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Which American Idol Winners Are The Richest?

Season 20 of "American Idol" wrapped in May 2022, and that means 20 people have won the popular singing competition to date. Not all of those winners may necessarily be huge superstars or household names, but the majority of them have still achieved some form of success. While the last handful of winners are still accumulating their fame and wealth, many that came before them have become millionaires through their music and business ventures.

It's probably not a huge surprise who the top two are — though the richer of the two isn't necessarily the one who has the most going on. It's also not a given that the "American Idol" winners who are the biggest household names are automatically ranked that way in terms of net worth, either. Who's rolling in the cash since they took the top prize? These are the richest "American Idol" winners, ranked from least to most wealthy.

Nick Fradiani appeared on Broadway

Nick Fradiani double dipped in reality TV competitions. First, he competed in "America's Got Talent" as the frontman of the band Beach Avenue, but they were sent packing during Judgment Week. Undeterred, Fradiani tried his hand — well, his voice — at "American Idol" the following year, and won the whole thing. Fradiani released his solo debut album, "Hurricane," through the label Big Machine Entertainment, but apparently realized it wasn't a good fit for him and decided to make his way as an indie artist instead.

Like many other "American Idol" contestants and winners, Fradiani also gave Broadway a shot, joining the touring company of "A Bronx Tale" in 2019. It's all been enough to put Fradiani in the two comma club, as he has an estimated net worth of $1 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. With the COVID-19 pandemic (seemingly) in the rearview mirror and live shows and plays becoming prevalent again, the sky's the limit for Fradiani's earning potential going forward.

Candice Glover has done some acting

Season 12 of "American Idol" was an unusual one in terms of the judging panel. It was Randy Jackson's final year in the role, the last of the original trio of himself, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul to still be around at that point. Still, the show must go on, and returning contestant Candice Glover emerged victorious. Glover previously appeared on Season 9 and Season 11 of the show. She was eliminated in the Hollywood Round and the Las Vegas Round, respectively.

Glover has thus far only released one full album, 2014's "Music Speaks." Since then, she has pivoted to acting. In 2017, she made her Broadway debut in the Christmas-themed musical "Home For The Holidays," a huge moment for her. "It definitely feels like an accomplishment to finally make it to Broadway," she told NBC News. That same year, she appeared in two episodes of WGN's "Underground," and in 2019 she played the character Tiana in the comedy series "GRITS: Girls Raised in the South." All told, Glover has been able to build up a net worth of $1 million from her multifaceted career, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Lee DeWyze's music has been featured in several big TV shows

Lee DeWyze has an expansive discography consisting of seven full-length studio albums and over a dozen singles and EPs. One surefire way to earn lots of cash from your music is to have it featured on television shows, and DeWyze has been smart about embracing that. His music has been heard in the likes of "The Walking Dead," "Shameless," "Nashville," "Suits," and "Elementary" over the years, all of which has helped him amass a pretty respectable net worth of $1 million, according to Music Times.

But for DeWyze, making music isn't just about getting rich — he uses his talents and fame for good causes as well. He recorded a single called "Fight" to give away as a gift to anyone who donated $5 to the One for the Heart Foundation (per Idol Chatter), and he has also performed at multiple charity benefits and events.

Caleb Johnson has toured with some huge bands

Caleb Johnson was 19 years old when he tried out for Season 10 of "American Idol." He didn't get very far at the first time of trying, and the same thing happened when he returned for Season 11, failing to make the top 24. He took a year off, practiced a bit, and came back strong for Season 13. It paid off big time — he won the show and went on to amass a net worth of $1 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

After "American Idol," Johnson had success as a solo artist, but eventually settled into band life. He currently fronts Caleb Johnson & the Ramblin' Saints, with occasional Led Zeppelin drummer Jason Bonham serving as one of his studio musicians. Johnson has also toured with bands like KISS and Black Stone Cherry, and continues to release music both with his band and under his own name, per his official website.

Fantasia Barrino made some smart real estate moves

The winner of the third season of "American Idol," Fantasia Barrino came out swinging: Her debut album went double platinum and earned several Grammy nominations. She quickly turned her talents to acting, joining the Broadway cast of the musical "The Color Purple." She is also set to appear in the upcoming film adaptation of the show. Barrino's third album, "Back to Me," earned the "American Idol" winner her first Grammy Award.

Barrino has continued to release music and do live theater, as well as work on a number of television shows including "The Simpsons," "All of Us," and "RuPaul's Drag Race." She also appeared as herself in the Lifetime biopic "Life is Not a Fairy Tale," for which she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. Just acting, recording music, and touring is more than enough to help someone become a millionaire, but Barrino has also made some smart real estate moves that have added to her wealth. She has a net worth of $1 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Taylor Hicks landed a Las Vegas residency

Season 5 "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks was seen as a different kind of contestant, with a style more derived from classic rock and soul rather than the usual pop, country, or modern rock. During his time on the show, his fans had already named themselves the "Soul Patrol." Hicks had already released an independent album before appearing on the show, and following his "American Idol" win, he had his major-label debut.

Besides appearing on Broadway as Teen Angel in "Grease" — the role played by Frankie Avalon in the film — Hicks made history when he became the first "American Idol" winner to score a Las Vegas residency. A long-term Vegas casino residency is one of the most lucrative gigs a musician can have, bringing in the money of a tour but without the travel. All told, Hicks has an estimated net worth of about $2 million, per Net Worth Post.

Ruben Studdard played legendary jazz musician Fats Waller

It stands to reason that the winner of the first season of "American Idol" was going to be a huge star, but would the show be able to produce a second success story? Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard helped "American Idol" avoid a sophomore slump by being a platinum-selling artist right out of the gate, and continuing to have a prolific career for nearly twenty years since winning the competition.

Studdard is another "American Idol" contestant who has done both music and acting, first venturing into the latter in 2004 when he appeared in the TV show "One on One" and the movie "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed." He also played legendary jazz musician Fats Waller in the touring production of "Ain't Misbehavin'" in addition to a 2018 Broadway show called "Ruben & Clay's First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show" with "American Idol" Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken. All that hard work means that Studdard has a net worth of about $3 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Kris Allen was a surprise winner in Season 8

There wasn't much of a spotlight on Kris Allen in the early part of "American Idol" Season 8, with him receiving very little screen time despite continuing to advance. In this way, his eventual win was seen as something of an upset, particularly over runner-up Adam Lambert, who had been the clear favorite in the home stretch.

Allen's first major-label album featured the hit song "Live Like We're Dying," which landed on Billboard's top ten Adult Pop Songs of 2009. He's dropped a few more albums since then, but Allen has been quiet since his 2018 Christmas music tour. But, of course, the whole world kind of shut down for a couple years during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's hard to blame him for being largely absent from the public eye. Still, Allen is more than comfortable — according to Celebrity Net Worth, he has a net worth of $3.5 million.

Scotty McCreery wrote and produced a Hallmark movie

It's jarring the first time you hear Scotty McCreery's deep voice, as it isn't the sound you expect him to make. What's even more impressive is that he already had that bassy voice at age 16, when he auditioned for Season 10 of "American Idol." He would go on to win the competition, becoming the youngest male "American Idol" winner of all time and tying with Jordin Sparks as the youngest winner period, with both of them being 17 at the time of the finale.

McCreery's first album, "Clear as Day," was certified platinum in just three months. He has remained prolific since, with his most recent album being 2021's "Same Truck." McCreery embarked on a tour that same year. He has also ventured into filmmaking, writing and producing the Hallmark movie "Five More Minutes" based on his own song of the same name. It's all been paying off well for him, with his current net worth sitting at a very impressive $4 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

David Cook has toured extensively since winning American Idol

One of the few straightforward rock singers to win "American Idol," David Cook took the competition during the show's seventh season. In addition to four full-length albums, Cook also gave Broadway a shot when he joined the cast of "Kinky Boots" in 2018. "I am so thrilled and honored that I am going to be part of this show and get to work with so many amazing people," he told Billboard. "I love the collaborative aspect of theater, the idea of being part of a creative team and working it out in front of an audience each night."

Cook has also toured extensively since his time on "American Idol." Besides the obligatory Idols Live Tour, Cook co-headlined tours with Gavin DeGraw as well as fellow "American Idol" winner Kris Allen for 2021's Dave & Kris Go To Europe Acoustic Tour. Any musician will tell you that touring is how you make your money, and all the time on the road has paid off for Cook — his current net worth is about $5 million, according to Wealthy Gorilla.

Phillip Phillips had a huge hit with Home

Phillip Phillips — and, yes, that is his real name — not only won the eleventh season of "American Idol," but he would soon set an impressive milestone for the show. His coronation song, "Home," would go on to become the best-selling coronation song in "American Idol" history. It was also ubiquitous for a few years, being used in TV shows, movie trailers, multiple ad campaigns, during the 2012 Olympics, and was even included on a playlist made by Barack Obama of songs that defined his campaign and presidency.

"Home" is still Phillips' signature song, but he's released a lot more music since then and has toured with the likes of John Mayer and the Goo Goo Dolls. He very briefly dabbled in acting by appearing in a 2018 episode of "Hawaii Five-O," but that doesn't seem like something he's interested in pursuing especially hard. Not that Phillips needs to do anything besides his music — or licensing his music — to pay the bills, as his net worth is a comfortable $5.2 million (per Marca).

Jordin Sparks voiced Tabitha in the Rugrats reboot

Even though Jordin Sparks was only 16 when she first auditioned for "American Idol," she was already a few years into her professional career. Not only did she compete in multiple singing and talent competitions, but she had appeared in one of Alice Cooper's annual Christmas shows (per AZCentral) and went on two tours with Christian singer Michael W. Smith (per Brentwood TN Guide). But it wasn't until Sparks won the sixth season of "American Idol" that her career really took off.

In addition to four albums — most recently 2020's"Cider & Hennessy," a Christmas-themed record — Sparks has headlined her own tour and opened for Britney Spears and the Jonas Brothers. She's also been a steadily working actress, appearing in a number of television shows and movies in the 2010s. More recently, she worked on the rebooted "Rugrats" series as well as the 2021 Hallmark movie "A Christmas Treasure." New Business Herald puts her net worth at $8 million.

Kelly Clarkson earns over half a million per episode on The Voice

Kelly Clarkson definitely set the bar high for all future "American Idol" winners with her career following her debut season victory. Her music career immediately took off and has been going strong ever since, with 25 million albums sold worldwide. She also made history when she became the first artist ever — and not just among "American Idol" contestants — to reach the top of the pop, adult pop, adult contemporary, dance, and country music Billboard charts.

Clarkson didn't stop at music, though. She is the host of her own hit talk show, "The Kelly Clarkson Show," which has earned her two Emmy wins so far. All of that, on top of her side gigs as an actor and a coach on "The Voice" (she reportedly earns $560,000 per episode) has not only proven Clarkson's considerable talents and work ethic, but also her ability to make money. Her net worth is currently an incredible $45 million and climbing, Cosmopolitan confirms.

Carrie Underwood is the richest American Idol winner by far

All due respect to Kelly Clarkson, but there is another "American Idol" winner who leaves her in the dust in terms of financial success. Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood quickly became one of the most powerful forces in country music, and the number of records she has broken and things she was the first to do are too numerous to even list here. Suffice it to say that she is one of the most successful musicians of the last two decades, in any genre.

Underwood could have built a comfortable fortune just on her music and touring alone, but she didn't stop there. She has appeared in ad campaigns and served as a spokesperson for many companies, including Target, Skechers, Nintendo, Hershey's, Vitamin Water, Olay, Almay, Pedigree, and more. She also launched her own clothing line, Calia. Underwood has dabbled in acting, but that has been little more than a footnote in her career so far. She is the first and only "American Idol" winner with a nine-figure fortune, accumulating an eye-watering net worth of $140 million (per Celebrity Net Worth).