Carrie Underwood claims the No. 2 spot on Forbes' list of Top-Earning American Idols for 2012, boosted by her platinum-selling Blown Away disc. Despite not touring during the scoring period (May 2011 through May 2012), Underwood raked in an impressive $5 million, tied with rocker Chris Daughtry. Underwood's latest album has moved 1.3 million copies and spurred two No. 1 singles, earning the singer an unmatched chain of Country chart-toppers (15 to-date).
Original Idol winner and pop diva Kelly Clarkson rises to the No. 1 spot with a whopping $8 million. In the third slot, newcomer Scotty McCreery boasts $4 million, while Jennifer Hudson earned $3 million and Jordin Sparks landed $2 million. Rounding out the list are Adam Lambert ($1.5 million), Katharine McPhee and Kellie Pickler ($1.1 million each) and David Archuleta and David Cook ($1 million each). The numbers, compiled from Pollstar, RIAA and others, are based on estimated income, before subtracting taxes, 19 Entertainment's cut and any additional fees for agents, lawyers and managers.
By calculations, more recent contestants are projected to turn over half their income to the Idol machine, even before divvying out the remainder to their team. “It’s depressing when you look at it, but I’m still making a good amount,” says McCreery. “I’m not in any way complaining … I’m doing a lot better than I was a few summers ago, living off the coin jar in my truck.”
Underwood's year is off to a remarkable start, especially with her current Country single "Two Black Cadillacs" sitting comfortably in the Top 10 on Mediabase. Also, the Okie is expected to continue her critically acclaimed Blown Away Tour, which includes a handful of shows in the UK and Ireland, early next month and will star as the iconic Maria Von Trapp in NBC's live broadcast of The Sound of Music later this year.