, and he also said that the pressures on him, as a teen, were traumatic.

David Archuleta is worth an estimated $5 million.

8. Elliott Yamin net worth: $6 million

One surprising name to see on the list is Season 5’s Elliott Yamin. The singer finished in third place that season, which saw Taylor Hicks beating Katharine McPhee in the finals.

However, Yamin’s net worth places him above Hicks, although he is below McPhee for other reasons. His debut album was certified gold, and his third and fourth were released in Japan, the fourth exclusively there.

His net worth is an estimated $6 million.

7. Kellie Pickler net worth: $7 million

Kellie Pickler is the only pure country singer to reach the Top 10 richest American Idol alums based on net worth.

What is most interesting about Pickler is that she finished in sixth place in Season 5 and still went on to become a major hit singer.

Her debut album sold over 900,000 copies, certified platinum, and she had further success with her follow-up albums.

Her $7 million net worth is not only because of her music, but also money she made from a daytime talk show she co-hosted from 2017 to 2019.

6. Jordan Sparks net worth: $8 million

Jordan Sparks was the youngest person to ever win American Idol, taking home the win at the age of 17.

She then was an instant sensation, with her self-titled album going platinum with over two million copies sold. She also released the third best-selling single by any American Idol artist with Chris Brown, a track titled No Air.

Sparks then branched out with roles on television and on Broadway. She was in the musical In The Heights on Broadway and starred in the movie Sparkle.

Her net worth is a nice $8 million.

5. Chris Daughtry net worth: $8 million

Chris Daughtry was another part of the very successful fifth season of American Idol, which included four people in the top 10 when it comes to net worth.

With Daughtry, he finished fourth and then went and created his own band, which is the most successful rock and roll act to come out of American Idol.

When it comes to total record sales, only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have sold more albums in their career.

He has also worked with several big-name artists on other projects, including Slash, Carlos Santana, Sevendust, Chad Kroeger, and Theory of a Deadman.

Daughtry is worth an estimated $8 million.

4. Katharine McPhee net worth: $14 million

Katherine McPhee came into the fifth season of American Idol and outlasted some major talent before losing in the finals to Taylor Hicks.

However, McPhee has done well, with her first single certified gold. She kept releasing music and then went on to a small acting career.

McPhee appeared in The House Bunny and Shark Night 3D and the TV show Scorpion.

In 2019, McPhee married respected long-time record producer David Foster, who is worth $150 million. For herself, McPhee is worth $14 million.

3. Jennifer Hudson net worth: $30 million

It is a big jump to the third wealthiest American Idol alumni, as Jennifer Hudson is worth more alone than the first four people on this list added together.

While her album sales don’t touch those of the top singers on this list, Hudson did something bigger with her career. She went on to appear in movies and on Broadway, winning awards along the way.

Hudson has won an Oscar (Dreamgirls), two Grammy Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, and a SAG Award.

Her movies include Dreamgirls, The Secret Life of Bees, Sing, and Respect. She was also on Broadway in the musical The Color Purple.

Jennifer Hudson’s net worth is an impressive $30 million.

2. Kelly Clarkson net worth: $45 million

Kelly Clarkson was the first person to ever win American Idol. She has gone on to become one of the most successful after leaving the show as well.

There were big plans for the American Idol winners in the beginning, and Kelly even got an American Idol movie out of it.

However, she made it on her own. She has sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide, with 11 top 10 singles.

She is also a major television star. She works as a coach on The Voice and she has her own daytime talk show.

All in all, Kelly Clarkson is worth an estimated $45 million.

1. Carrie Underwood net worth: $140 million

The highest net worth of any American Idol alumni is Carrie Underwood, and it isn’t even close.

Underwood has sold 70 million albums worldwide and her debut album Some Hearts was the best-selling solo album by a woman in country music history.

She is also the sixth highest-certified female musical artist of all time and the highest-certified female country music artist.

Underwood has won seven Grammys.

She also makes money in the fashion industry and through books. All together, Carrie Underwood’s net worth is $140 million.

American Idol Season 20 premieres on Sunday, February 27, 2022, at 8/7c on ABC.

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