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If You Win 'American Idol,' You'll Get $650,000… Minimum!

Thu, February 25, 2010 11:35am EDT by 1 Comment


A new report reveals that anyone in the Idol top 5 is guaranteed big bucks!

Regardless of how we feel about this season’s American Idol finalists, five of them are guaranteed to walk away from the competition with pretty hefty wallets, according to a new report from The New York Times. Citing a contract signed during last season’s competition and filed in the state court of Los Angeles, the Times reports that last season’s winner, Kris Allen, earned $650,000 from his time on Idol. And sources close to Idol say that no previous winner has earned less than $1 million within a year of winning, after tallying performance fees and royalties from merchandise sold during the American Idol summer tours.

And the rest of the top five Idol finalists don’t do too badly, either. The Times says this season’s top five are expected to earn about $100,000 from their time on the show, and up to four times that much if the show offers them a record deal. As a consolation prize, everyone else in the top 12 is guaranteed at least several thousand dollars.

If you think these numbers are relatively high, you’re not the only one. A talent agent at a major agency tells the Times they’re “shocked that they give [finalists] that much money.” Contracts for new artists today typically include a $100,000 to $150,000 advance (and that’s being generous!) Of course, there is a catch to signing an Idol contract. Whereas most contracts link an artist to a specific label for three to four years, the Idol contracts apparently bind performers to the show’s producers for up to seven years!

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the ways last season’s top five contestants have cashed in:

  1. Kris Allen received an advance of $350,000 for his debut album, Kris Allen.
  2. Kris received $100,000 from Disney to shout, “I’m going to Disney World” into the cameras after winning last season, and for a special visit to the park.
  3. Kris also received $100,000 from Disney for filming segments for ABC’s Walt Disney World Christmas Parade program.
  4. Everyone in last season’s top five (Kris, Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey and Matt Giraud) received $50,000 to to participate in Disney World’s Idol Experience attraction.

So tell us, BFFs — are you surprised by these numbers? Do you think the American Idol finalists are being overpaid? Any of you think they’re being underpaid? Let us know what you think!