American Idol Success Can Reap Hopefuls A Small Fortune

Feb. 25 2010, Published 9:10 a.m. ET

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Sure we know Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson are making ends meet, but can American Idol flash-in-the-pans save up a fortune, even when the fame is oh so fleeting?

Yes, has learned, according to a New York Times report released this week, based on new information from copies of 2009 contracts filed in a California state court under a law that mandates official approval of show biz deals with minors.

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Most winners of the show earn at least $1 million in the first year after their run on the show, insiders told the paper, and even those in the top five walk away with at least $100,000 from their stint. The 2009 winner, Kris Allen, has made at least $650,000 -- including $100,000 he made shouting, “I’m going to Disney World” to a camera, moments after he was declared the winner — after the season ended, according to the report.

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The money comes from performance fees and merchandising royalties from the show's popular summer arena tour, as well as other industry opportunities (like the Disney spot) that arise out of the new found fame.

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Still, while the money is good, the limelight doesn't always last forever, as 2006 American Idol winner Taylor Hicks can attest to: the salt-and-pepper haired crooner is currently in a touring production of Grease in Milwaukee.


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