Being an American Idol ain't a bad gig, if you can get it... and it's a job that continues paying off for many of its winners, sometimes for years after they've achieved the title.
Season 10 champ Scotty McCreery can attest to this: Along with the fame and recognition, he made Forbes' list of top-earning Idols in 2013, pocketing a cool $3 million last year. McCreery put his 2011 victory right to work, releasing a debut album later that very year, which he followed up with a 2012 trek opening for Brad Paisley and then a sophomore set in 2013 — so it's not much of a surprise that the disciplined singer made himself a nice salary.
What may be a bit surprising, however, is exactly how much McCreery took home from his earnings, after paying his agents, managers, attorneys, and the tax man.
All in all, the country star says he only pocketed about a fifth of his annual revenue. That works out to only $600,000.
“It’s depressing when you look at it," the 20-year-old admitted to Forbes. "But I’m still making a good amount. 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.”
Indeed, McCreery isn't in any danger of needing to dip back into that jar. His latest album, "See You Tonight," debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's country album chart (as well as No. 6 on the general album sales chart), and he's currently in the midst of his first headlining tour. Additionally, he's covering his bases in case music doesn't work out, enjoying his studies as a college sophomore at North Carolina State University.
He also seems to have a level-headed attitude toward money in general; rare for someone of his age and career persuasion. “My parents and everybody else around me keeps telling me to save,” he says. “It’s all about what you keep, not what you make.”
McCreery was joined on the Forbes top-earning Idols list by yet another country star, which we're sure you'll be able to guess.
It's Carrie Underwood, of course — who took the very top spot on the high-grossing list. While Underwood earned 10 times what McCreery made last year ($31 million before taxes), the singer has a remarkably similar pragmatism regarding her riches.
Underwood doesn't have to worry about money — probably ever again in her entire life — but she still keeps her feet firmly on the ground. The star once told Rachel Ray that she still clips coupons for the grocery store, and joked in a 2007 interview about “battling” her American Idol stylist over expensive looks, telling him: “My mama raised me right. I can’t spend $400 on a pair of jeans!”
Indeed, both McCreery and Underwood are refreshing ambassadors for the simple things in life. Despite their fame and fat wallets, they still enjoy the same ordinary treats they loved pre-fame.
McCreery admitted to Ram Country in November that his favorite guilty pleasure is "Hershey's Cookies N' Cream bars," while Underwood claims that her favorite place to dine out with her hockey-star husband Mike Fisher is nothing fancier than... Subway!
Forbes' Top-Earning American Idols 2013:
1) Carrie Underwood ($31 million)
2) Kelly Clarkson ($7 million)
3) (Tie) Phillip Phillips/Adam Lambert ($5 million each)
4) Daughtry ($4 million)
5) Scotty McCreery ($3 million)
6) Taylor Hicks ($2.5 million)
7) (Tie) Fantasia Barrino/Kellie Pickler ($1.5 million each)
8) (Tie) Katharine McPhee/Jennifer Hudson ($1 million each)