Have you ever wondered how much American Idol judges make? I mean, how worthwhile is it really to spend your time on the set of American Idol? If you’re one of the judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, or Lionel Richie, I think you’d agree it’s totally worth it. And don’t discount Ryan Seacrest. That guy puts in the time and makes a dime!

Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Undewood attend the 2018 Radio Disney Music Awards

Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood attend the 2018 Radio Disney Music Awards

American Idol Success

Host Ryan Seacrest (L) and Brian Dunkleman speak onstage during FOX's "American Idol" Finale For The Farewell Season

American Idol has been entertaining audiences for 22 seasons. Through those years, it has brought us some of the most famous entertainers on the planet! From Kelly Clarkson (Season 1 winner) to Carrie Underwood (Season 4 winner) to Chayce Beckham (Season 19 winner) there’s no denying the scope of talent that has made its way from the Idol stage to the world stage. And do not forget about Jennifer Hudson who came in seventh of Season 3, losing to Fantasia Barrino. Both of these talented women have made their way to Broadway and the big screen in various projects.

Why do we get sucked into this show?! Several reasons:

American Idol winner Carrie Underwood performs with the finalists onstage at the American Idol Finale: Results Show held at the Kodak Theatre on May 25, 2005

  • The drama. American Idol is a highly competitive show. With competition comes drama, like when contestants are eliminated or when they receive nasty criticism from the judges. Viewers either love it or love to hate it.
  • The contestants. People enjoy watching the contestants on American Idol grow and develop their talents. Many contestants start as shy or nervous (remember Carrie Underwood?), but they transform into confident and talented performers throughout the show.
  • The judges. America loves to watch the judges give their honest feedback to the contestants, albeit sometimes controversial. It’s fun to compare your thoughts to theirs.
  • The music. It’s fun to hear your favorite song performed by another artist! American Idol also encourages some contestants to perform their original music, giving the audience a chance to hear something new and fresh.
  • The sense of community. Do you watch Idol with your friends or family? You’re not alone. The show is a great way to bond with loved ones and is a fun way to compete with each other to see who can pick the best contestants.

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson embraces Idol contestants at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how much American Idol judges make, keep in mind that you have to be “somebody” before you’re even asked to be a judge on the show. When it comes to the salaries American Idol judges make, do you think experience and longevity play a role in how much the judges get paid? Not necessarily. Take a look at the current American Idol judges below. (Don’t forget about host Ryan Seacrest!) And read what each is worth compared to what they make on the show. You will be surprised.

How much do American Idol judges make?

  • Lionel Richie

    Lionel Richie attends the taping of ABC's "American Idol"

    Lionel Richie has been going strong since the 1970s! He emerged onto the music scene as the lead singer of the Motown group The Commodores. In the 80s Lionel became one of the most prolific ballad singers making him one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time.

    Lionel has an estimated net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The Grammy winner is earning a salary of around $10 million from American Idol, per multiple outlets.

    RELATED: Luke Bryan Pays Tribute To His Friend Lionel Richie

  • Luke Bryan

    Luke Bryan performs at Bridgestone Arena on August 12, 2023

    Does he need to add to his plate? Probably not. Luke is worth less than Lionel Richie but brings in a higher salary on American Idol. The five-time Entertainer of the Year winner is worth about $160 million according to Celebrity Net Worth. And he brings in $12 million on Idol, according to Forbes.

    RELATED: Luke Bryan: ‘I’m Proud Of My Climb To Get Here’

  • Katy Perry

     Katy Perry attends The 56th Annual CMA Awards

    Did you know Katy Perry started her music career as gospel singer Katy Hudson? Katherine Elizabeth Hudson decided to take her mother’s maiden name as her last name Perry when she entered the secular music world and the rest is history.

    Katy doesn’t just pull in more money than her counterparts on American Idol, she’s one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world and has been for over a decade. Katy is worth $330 million and brings in a whopping $25 million on Idol, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

    RELATED: Top Five Country Stars From TV Talent Shows

  • Ryan Seacrest

    Ryan Seacrest attends the Times Square New Year's Eve 2024 Celebration

    Now, let’s talk about the guy who’s been at the helm of American Idol since its inception many, many years ago. According to Hollywood Reporter, Seacrest made 5 million dollars in his first season of Idol. A couple of contracts later he was up to $12 million per season, then $15 million per season, and then Fox called it quits. When ABC brought back the American Idol reboot they reportedly offered him just $5 million for the first season, but he negotiated $10 million. The Wall Street Journal puts his current salary at $12 million per season.

    But wait, there’s more … Celebrity Net Worth puts Seacrest’s worth at $450 million!!!!!

    RELATED: 22 Carrie Underwood Songs That Shine Like Rhinestones