The 22nd season of American Idol will finally premiere on Sunday, Feb. 18 on ABC. The competition will return with a new set of contestants and familiar faces, including judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. However, a question that many fans ask is how much does the winner earn? Here’s what we know about it.

Since 2022, many great stars have come out of ‘American Idol,’ even some successful losers. Among the most famous alums, there are Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry and many more. However, with more than 20 years on air, the show and the industry have changed, and so, the compensation for the participants.

According to Distractify, when Underwood won Season 4 in 2005, she received a $1 million recording contract, as well as the use of a private jet and a car. Sadly for the new contestants hoping to made it on Season 22 (for which you can already check out our guide to the American Idol schedule), the reported prize money is less than that but it is still a sweet deal.

What does the winner of ‘American Idol’ get?

According to a report from Distractify, citing sources such as Taste of Country, the winner of American Idol receives a prize money of $250,000 and a deal with Hollywood Records/19 Recordings.

Per the same source, the record label gives the winners $1,000 each week for living costs, as well as another $1,000 for every finished and turned-in recording. However, singers are expected to return the investment when they make the album, also paying back 50% of the costs of promotion too.

Another contestant, Madison VanDenburg, who finished third in Season 17, made her contract public. According to The Blast, the runner-up could get $87,500 first and another $87,000 later when they finish everything.

On the other hand, the same report, citing Newsweek, said that Noah Thompson (who won in 2022), only got $125,000 at first after signing the deal. He got the rest of the money after finishing a whole album in four months.

Winning Idol doesn’t secure success

In 2023, Samantha “Just Sam” Diaz, who won Idol in 2020, revealed that she had to return to performing on the subway because she needed the money. In a series of posts, the singer said that she left the label before releasing an album and owed them money.

“I’m recording all the time or making music all the time, writing every day, doing what I have to do to survive,” she explained at the time, according to Just Jared. She explained that she “just cannot afford to release music, because mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth. Not broke, broke – like I’m living. I have my own place.”

American Idol starts on Sunday, Feb. 18 on ABC (8 pm ET).