Since 2002, “American Idol” has launched the careers of previous unknowns like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and made household names of judges like Simon Cowell and host Ryan Seacrest. But what does the winner actually get for winning the singing competition?
According to Newsweek, the winner and sometimes the runner-up artists receive recording deals from Hollywood Records that include $125,000 upon signing a contract, another $125,000 if they finalize a debut album within four months and a $300,000 advance recording budget. The winner also receives $1,000 per week while recording and $1,000 for each master recording of a song they deliver to Hollywood Records.
Although those are not small numbers, it’s no secret that “American Idol” isn’t as lucrative as it once was. During the first nine seasons of the series, winners typically earned $1 million in their first year after signing a contract, and singers who made it to the final 12 could record singles during their run on the show and participate in a live tour afterward.