What's The New 'American Idol' Prize? The 2018 Judges Are Looking For A Superstar

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Without American Idol, the world might not have ever been exposed to the incredible talents of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, or Chris Daughtry, just to name a few of the show's most successful alums. Though the winners of the past few seasons haven't quite lived up to the show's early superstars, they still got to walk home with the top prize. But exactly what is the prize for winning the American Idol reboot?

A spokesperson for ABC told Bustle that the grand prize for the winner of the new American Idol is a guaranteed recording contract with Hollywood Records and a cash prize of $250,000. So the new crop of contestants fighting their way to Hollywood are also fighting for a coveted recording contract. Though this is an extraordinary prize, it's actually somewhat reduced from the prize winners received in Idol's heyday.

According to a 2010 report by The New York Times, $650,000 is the minimum that an American Idol winner could receive, at least in the early seasons of the show, and that's even before factoring in the record contract that is included in the prize. The report states that a typical advance on a record contract would be anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000, but the "Idol contract potentially binds the artist to the show’s producers for up to seven years, roughly twice as long as a typical first contract." Contestants also stood to make additional money through promotional activities after the season wraps. Per The New York Times, contestants could earn money via the American Idol tour, for one.

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But the recording contracts that the show's original contestants signed with 19 Entertainment came with reported conditions attached. The same NYT report reveals that some of the contracts required the contestant to give 19 Entertainment 15 percent of their profits "as a manager's fee." The contract reportedly lasted for three years, but the NYT reported that some stipulations let 19 Entertainment earn a percentage of the artists' profits for a decade.

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But the prize of the show doesn't even factor in the multitude of benefits that could come just from the exposure the show provides. Sometimes the contestants who didn't win the top prize actually walk away with some of the most successful careers.

Jennifer Hudson was famously eliminated early on in Season 3 of the show, and now she has won an Academy Award, starred in a hit Broadway show, and has appeared as a judge on The Voice. Chris Daughtry's infamously shocking Season 5 elimination led to his successful career with his band Daughtry. Katharine McPhee was the Season 5 runner-up, but she went on to star in TV shows like Smash and Scorpion.

Bottom line: Though the winner might take home the guaranteed recording contract, finalists have just as good an opportunity to gain success in their career from the incredible nationwide platform that American Idol provides.

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And this season, the new judges are determined to find a true star. "Literally, we are wasting our time if we are not finding another star," Perry said during the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, per The Hollywood Reporter. "I take it very seriously, sometimes to my detriment." Luke Bryan echoed the sentiment at the same event. "That makes us work harder as a judging panel, because there are a few years where you don't remember those contestants, we don't want it to go that way. We want it to go right back to what it was known for," Bryan said, per The Hollywood Reporter.

So whoever takes home that grand prize this season will have to measure up to the Kelly Clarksons and Carrie Underwoods that came before them. But whether or not they will have the career longevity of Idol's two biggest success stories, they are guaranteed that recording contract and a sweet $250,000. Who could be sad with that?