“American Idol”: What Does the Winner Win?

Why ‘American Idol’ Fans Think Season 19 is ‘Rigged’


ABC/Eric McCandless

The finale of “American Idol” is finally here, but when the winner is crowned tonight, what do they actually win?

According to Newsweek, the winner will take home a record deal with Hollywood Records in addition to a cash prize.

But how much do they actually make? Has that amount always stayed the same?

Here’s what you need to know:


How Much Money Do They Win?

According to Newsweek, an estimate of what the “Idol” winner takes home was leaked to the press two years ago.

The Blast obtained a copy of Madison VanDanberg’s contract, and it showed that while the winners of the show take home $250,000, they “will have to cover a lot of the costs of producing their own music.”

The outlet wrote, “According to the official contract signed by 17-year-old Madison VanDenburg and other ‘Idol’ finalists, each finalist records three original tracks during the competition, which can be used freely as they wish. The show will then sign the winner (and possibly the runner-up) to Hollywood Records. They will get paid $125k to start and another $125k when they turn in their first album. The runner-up could be paid $87,500 plus another $87k when they finish.”

The Blast continued, “The winner will be paid $1,000 a week during recording and $1,000 per master recording turned in. The winner gets a 15% royalty rate for their first three albums. Once the contract is commenced, the ‘American Idol’ winner has four months to hand over the finished album. A budget of $300,000 will be approved for the recording, but it counts as an advance.”

The Blast also stated that the first nine season winners took home “at least $1 million”, but that amount changed when the show was “revamped.”

In 2010, The New York Times reported that Kris Allen, the winner from the year prior, earned $650,000 from “American Idol”– a figure that was based on numbers from contracts the outlet had obtained.

At that time, the Times revealed that before the show was revamped, “… finalists who reach the Top 5… are likely to earn close to $100,000 from the show and three to four times that if the ‘Idol’ producers sign them to a record deal.”


‘American Idol’ Stars Today

To date, stars like Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, and Fantasia have used their momentum from “American Idol” to establish incredibly successful careers, and it’s just a matter of time to see who will be crowned the Season 19 winner.

Hollywood Records– the label the winner, and potentially the runner-up, will sign with– is responsible for many stars’ careers, from Olivia Holt and Sofia Carson to Jordan Fisher, Queen, Ocean Park Standoff, and Bea Miller.

According to a recent article in The Things, after Just Sam won the 18th season of “American Idol”, the artist’s net worth “increased quickly.”

The outlet wrote, per Starsgab, that the 21-year-old “… went from being an average girl to a young lady that carried a significant title… and a $1 million net worth.”

Tonight, the winner of “American Idol” will be crowned when the show airs at 5 p.m. Pacific time, 8 p.m. Eastern time.