Carrie Underwood Vs. Kelly Clarkson — Who’s The Most Successful American Idol?

Ryan Seacrest is singing the praises of Carrie Underwood — at the expense of Kelly Clarkson.

During an appearance on The Today Show on January 5, Seacrest unequivocally named Underwood his most successful American Idol ever, much to the dismay of many Kelly Clarkson fans.

The Today Show host Matt Lauer put the long time host on the spot on the live NBC morning show, asking him to not be diplomatic when answering the big question that’s plagued the show for years, “who is the biggest star to come out of [American Idol]?”

Without hesitation, Seacrest unequivocally answered “Carrie Underwood,” who won the Fox talent search in 2004 and has gone on to sell more than 15 million albums worldwide, according to Billboard.

Lauer’s fellow The Today Show co-host Natalie Morales then chimed in with season one winner Kelly Clarkson’s name, to which Seacrest replied, “Kelly too, but I was just on New Year’s with Carrie and she’s just a superstar, she really is — so I take Carrie.”

so ready for this. Play us into the countdown @carrieunderwood

A photo posted by Ryan Seacrest (@ryanseacrest) on

The comment caused quite a stir between Kelly and Carrie’s dedicated fans online, with many taking sides on who Seacrest should have crowned American Idol‘s most successful export.

“@kelly_clarkson has actually sold more than all other Idol contestants COMBINED, internationally! She’s the star!,” Twitter user @saltire123 wrote on the social media site, whilst @thenickgarnder added, ‏”If you live in USA, ya gotta give it to Carrie. Outside of it, thus…globally, the answer is Kelly Clarkson.

User ‏@Tarodec28 also got in on the Carrie v. Kelly competition, tweeting “@TODAYshow Absolutely! Hard to choose between Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but Carrie is the most successful idol winner.”

But Ryan’s latest admission raises the question — who’s really the most successful American Idol of all time? Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood?


Billboard reported in October, 2015, that Underwood has sold more than 15.3 million copies of her first four studio albums and her Greatest Hits compilation, Decade 1, in the U.S., whilst Clarkson is clocking in at 13.9 million domestic sales for 7 studio albums and her 2012 Greatest Hits compilation, Chapter One. In terms of worldwide sales, Billboard reported in 2014 that Clarkson has sold 61 million records worldwide, whilst Carrie has moved closer to 56 million records worldwide, according to Parade.

Winner: Both! Carrie Underwood is the domestic winner, while Kelly wins for worldwide sales.


Carrie Underwood is riding high with a reported 136 major career awards, including a staggering 7 Grammy awards, whilst Clarkson is reported to have taken home 62 major honors since winning American Idol in 2002, including 3 Grammy Awards.

Winner: Carrie Underwood


Carrie has toured the country four times in her career, with her 2013 “Blown Away Tour” being the first of her headlining shows to see her head outside North America. Kelly on the other hand has headlined 7 major tours in her career. While both have grossed millions, all of Clarkson’s tours have seen her play multiple shows outside the confines of North America.

Winner: Kelly Clarkson

Top Earnings

It’s regularly a tussle for the top when Forbes reveals their annual list of top earning American Idol contestants. In 2014, the money site announced that Carrie Underwood brought in $10 million within the site’s eligibility period, making her the top-earning Idol of the year, whilst Clarkson allegedly made around $8 million in the same period. As for who’s worth the most overall, CelebrityNetWorth is alleging that Underwood is worth $75 million, whilst Kelly is worth closer to $28 million.

Winner: Carrie Underwood

Acting Roles

Whilst both Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson have made multiple musical performances on various TV shows, both have also branched out into the acting world with various TV and movie roles. Underwood has made a guest appearance on How I Met Your Mother, appeared on the big screen in Soul Surfer and drove 2013’s live TV musical, The Sound of Music Live!, which drew more than 38 million viewers, according to Deadline Hollywood. Kelly, meanwhile, made her movie acting debut in the pretty disastrous From Justin to Kelly, but has since redeemed herself after making special guest appearances in the sitcom, Reba, as well as lending her voice to the animated Disney series, Phineas and Ferb.

Winner: It’s a tie!

So, who’s your most successful American Idol of all time? Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson?

[Photos by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for TOSHIBA CORPORATION and Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for iHeartMedia]