When Phillip Phillips was named the 2012 American Idol winner, it was the fifth time in a row that a guy had taken the crown. To be really specific, it was the fifth time in a row that a cute white guy who plays guitar took the crown (WGWG, anyone?). Aside from making us wonder if a girl will ever win American Idol again, we started wondering whether male winners are more successful than their female counterparts. Let's look at the numbers and see, shall we?
Kelly Clarkson: The original American Idol winner took home the crown in Season 1. Her first album, Thankful, has sold 2.8 million copies in the United States. Her sophomore effort, Breakaway, topped 6 million. Since then, Kelly has sold more than 23 million albums worldwide, along with 36 million singles. In 2013, Kelly Clarkson earned $8 million, according to Forbes.
Ruben Studdard: The Season 2 champ’s 2003 debut, Soulful, moved 1.8 million copies in the U.S., but his second album, 2004’s I Need An Angel, sold less than 500,000, and his sales since then have been in a steady decline. In 2012, he failed to even make the top 10 of American Idol alumni earners.
Fantasia: Free Yourself, the first post-Idol album by the Season 3 winner, sold 1.8 million copies. Two years later, her follow-up (the eponymous Fantasia) topped out at around 530,000 albums sold. She did not make the top 10 American Idol alumni earners list last year.
Carrie Underwood: The Season 4 winner and country music darling’s first album, Some Hearts, sold more than 7 million copies in the United States. Carrie’s second album moved 3.3 million, while her third sold 2.1 million. Last year, she earned a cool $5 million.
Taylor Hicks: Honestly, did anyone ever really expect Taylor Hicks to become an internation superstar? This Season 5 American Idol winner may have three studio albums, but his best claim to fame is actually being named by People magazine as the Hottest Bachelor of 2006. Last year, he wasn't even on Forbes' radar.
Jordin Sparks: Season 6 winner Jordin sold slightly more than a million copies of her self-titled debut. Her sing "No Air" became the highest-selling single by any contestant in history (at the time). Her second album, Battlefield, has sold more than 600,000 units. Jordin faded out a bit for a while, but she is back in the spotlight the past couple of years. In 2012, she pocketed a respectable $2 million.
David Cook: In Season 7, our first WGWG took home the crown. His 2008 major-label debut, David Cook, sold 1.3 million copies. His second album, however, 2011’s This Loud Morning, sold very badly, and he lost his record deal with RCA. However, David kept struggling on and last year he managed to acquire a healthy $1 million.
Kris Allen: Season 8 American Idol winner Kris Allen’s first post-Idol release, titled Kris Allen, has sold approximately 331,000 copies since its release in 2009. Kris’s follow-up, Thank You Camellia, was released on May 22, 2012. He did not manage to earn enough in 2012 to land a spot on Forbes' list.
Lee DeWyze: The Season 9 champ’s major-label debut, Live it Up, sold around 149,000 copies. He was dropped from RCA and ended up going independent. So far, he is way out of the running for being a top American Idol winner in earnings.
Scotty McCreery: This Season 10 winner has been doing quite well on the country scene, going platinum with his debut studio album, Clear as Day. In 2012, he opened for Brad Paisley and The Band Perry, raking in a hefty $4 million last year.
Phillip Phillips: Although he wasn't on Forbes' list for 2012, we expect this Season 11 winner will make a showing in the top earners for 2013. His single "Home" has reached nearly every single on the planet and his debut studio album ranked highly on the Billboard charts.
In conclusion! There are a ton of factors to consider beyond gender. The state of the music industry is always changing, different genres are more accepting of reality show winners, and of course, there’s always the chance that the public is getting burned out on Idol contestants. That being said, although the winners of the show are mostly men, the ladies — led by Carrie and Kelly — are the ones winning on the charts and when it comes to cash. What will this mean for the next American Idol winner? We'll just have to wait and see!