American Idol kickstarted many of their contestants' careers, even for those who didn't finish in first place. Find out which series' alumni made it big, and who has the highest net worth.
35. Danny Gokey - $600,000
Starting us off is Milwaukee-born singer, Danny Gokey. He belted his pipes on American Idol's eighth season and left a serious impression on the judges. He went on to win third place for the season.
While he didn't manage to take home the big prize, Danny walked away a winner in his own way. Since his "blessings rained from the sky" during his appearance, he went on to have a successful gospel singing career. Today, Celebrity Net Worth estimates he's got $600K in the bank.
34. Constantine Maroulis - $750,000
He may not have made it to the finale, but he definitely made a name for himself. Next up on the roundup of the richest American Idol contestants is Constantine Maroulis. The 46-year-old singer first appeared in season four of the show, where he placed sixth. But the early send-home didn't put a dent in his career.
Since his time on the show, Maroulis has made it on Broadway. He even scored a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his part in Rock of Ages! Thanks to that work, plus other roles like Jekyll and Hyde, Constantine is believed to have $750,000 to his name, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
33. Lauren Alaina - $800,000
Like most of these American Idol alumni, Lauren Alaina has been keeping busy. The 26-year-old made serious noise back in 2011 when she appeared on the tenth season of the show. People just couldn't believe the pipes on this teenager! But she certainly proved her worth and made it to the season's finale that year.
The Georgia-born country star went on to release three studio albums, Wildflower, Road Less Traveled, and her latest release, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World. Throw in some CMT Music Award nominations and an appearance on Dancing with the Stars, it's no surprise that Celebrity Net Worth pegs Lauren's value to be at $800K!
32. Fantasia Barrino - $1 Million
Fantasia Barrino was a season three American Idol favorite who went on to win first place that year. And after? She took her gospel-style pipes all the way from the competition stage to the recording studio and got to work on her album. Her first track, I Believe went on to debut at number one on the charts.
But she didn't stop there. In the 17 years since her time on the hit show, Fantasia has released seven studio albums, which includes the most recent addition, Sketchbook, which came out in 2019. From humble beginnings to certified Celebrity Net Worth millionaire, life hasn't turned out too bad for Fantasia.
31. Candice Glover - $1 Million
It may have taken three tries, but Candice Glover never gave up on her American Idol dream. The South Carolina-born singer competed in the 9th, 11th, and 12th season, finally achieving her goal of taking home the big prize with her cover of Chasing Pavements and her original track, I Am Beautiful.
Candice rode her winning high all the way to the studio following the season 12 finale. She went on to release Music Speaks, her first album, which went on to peak at number 3 on the R&B Top 100 and number 14 overall. And now? Celebrity Net Worth estimates the determined singer has a net worth of $1 million.
30. Caleb Johnson - $1 Million
Caleb Johnson appeared on American Idol twice before hitting the jackpot the third time. Johnson won the thirteenth season and now has a net worth of around $1 million, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth.
But the millionaire singer prefers recording his music in a non-traditional way. "That record label spiel is really a facade, and you can do whatever record you want to and give it to the fans," Caleb said after leaving Interscope Records. "The record label for me has honestly hindered me from getting the music out to my fans."
29. Tamyra Gray - $1 Million
Tamyra was part of American Idol's first batch of contestants, starring alongside season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson. After losing the show, the performer went on to act on Broadway and television, with a recurring role in the drama series Boston Public. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she has a net worth of $1 million,
Three years after coming in fourth place, Gray said winning the show would have limited her career. "I'm not upset with the turnout. If I had won, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this," Tamyra explained. "Kelly hasn't been able to do any TV stuff. Record labels just want you to sing."
28. Ace Young - $1 Million
Ace appeared on the fifth season of the TV show and is married to season three runner-up Diana DeGarmo! A big, American Idol family. Young may not have won, but he still sits on a net worth of $1 million, as Celebrity Net Worth states. The star discussed his first musical inspiration in a post-Idol interview.
"Jackie Wilson was the first singer that spoke to me. When I was 8 years old, my dad took me to purchase my very first CD," Young shared. "I walked up to my dad holding this CD. My dad said, 'This is the one? What is it about this album?' I replied, 'I feel like he's talking to me.'"
27. Jason Castro - $1 Million
Jason was a fan favorite when he left the series as the fourth-place finalist in season seven. He may not have come in number 1, but various sites report the artist has a net worth of $1 million. But for Castro, music is more than a way to earn money - it's a family matter.
Both of Jason's siblings are musicians, and his brother even appeared on the show, too! "Every family gathering involved playing music in Spanish, then eventually English when everyone learned it," the singer's sister, Jackie, said. "In middle school, Jason started on drums, and Michael started on guitar."
26. Melinda Doolittle - $1.5 Million
Melina Marie Doolittle may have finished season six in third place, but her bank account has way more than '3rd place' digits. According to multiple sources, Melinda's net worth is about $1.5 million. Yet when she first started singing, a choir teacher called her tone-deaf!
"They loved my charisma and energy, so they let me join the choirs, and I could do all the hand motions, smile, and everything, but they asked me to lipsync," Doolittle revealed. "I was lipsyncing in this choir for years and never sang out. Finally, I told my mother what had been going on and that I wanted to sing out loud."
25. James Durbin - $1.5 Million
This fourth place finalist for American Idol's tenth season became the lead singer for Quiet Riot before quitting the band in 2019. Durbin hasn't released an album since, but Celebrity Net Worth puts his net worth at about $1.5 million. "I've always been around music and performance," James said of his musical origins.
"My dad grew up in a musical family; my mother's father was a marching tuba player - his last march he had his oxygen tank with him," he continued. "I knew I wanted to perform no matter what. I started in musical theater, and in one of my last plays, I joined a metal band with the orchestra drummer."
24. Kimberley Locke - $1.5 Million
"Well, when I was a contestant, there was no YouTube, no Facebook, no Twitter, no nothing! We had flip phones," Kimberly Locke said of how things changed since her 2003 appearance on American Idol. Something else that looks a little different? The star's net worth. Various sites estimate the singer is worth $1.5 million.
According to Kimberley, being in the music business is no simple task. "You have to be very confident and strong in who you are to thrive in this industry," Locke explained. "You're putting your art out there, your talent, all of you - mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually."
23. Haley Reinhart - $1.5 Million
Reinhart starred in the show's tenth season in 2011, and went on to release four studio albums: Listen Up! (2012), Better (2016), What's That Sound? (2017), and Lo-Fi Soul (2019). The artist's hard work has earned her a net worth of about $1.5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
"My earliest childhood memories are running around festivals and clubs, helping my dad load in the gear, perusing around the adult crowd, dancing to my parents' multiple bands playing all over Chicago land, and getting up on stage as early as 3 years old singing harmonies with them and their band," Reinhart shared.
22. Diana DeGarmo - $1.5 Million
DeGarmo rose to fame in 2004 when she became the youngest runner-up in American Idol history. Over a decade later, Celebrity Net Worth estimates the former contestant's worth to be around $1.5 million. "Being on Idol was quite the learning and growing experience for me. It helped me in more ways than one," Diana said.
"Being able to compete on a world-class level when I was only 16 let me know that I was doing the right thing," DeGarmo added. "Later, the experience allowed me to expand my horizons and try things other than singing, like acting on Broadway and in TV and film."
21. Bo Bice - $1.5 Million
Bo Bice came in second place to the legendary Carrie Underwood in 2005. But the singer, who Celebrity Net Worth estimates is now worth $1.5 million, said that only tears "of joy" were shed when he lost. "There's not a lot of people who get to see all of their dreams come true in one night," Bo said of the season finale.
And the runner-up only had good things to say about his former competition. "I think over the last decade Carrie [Underwood] has shown that not only was she worthy of the crown of being an American Idol winner, but she has had a wonderful solo career, and I am extremely proud of her," Bice shared.
20. Josh Gracin - $2 Million
You might remember this friendly face from American Idol's second season. Gracin wowed viewers and finished in fourth place with his country music talents. After the show, Josh signed a record deal with Lyric Street Records and released various albums.
"I love making music. I love creating," Gracin said. "If things are going good or if things are going bad, you can sit down and turn on the radio and listen and just escape a while. Music's the universal language." Lucky for Josh, the universal language has earned him a net worth of $2 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
19. Taylor Hicks - $2 Million
Hicks won first-place back in 2006 but was dropped by his record label two years later. Nowadays, the singer co-owns a BBQ restaurant in Alabama and has a net worth of $2 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In a post-win interview, Taylor revealed he was at his wit's end when auditioning for Idol.
"I really was at the end of my rope; it was my last straw," Hicks admitted. "I wavered on setting the age limit for my own success for years. I told myself I needed to 'make' it before I was thirty-one, then thirty-four, then thirty-two. I would throw those numbers around and say that that's when I needed to stop."
18. Mandisa Lynn Hundley - $3 Million
Mandisa's singing career began on the show's fifth season. Today, she's a gospel and contemporary Christian recording artist with a net worth of $3 million, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth. The performer isn't shy about how being on the hit series changed her life.
"It [American Idol] was the highest-rated [TV show], and a lot of people were watching," Mandisa explained. "Having that many eyeballs on you, it really opened up the door for me. Coming from ninth place and getting to do the music I love all these years later, it's just a testament to that show."
17. Ruben Studdard - $3 Million
Ruben, known as the "Velvet Teddy Bear" to fans of the show, won first place in Idol's legendary second season. In 2003, he received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. So it might not be surprising to hear that Studdard has a net worth of $3 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
But Studdard doesn't let success get to his head. "I just go in there [the studio] with an open mind and ready to work," he said. "If you let any of those pressures bother you, I think it kind of messes with the creativity... Being free to be creative can't be done if you're getting in your own way, so to speak."
16. Kris Allen - $3.5 Million
After Kris Allen won the eighth season of American Idol, his coronation song, No Boundaries, rocketed to BillBoard Hot 100's Top 20. What followed was the release of multiple successful albums, and as reported by Celebrity Net Worth, a whopping net worth of 3.5 million!
In 2018, Kris expressed regret at not having an Idol mentor after his win. "I wish there would have been. There were people who reached out to me and gave me their numbers. David Cook did that and Carrie, too, but I didn't know them all that well, so it felt a little awkward to call them up randomly," Allen said.
15. Phillip Phillips - $3.5 Million
This winner's coronation song, Home, became the best-selling track in American Idol history! After finishing in first place, Phillips released three albums and toured the country. He now has a net worth of $3.5 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
The singer recently revealed it wasn't his idea to audition for the series that kicked off his career. "I didn't really know what I was getting into," Phillips admitted. "My mom, she watched [American Idol] religiously, and she found out there were tryouts a few hours away, so I went and waited in line."
14. Kimberly Caldwell - $4 Million
Long-time viewers might remember this talented finalist from season two. After American Idol, Caldwell released new music before and launched a career as a television host. But Kimberly has been hustling long before her time in the singing competition. "When I was eleven, I won the original Star Search five times," she shared.
"That led to landing a gig that same year, in Branson, Missouri, in a big production show," Caldwell continued. "I did two shows a day and home-schooled, so I really learned a lot about work ethic." The hard work paid off, as Celebrity Net Worth puts Caldwell's worth at about $4 million.
13. Scotty McCreery - $4 Million
Since winning Idol's tenth season in 2011, Scotty McCreery has been hard at work building an impressive net worth of about $4 million, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth. The country singer's secret to success? When the going gets tough, Scotty gets going, too.
"I've always been taught that it's not always gonna be roses; there's good times and bad times," McCreery said. "Enjoy the good times for sure but don't take it for granted. Bad times, you're either gonna sit there and wallow in it, or you can pull yourself up by the bootstraps and take another step forward."
12. David Cook - $5 Million
After winning the singing competition in 2008, Cook released various albums, one of which is certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association. Celebrity Net Worth reports the star is valued at about $5 million. And according to Cook, his bank account isn't the only thing that's changed since the show.
"I was a 'rock' guy, but the further away I've gotten from that, the more I've opened up and found inspiration in the peripherals," the artist explained. "I wouldn't have had the courage earlier in my career, but now I have the confidence to go after the sound I want."
11. David Archuleta - $5 Million
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Archuleta boasts a net worth of about $5 million, but his path to stardom hasn't been easy. After finishing second in 2008, the star was signed by a label company but dropped after two albums. David then took a 2-year break from singing and came back stronger than ever as an independent artist.
"I can just be myself, which is super refreshing," he said of working independently. "Only challenge I have is how do I promote- I don't have the same team of product managers, publicity, radio that came with record label. I'm learning you need to hire a PR person, radio person, etc. I'm still figuring it out."
10. Kellie Pickler - $7 Million
A 19-year-old Kellie rose to fame after appearing on American Idol's fifth season. The singer has since released four albums and even starred in two of her own shows: I Love Kellie Pickler and Pickler and Ben. All of that has led to a whopping net worth of $7 million, as stated by Celebrity Net Worth.
In a 2018 interview, Pickler discussed her humble beginnings before Idol. "I remember experiencing so many first-time things with the world, you know?" she said. "I was so green - I had never been on an airplane; I had never been anywhere. It was just a whole different world going from Albemarle, North Carolina to Hollywood."
9. Elliot Yamin - $6 Million
Fans might remember this artistic gem from American Idol's fifth season. Yamin may have placed third on the show, but his post-Idol album made number one on the Billboard Independent Albums chart and number three on the Billboard 200. Since then, Elliot has garnered a net worth of $6 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
"It was the best thing I ever did for myself, the best opportunity I ever had," Yamin said of his time on the hit show. "I didn't have much going on in my life at the time. You know, my friends, without them, I probably wouldn't have auditioned." Those are some good buddies to have around!
8. Clay Aiken - $6 Million
Aiken won second place in season two and has since sold over 5 million albums. In 2014, the performer tried his hand in politics and ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, losing in the general election. But the singer turned politician, who Celebrity Net Worth values at $6 million, said he never imagined himself becoming a star.
"I auditioned [for American Idol] just for fun," Aiken admitted. "I thought about that the other day after I went to the grocery store and had to sign fifteen autographs before leaving. On one hand, it's just so flattering. On the other hand, sometimes it would be nice to get the bread and leave, you know?"
7. Jordin Sparks - $8 Million
Sparks made history when she became the youngest Idol winner in 2007 at only 17 years old. The singer then collaborated with Chris Brown, earned a Grammy Award nomination, and sold millions of albums before venturing into acting. Celebrity Net Worth estimates Sparks' worth is about $8 million.
It's no secret the singing competition changed Jordin's life. "When I won, all of a sudden I was like the most recognizable person on the planet for like 24 hours," Sparks recalled. "It was absolutely insane. I just remember thinking, 'Oh my gosh, this really just happened.' And then my whole world turned upside down."
6. Chris Daughtry - $10 Million
How did season 5's fourth-place winner earn a net worth of around $10 million, as listed by Celebrity Net Worth? After Idol, Chris became the frontman for a Grammy-nominated rock band that has sold over eight million albums. No biggie. Daughtry is the first to admit that fame has changed him - for the better.
"I feel like a totally different person now," Chris said. "Traveling the world has been such a gift and has shown me so many different cultures, walks of life, etc. It's given me a broader world view and has made me a more compassionate and empathetic human being. And I like this guy a lot more."
5. Katharine McPhee - $14 Million
This singer became a household name when she appeared on American Idol in 2006. After finishing in second place, McPhee released five albums and led a successful acting career. She's now married to Grammy Award-winning music executive David Foster. According to Celebrity Net Worth, McPhee boasts a net worth of about $14 million!
Yet before the singing competition, Katharine had close to no experience. "I had very little performance experience so what I learned was that to be a great performer you've just got to do it," she shared. "You've got to find spaces to experience and learn and keep trying. I also learned that preparation is the most important thing."
4. Jennifer Hudson - $25 Million
With a net worth of about $25 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, it's pretty clear that this season three finalist made it big time. Since competing in Idol, Hudson has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and two Grammy Awards. In 2020, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world!
For this critically-acclaimed artist, every gig on the path to fame was a positive experience. "I've loved all my jobs, even when I worked at Burger King," Jennifer told The Guardian. Could you imagine the stunning multi-millionaire serving you a Whopper?
3. Adam Lambert - $30 Million
Lambert shot to fame after finishing as runner-up in season 8. With over 3 million albums sold worldwide, it might not be so surprising that the star has a net worth of $30 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Although becoming a part of the legendary band, Queen certainly helped.
But joining the musical icons in the late Freddi Mercury's place comes with its own set of pressures. "I'm aware that the audience is not seeing Freddie," Adam said. "That's why I have to give the best performance I possibly can and make sure nobody leaves disappointed."
2. Kelly Clarkson - $45 Million
Kelly won the first-ever season of American Idol, and the rest is history. Clarkson has had a successful career in singing and entertainment and is now the host of her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show. The Hollywood icon has a net worth of $45 million, as listed by Celebrity Net Worth.
While interviewing Jennifer Love Hewitt on her talk show, Clarkson revealed that celebrities had been "really mean to us" during American Idol "because we're from a talent show and it was the first season." Kelly recalled how some people were "so rude." Well, look at her now!
1. Carrie Underwood - $140 Million
Underwood comes from a small Oklahoma town with "one stop light, one school," as she put it. It's safe to say the starlet has come a long way from home, as she boasts multiple Grammy awards and a net worth of $140 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Carrie's career took off after she won the fourth season on American Idol. Since then, she has sold a whopping 70 million records worldwide and is the female artist with the most number-one entries on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. The small-town girl made it big!