Some of American Idol‘s biggest stars, such as Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson, got their start on the reality show. Many former contestants see musical success while others work in other areas of the entertainment industry. The TV show has even changed the lives of those rejected in auditions, like Glee stars Naya Rivera and Amber Riley.
Here are the 15 richest stars who ever appeared on American Idol according to Celebrity Net Worth (in no particular order). One unlikely alumni actually made millions and has the largest net worth (page 9).
1. Katharine McPhee
- Net Worth: $8 million
Katharine McPhee appeared in season five of American Idol. She finished in second place. As of this writing, she has released a total of five studio albums. McPhee has also done some acting. She appeared in the films House Bunny and Shark Night 3D. As far as the small screen, McPhee has appeared in the television shows Ugly Betty, CSI:NY, and Scorpion.
Next: This contestant became one of the show’s most successful alums.
2. Adam Lambert
- Net Worth: $16 million
Adam Lambert was the runner up in season eight of America Idol. Although he didn’t win, he managed to become one of the show’s most successful alums. His first studio album, “For Your Entertainment,” was released in November 2009. The album debuted at the No. 3 spot on the Billboard charts. In addition, Lambert received a Grammy nomination in 2010.
Next: This contestant wrote a New York Times best seller.
3. Clay Aiken
- Net worth: $7 million
Clay Aiken appeared on season two of American Idol. He finished in second place. As of this writing, Aiken released a total of six studio albums. His albums Measure of a Man and Merry Christmas with Love were certified platinum. His album A Thousand Different Ways was certified gold. Aiken is also a published author. In 2004 his book Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life, debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
Next: This former contestant has had great success.
4. Jordin Sparks
- Net worth: $10 million
Jordin Sparks won season six of American Idol. Her self-titled debut album was released later that year, in November 2007. As of this writing, she has released three studio albums. The singles “Tattoo” and “No Air” became Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles. In addition, her album resulted in several nominations and awards, including an American Music Award in 2008. Sparks went on to win her first Grammy nomination in 2009.
Next: A dancing machine.
5. Kellie Pickler
Net worth: $5 million
Kellie Pickler appeared on season five of American Idol. She finished in sixth place. Pickler has released four studio albums as of this writing. Her debut album, Small Town Girl, went gold. She continued her reality TV appearances when she agreed to be on Dancing with the Stars for season 16. Pickler and her dance partner, Derek Hough, won the competition.
Next: This American Idol was one of the Three Divas.
6. Jennifer Hudson
- Net worth: $20 million
Jennifer Hudson became known as one of the Three Divas on season three of American Idol (the other two divas were Fantasia Barrino and LaToya London). Although Hudson was eliminated, she went on to enjoy great success. Hudson’s $20 million net worth is from several sources. Among them was her deal with Weight Watchers (she ended that partnership in 2014), a book deal, and her salary from acting roles and album sales.
Next: This former Idol has found success in three industries.
7. Chris Daughtry
- Net worth: $10 million
Chris Daughtry appeared on season five of American Idol. He finished in fourth place. As of this writing, he has released six studio albums. Daughtry has also tried acting. He has appeared in CSI:NY, The Passion: Live, Trollz, Studio City, and Star Wars: Cantina Bands. In addition, the singer created a variant cover for a Batman comic book back in 2016.
Next: This contestant made Idol history.
8. Scotty McCreery
- Net worth: $4 million
Scotty McCreery won season 10 of American Idol. At the time, he was the youngest male winner and the fourth male in a row to win. McCreery has released four studio albums as of this writing. His debut album, Clear as Day, went platinum. His second album, Christmas with Scotty McCreery, went gold. McCreery made history when he became the first country artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. He was also the youngest man to debut at No. 1 (he was 18 years old at the time).
Next: Underwood is the most successful American Idol contestant.
9. Carrie Underwood
- Net worth: $85 million
Carrie Underwood was the fourth season winner. She went on to become one of the best-selling musical artists in the country. During the last 13 years, she has won 12 American Country Music awards and 19 nominations. In 2008, Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. At the time, she was the youngest member to be inducted.
Next: This contestant broke a Billboard record.
10. Kelly Clarkson
- Net worth: $28 million
Clarkson won the very first ever season of American Idol in 2002. She’s had several top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Her most notable hits are “Because of You” and “Breakaway.” Her single, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” broke the Billboard record for the biggest jump to the No.1 spot in chart history (from No. 97 to No. 1), during the first week it was released.
Next: This beloved favorite was the runner-up his season.
11. Ruben Studdard
- Net worth: $3 million
Ruben Studdard was the winner of season two of American Idol. Clay Aiken was the runner up. As of this writing, Studdard has released six albums. His debut album, Soulful, was certified platinum, and his second album, I Need an Angel, was certified gold. In addition, he appeared in the musical Ain’t Misbehavin’ in 2009. He then went on tour with Clay Aiken in 2010.
Next: This singer has an amusing name.
12. Phillip Phillips
- Net worth: $3.5 million
Phillip Phillips won season 11 of American Idol. He persevered despite the fact that he reportedly had to undergo eight kidney surgeries during the season. Although he considered quitting the show due to immense pain, Phillips pressed on and finished in first place. Phillips has released four studio albums as of this writing. His album, The World from the Side of the Moon, went platinum.
Next: This Idol alum appeared on Broadway.
13. Fantasia Barrino
- Net worth: $3 million
Fantasia Barrino won season three of American Idol. After the show ended, she went on to enjoy great success. Barrino has received six Grammy nominations. In addition, she appeared in the Broadway show The Color Purple, playing the role of Celie. Barrino has released six studio albums as of this writing. Her debut album, Free Yourself, went platinum, and her second album, Fantasia, went gold.
Next: He didn’t win American Idol, but he’s still a champion.
14. David Archuleta
- Net worth: $5 million
David Archuleta appeared on season seven of American Idol. He finished in second place. Archuleta has released six studio albums as of this writing. His self-titled debut album and his fourth album, Forevermore, were both certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Archuleta won his first signing competition at the age of 10. At the age of 12, he became the Junior Vocal Champion on Star Search 2.
Next: This former Idol contestant is fighting for a cause that’s close to his heart.
15. Elliott Yamin
- Net worth: $6 million
Elliott Yamin appeared on the fifth season of American Idol. He finished in third place. He released a total of six studio albums as of this writing. His single “Wait for You,” from his self-titled album, went platinum. Before American Idol, Yamin worked as a disc jockey for R&B radio station WCDX/Power 92 FM. Yamin, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 16, has been an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation since 2007.
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