The 6 Most Successful ‘American Idol’ Contestants

Ever since it launched in 2002, American Idol has been a television show where some of the world’s best and brightest singers go to be discovered. In the two decades since the program has been doing just that: introducing big names of the future to audiences in the present.

Videos by American Songwriter

To wit, here are half a dozen of the show’s most successful stars. Today, they’ve gone on to host talk shows, perform to tens of thousands, garner billions of streams and more. Yes, these artists are the reason we watch the show each year. These are the six most successful American Idol contestants.

1. Kelly Clarkson

She’s a coach on The Voice. She hosts her own daytime talk show. She’s a staple in Las Vegas with her popular residency. She’s a multi-time Grammy Award winner. And she just released a new album, Chemistry. Truly, there isn’t anything this professional artist can’t do. She even won the first-ever season of American Idol in 2002. Oh, and she also boasts an estimated net worth of $45 million.

2. Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson became the youngest woman and only the second Black artist to earn herself a coveted EGOT—meaning, she’s received at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also the host of her own daytime television talk show, a movie star and one of the world’s best singers (along with Clarkson). A finalist in the third season of the show, Hudson is also now worth an estimated $30 million.

3. Carrie Underwood

Winner of the fourth season of the show, Carrie Underwood is one of the biggest stars in country music today. She’s won eight Grammy Awards and sold upwards of 85 million albums worldwide. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a New York Times best-selling fitness book. Oh, and she’s worth an estimated $140 million dollars.

4. Adam Lambert

When you’re the fill-in choice for the late Freddie Mercury in the band Queen, you automatically make this list. But Adam Lambert is even more than that. With a giant voice, Lambert has sold millions of albums worldwide and he’s been a beacon for LGBTQ+ rights. The runner-up on the show’s eighth season, Lambert is doing just fine today, worth an estimated $45 million.

5. Jordin Sparks

The winner of the show’s sixth season, the youngest winner ever at just 17, Jordin Sparks has become a success on record and on the Broadway stage, performing as Nina Rosario in the Lin-Manuel Miranda work, In The Heights. The Grammy-nominee and chart-topping, multi-million-streamed artist today is also worth an estimated $8 million.

6. Chris Daughtry

The hard-rocking singer Chris Daughtry placed fourth on the fifth season of American Idol. Since then, he’s garnered hundreds of millions of streams and a big audience. He is also only behind Clarkson and Underwood in terms of music sales from Idol alumni. Daughtry, who is also worth an estimated $8 million, has worked with other big names like Slash, Carlos Santana and Vince Gill to date.

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Willie Nelson

5 Songs You Didn’t Know Willie Nelson Wrote for Other Artists