Who Are The Top-Earning ‘American Idol’ Contestants?

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Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)



She was American Idol’s very first winner, and ten years later, Kelly Clarkson is proving she still holds the number one spot.

Forbes compiled a list of American Idol contestants and ranked them by earnings. Kelly Clarkson was the most profitable of them all during the period examined, from May, 2011 to May, 2012. She pulled in $8 million.

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Two more artists tied for second place: Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry, who each grossed $5 million.

Scotty McCreery came in third, and as he tells Forbes, he’s grateful to Idol for jump-starting his career.

“It’s meant everything,” says McCreery of the show. “I didn’t have a career before, so it was the starting point for my career and it got me going.”

McCreery only pocketed about a fifth of the profits, and at first glance, he said it looks “depressing.”

“But I’m still making a good amount,” added McCreery. “I’m not in any way complaining…I’m doing a lot better than I was a few summers ago, living off the coin jar in my truck.”

He is far from living off pennies, and at 19-years-old, he’s exceeded expectations with his debut album, Clear As Day, selling over 1 million copies.

Not far behind McCreery is Jennifer Hudson, who earned $3 million, and Jordin Sparks, who secured $2 million.

The list concluded with Adam Lambert at $1.5 million; Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler, both at $1.1 million; and David Archuleta and David Cook at $1 million each.

-Ashley Quadros, CBS Local/Sacramento

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