In the early 2000s’ TV-goers were introduced to American Idol, a captivating singing competition that was unusual and a fresh concept at the time. Individuals nationwide were instantly sucked in after the very first episode and intrigued by the jaw-dropping and sometimes hysterical auditions.
Every week families and friends would make it a priority to gather around the television screen to hear Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul send an aspiring singer with hopes and dreams to Hollywood with a golden ticket in hand. TV-goers became obsessed with the original three judges, and Ryan Seacrest became the viewers’ voice watching from home. It was the way Seacrest would advocate for each musician, encourage fans to vote, and help deliver the heartwarming rags-to-riches stories that turned the hit series into a pop-culture phenomenon.
America witnessed Idol produce superstars from Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and many more moneymakers throughout the years. Several season winners broke into the music industry in full force and became world-renowned performers. Yet, some Idol contestants didn’t have to leave Hollywood with the grand title to score brand endorsements, a record deal, an award-winning album, or even the opportunity to pursue new areas in the entertainment world to make a living.
Music Mayhem carefully crafted a list (per Just Jared) of the wealthiest American Idol alums who managed to make a name for themselves following their departure from the show. Scroll top to bottom and see if your favorite hitmaker made the star-studded list.
10. David Cook (Season 7) and David Archuleta (Season 7) – TIE
Net worth: $5 Million
Does the name David Cook and David Archuleta ring a bell? The two battled it out on Season 7 and wowed fans nationwide – making the competition extra stiff when the voting was open to the public. Although David Cook walked away with the grand prize – the two have reached massive success in the industry. Following Cook’s time on the show, he broke a Billboard record in 2008 with 11 songs on the list. The last hitmaker with record-breaking numbers was Miley Cyrus, with six tracks in 2006. Cook’s debut record went platinum, and he became the face of Sketchers.
David Archuleta also received praise for his self-titled record, as it scored high placement on the Billboard 200 chart. The singer-songwriter released several fan-favorite LPs like – “Winter In The Air,” “Postcards in the Sky,” “No Matter How Far,” “Begin,” “The Other Side of Down,” holiday collection, “Christmas From The Heart,” and more. His contagious voice and savvy songwriting scored him countless prestigious accolades and nominations.
9. Elliott Yamin (Season 5)
Net worth: $6 Million
Elliott Yamin was not a season winner, but American Idol was his launching pad to stardom. In 2007, the breakout star dropped “Wait For You,” a single from his self-titled album. The singing competition show contestant sold over 90,439 copies of his record in just the first week and scored No.3 on Billboard’s Top 40 Albums chart. Following his time on the show, the brown-haired heartthrob embarked on the American Idol tour and performed live. In 2020, Yamin released a 10-track collection that showcases his growth as a vocalist and a holiday single called “This Christmas” in 2021, which features Lance Rodriguez.
8. Kellie Pickler (Season 5)
Net worth: $7 Million
Kellie Pickler kept the positive momentum up after her sudden exit from the show and broke into the country music space. In 2006, the songstress scored a deal with 19 Recordings and BNA Records and started working on original material. The following year, the go-getter dropped her debut collection, Small Town Girl. Hits from the project such as “Red High Heels,” “I Wonder,” and “Things That Never Cross a Man’s Mind” placed her name on radars nationwide. After Pickler’s rapid success, the hitmaker continued making magic in the studio and even penned “Best Days of Your Life” with Taylor Swift.
It was 2012 when the vocalist broke away from her previous label and signed with Black River Entertainment. The singer gained a loyal fan base and even received the opportunity to perform on Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars with Derek Hough. After winning the mirror ball on DWTS, the artist dabbled within the Hallmark Channel.
7. Jordan Sparks (Season 6)
Net worth: $8 Million
Jordan Sparks instantly made her mark on the series, as she became the youngest winner in American Idol history. After winning over America with her powerful vocals, she went on to make waves in the entertainment industry. Sparks became best known for her smash hits “No Air” with Chris Brown and “Battlefield.” Her collaboration with the multi-platinum artist scored her a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.”
The hitmaker’s pop-centric sound was honored at the Teen Choice Awards, American Music Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and more. While maintaining her music career and touring, the artist started working with cosmetics company Avon, created a fashion line with Wet Seal, established multiple fragrances called “Because of You…,” “Fascinate,” and “Ambition.”
6. Chris Daughtry (Season 5)
Net worth: $8 Million
After dominating the competition show, Daughtry continued to make waves in the music industry. His debut album graced the top of the Billboard charts and became one of the fastest-growing selling introduction records in history.
The pop-rock artist earned four Grammy Award nominations, received for AMA’s, and won six Billboard Music Awards. The hitmaker made a grand appearance in CSI: NY, became a voice-over character in Trollz and was The Rottweiler on The Masked Singer.
5. Katharine McPhee (Season 5)
Net worth: $14 Million
Katharine McPhee was the runner-up on the fifth season of American Idol and exploded into the scene with her self-titled introduction album. The dynamic collection that captures her captivating sound in a nutshell, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. McPhee released multiple collections throughout the years and made her way to the big screen as a successful Hollywood actress. The blonde A-lister has been seen starring in The House Bunny, Shark Night 3D, Smash, and Scorpion.
4. Adam Lambert (Season 8)
Net worth: $30 Million
When people think of American Idol, Adam Lambert instantly comes to mind. The 40-year-old superstar has dropped four studio albums since his exit from the show. While writing and producing original music, Lambert spent time touring the world with Queen. The award-winning musician recently revealed that he is set to be a judge on Starstruck, a new ITV show.
3. Jennifer Hudson (Season 3)
Net worth: $30 Million
Jennifer Hudson will go down in history for having one of the most influential voices in the music industry. Her wide-vocal range is not only goose bump provoking, but award-winning worthy. Hudson has won numerous accolades, from an Academy Award for her work in Dreamgirls, a Daytime Emmy Award, two Grammy Awards, and a Golden Globe Award. The singer-turned actresses played the iconic role of Aretha Franklin in Respect. Hudson’s net worth of $30 million is impressive, as she is known for donating most of her money to charity.
2. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)
Net worth: $35 Million
Kelly Clarkson has had a lucrative career since her massive win on American Idol. Following the show, the songstress signed with RCA Records and dropped her debut single “A Moment Like This,” which instantly graced the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart upon release. In 2003 the hitmaker launched her double-platinum debut album, Thankful. After reaching success with hits like “Miss Independent” and “The Trouble With Love Is,” the blonde powerhouse carefully created her most financially successful project called Breakaway in 2004.
While dominating the music scene, she became a judge on NBC’s The Voice, reappeared on American Idol, was featured in animated motion pictures The Stars and Trolls World Tour. The award-winning artist even received her own day-time program – The Kelly Clarkson Show.
In the mix of all of this, Clarkson signed a book deal with HarperCollins and launched her very first children’s book called River Rose and the Magical Lullaby. After the short book flew off the shelves, the singer released River Rose and the Magical Christmas in 2017.
1. Carrie Underwood (Season 4)
Net worth: $140 Million
Country music star Carrie Underwood scores first place with the most significant net worth of $140 million. Since winning American Idol in 2005, the vocalist has created a profitable career for herself by having her hands in multiple projects at once. Underwood’s debut record, which includes smashing hits “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” became the best-selling solo female debut LP in country music history.
The seven-time Grammy Award-winner has had multiple No.1 hits, and in 2008, the singer became the youngest artist to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. While producing chart-topping collections, Underwood worked with retail giants such as – Target, Nintendo, Sketchers, Hershey’s, and Olay.
Underwood even teamed up with OPI to launch several colors and partnered with Dick’s Sporting Goods to release her CALIA by Carrie Underwood athletic appeal line. While touring and even landing a VEGAS residency, the “Waiting All Day For Sunday Night” singer struck a deal with the NFL.