Forbes magazine have just released their official list of the highest paid American Idol contestants of 2008, with pop-country queen Carrie Underwood taking the top spot with a whopping $14 million.
The season four winner earned the big bank from a combination of record sales, extensive touring, and her endorsement deal with Vitamin Water. Underwoods 2007 album "Carnival Ride" performed strongly throughout 2008, selling almost 3 million copies in the States alone and scoring 5 consecutive number one singles on the country chart. Her overall record sales now total 9.6 million.
Also on the list at #3 is the original Idol Kelly Clarkson, who earned considerably less with $4.2 million. Clarkson also had an album released in 2007, the ill-fated "My December", which only yielded one hit single "Never Again" with sales failing to carry through to 2008.
1. Carrie Underwood - 14 million
- The Muskogee, Okla.-born country girl used Idol to launch a massively successful recording career. A three-time Grammy country vocal winner, Underwood has sold 9.6 million albums.
2. Jennifer Hudson - 5.0 million
- The multi-talented singer-actress won an Oscar in 2006 for her role in Dreamgirls. Her 2008 self-titled album has sold over 750,000 copies. Hudson was chosen to sing the national anthem at the 2009 Super Bowl.
3. Kelly Clarkson - 4.2 million - Idol's original queen has sold over 10 million albums. Her latest release, "All I Ever Wanted," hit No. 1 on Billboard charts.
4. Jordin Sparks - 3.1 million
- The season six winner broke out with "No Air," a duet with R&B crooner Chris Brown. She has toured with Alicia Keyes and is now on the road with tween sensations the Jonas Brothers.
5. Kellie Pickler - 2.3 million - Like fellow Idol alum Underwood, Pickler is more cowgirl than diva. She has sold 1 million records since the show. She is paid to endorse Sexy Hair products.
6. Clay Aiken - 2.2 million - The Raleigh, N.C., native maintains loyal following six years after finishing second on Idol. He has sold 4 million albums and penned a New York Times best-selling memoir. Aiken recently finished a run in Broadway's "Spamalot.
7. Chris Daughtry - 2.0 million - One of the first Idol rockers to reach the final four, Daughtry's debut album sold over 4 million copies. His follow-up is slated to hit stores this July.
8. David Cook - 2.0 million - Once a small-town songwriter, Cook has a top-selling album and a lucrative endorsement deal with Skechers.
9. David Archuleta - 1.3 million - Edged out in the seventh season by Cook, baby-faced Archuleta has gone on to release a successful album of soulful pop. The self-titled debut record has sold 700,000 copies. The 18 year-old has played more than 100 live shows since Idol.
10. Taylor Hicks - $300,000 - Prematurely gray-haired soul master Hicks charmed Idol audiences and won the fifth season. He's now playing Teen Angel in a national tour of Grease.