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Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert Among Highest-Paid American Idols

USMagazine, Friday, July 22, 2011, 9:00am (PDT)

Reality TV sure is a real money maker!

Forbes magazine has released a list of the highest-paid American Idol alumni, with Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert topping this year's chart. The magazine calculated the singers' earnings on a pre-tax basis, before subtracting agent and manager fees.

PHOTOS: Where are your favorite Idol stars today?

"[American Idol is] a money-making machine," Adam Kluger, the president of brand partnership company the Kluger Agency told Forbes. "It's like having the Super Bowl every week."

Earning an estimated $20 million, Underwood, 28, has five Grammy Awards to her name, and in 2010, made her feature film debut in Soul Surfer. Having recently surpassed Kelly Clarkson as the best-selling Idol of all time, Underwood's most recent disc, Play On, has sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S. since its 2009 release. (Clarkson ranked fifth on the current Forbes list, with estimated earnings of $2.5 million.)

VIDEO: Watch Carrie Underwood's sitcom debut

Lambert, 29, makes his first appearance on the Forbes list for his $6 million payday between May 2010 and May 2011. The season 8 runner-up -- who tied for second place with Chris Daughtry -- played 116 concerts worldwide in the last 12 months, Forbes reports.

Though Lambert and Daughtry, 31, had strong showings, the list was largely dominated by Idol's female contingent. Oscar winner and current Weight Watchers spokeswoman Jennifer Hudson landed in sixth place with $2 million, but was bested by season 3 runner-up Fantasia Barino and season 6 champ Jordin Sparks.

VIDEO: Us Weekly goes behind the scenes at the season 10 Idol finale

The full Forbes list of highest-paid American Idols is as follows:

1. Carrie Underwood: $20 million2. Chris Daughtry: $6 million (tie), Adam Lambert: $6 million (tie)3. Fantasia Barrino: $4 million4. Jordin Sparks: $3 million5. Kelly Clarkson: $2.5 million6. Jennifer Hudson: $2 million7. Kellie Pickler: $1.8 million8. Clay Aiken: $1.5 million9. Katharine McPhee: $1 million (tie), David Archuleta: $1 million (tie), David Cook: $1 million (tie)

By Allison Corneau for Us Weekly. For more Channel Surfing, click here.

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