Carrie Underwood, who won season four of American Idol back in 2008, has been revealed as the top-earning ex-American Idol contestant, in a recent report by Forbes Magazine. Since she won the show, Underwood has released two full albums, become a Broadway star through In The Heights, started her own clothing line. She has apparently earned over $20 million in the last year alone, which is almost as much the 5 next-most successful Idol alumni combined, who are, according to US Magazine: Chris Daughtry ($6 million), Adam Lambert ($6 million), Fantasia Barrino ($4 million), Jordin Sparks ($3 million), Kelly Clarkson ($2.5 million).
Underwood told Forbes: "American Idol kick-started me in my career.It gave me an amazing fan base money can't buy. Some industry insiders have speculated that Idol makes as much as $1 billion per year, and Adam Kluger, president of brand partnership company the Kluger Agency, told Forbes: ""It's a money-making machine.It's like having the Super Bowl every week." Kluger also warned that Idol winners are not likely to get as big returns as other artists , claiming: "The people that win American Idol are put into 360-degree deals that are much different than a typical deal.They're not getting the same situation an artist like Beyonce would . once you're hot, though, the dynamic changes." The real winner, however, is Idol presenter Ryan Seacrest, who, according to the report, leveraged his hosting gig and endorsements with Comcast and ClearChannel to take home a massive $61 million in the last year.