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Kris Allen Is Fine on Money, Thanks

American Idol winners are dropped from their record labels with such hilarious regularity these days that it's only natural you'd worry about their financial well-being. Don't, though! According to documents recently made public (under laws requiring the approval of a court for entertainment deals with minors), the minimum an Idol winner can earn is $650,000, with performance fees, album advances, and merchandising royalties factored in. And according to the Times' sources, no winner — not even Taylor Hicks, presumably! — has ever failed to make at least $1 million.

Last year's winner, Kris Allen, was paid an advance for his album of $350,000 and an additional $200,000 to tell a camera, "I'm going to Disney World" and the day-long taping of a segment for use at the park's new attraction, the American Idol Experience. And even losers can do okay — second-place finisher Adam Lambert got a $300,000 album advance, $75,000 for merchandising royalties, and $50,000 from Disney for his appearance.

"I'm shocked that they give them that much money," says an agent for non-Idol-affiliated artists the Times spoke with who is probably more used to having his singers starve to death. The agent says a more reasonable recording deal would pay a measly advance of $100,000 or $150,000.

Anyway, definitely don't worry about 2006 winner Taylor Hicks just because he's currently appearing in a traveling production of Grease. It's not because he needs the money.

‘Idol’ Winners: Not Just Fame but Big Bucks [NYT]

Photo: Getty Images