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Carrie Underwood tops Forbes list of highest-paid 'American Idol' contestants

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July

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Say what you want about American Idol: It's sure made Carrie Underwood rich. She leads a Forbes list of highest-earning Idol alums, raking in $20 million over the past year. Look what you missed out on, Sanjaya Malakar.

Thanks to her successful tour and more, Carrie far outshines the next-highest earners on the list, Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry, who share second with $6 million (as measured between May 2010 and May 2011). And don't think you have to win the show to make big bucks. Tampa Bay resident Jennifer Hudson came in seventh during her season, but pulled in $2 million, which is good for lucky No. 7 on this list.

Fantasia Barrino came in fourth with $4 million, followed by Jordin Sparks with $3 million. Kelly Clarkson had a down year, ranking sixth with $2.5 million, but that's after last year's $11.7 million, so she needs a break. Rounding our eight, nine and 10 are Kellie Pickler with $1.8 million; Clay Aiken, who made $1.5 million with a book and a role in Spamalot; and Katharine McPhee and David Archuleta, who both came in at $1 million. Take that, David Cook.

Of course, Forbes notes that Idol host Ryan Seacrest seems to be the big winner on that show. Last year he cleared $61 million from deals with Clear Channel and Comcast -- more than the top 10 contestants combined. So go ahead and make fun of him. He can take it.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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[Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 2:56pm]

    

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