After 15 seasons, American Idol has made superstars out of a number of unsuspecting singers, but while the show itself brought in millions of viewers for Fox, it also brought millions of dollars to its biggest stars.
A number of American Idol‘s alumni have gone from modest backgrounds to banking some serious cash after appearing on the series over the past 13 years, including these five stars have American Idol to thank for helping to make them multi-millionaires.
Net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth): $550 million
While Simon Cowell had some fame in the U.K. after appearing on as a judge on the original series, Pop Idol, American Idol made Simon the superstar he is today. Cowell quickly catapulted American Idol into the stratosphere with his harsh critiques when the singing show debut back in 2002, and he had the pay check to prove it.
Before Simon opted to leave the American Idol judging panel in 2009, the Huffington Post speculated that year that Cowell had made a staggering $36 million from appearing on the series in 2008 alone.
Net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth): $28 million
Kelly Clarkson previously revealed that she was actually homeless and living in her car before appearing on the very first season of American Idol back in 2002.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2011, Clarkson admitted that she hoped appearing on the series would allow her to pay off a few bills after she found herself sleeping in her car after her apartment burned down.
“I had no money and I had to sleep in my car for three days. I just auditioned for this thing that said they’d pay you, and it happened to be American Idol,” Clarkson confessed, “I didn’t go into it thinking this would happen; I went into it thinking it might pay my electric bill.”
Net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth): $55 million
Before auditioning for the fourth season of American Idol, Carrie Underwood was an Oklahoma student who grew up on a farm. Underwood even revealed to Parade magazine last year that she was actually just hoping to make enough money from the show to pay off her student debt and get “a real job.”
“I always kept in my head, ‘If nothing else ever comes of this, I got to do the coolest thing ever and I won American Idol,’ ” Carrie said last year, “I was like, ‘Okay, I will just have fun with this and save up as much money as I can and finish school and get a real job.’ “
Net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth): $5 million
Adam Lambert was working hard on the stage before American Idol helped to made him a millionaire.
In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, Adam revealed that he took a huge risk by auditioning for the show back in 2009 after he was told that he would give up his job performing in the musical Wicked to appear on the show.
“That was my salary. That’s how I lived. And they said, ‘You can’t do that anymore,’ ” Adam told the site, “What a risk that was to have to say goodbye to my job … I’m so glad I took it, because if I hadn’t, if I’d done the safe thing, where would I be? Probably still in the chorus.”
Net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth): $375 million
Since being named the host of American Idol 15 seasons ago, Ryan Seacrest’s life has been turned upside down.
Speaking to People ahead of the American Idol grand finale earlier this week, Seacrest revealed that he was actually struggling to pay rent on a one bedroom apartment before the series debuted in 2002.
“I can’t even begin to compare my life then and now,” Ryan told People, “I mean, when this all started, I was living in a one-bedroom apartment and splitting the rent with another dude.”
The first of the two-part American Idol finale will air tonight at 8/7c p.m. on Fox.
[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]