New York: Singer Carrie Underwood, who won season four of American Idol in 2008, has been declared the top-earning ex-American Idol contestant by Forbes.
Since she won the show, the 28-year-old has released two full albums, become a Broadway star through `In The Heights` and started her own clothing line.
She has apparently earned over USD 20 million in the last year alone, which is almost as much the 5 next-most successful Idol alumni combined, who are, Chris Daughtry (USD 6 million), Adam Lambert (USD 6 million), Fantasia Barrino (USD 4 million), Jordin Sparks (USD 3 million) and Kelly Clarkson (USD 2.5 million).
"American Idol kick-started me in my career. It gave me an amazing fan base money can`t buy," Underwood said.
Some industry insiders have speculated that Idol makes as much as USD 1 billion per year.
"It`s a money-making machine. It`s like having the Super Bowl every week. 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," said Adam Kluger, president of brand partnership company the Kluger Agency.
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 USD 61 million the last year.