There is success beyond American Idol.
Alumni of the reality television singing competition series, which ran on FOX for 15 seasons from 2002 to 2016 before moving to ABC in 2018, have gone on to great career heights since being introduced to the American public through the hit show.
Among the winners and former contestants are Academy Award winners, Grammy Award winners, Broadway stars, Las Vegas residency performers, TV hosts, Dancing With the Stars winners and former political candidates.
Country crooner Carrie Underwood catapulted into superstardom after winning Season 4 of American Idol and has become one of the biggest country music stars in the world.
Kelly Clarkson is now a judge on NBC's singing competition, The Voice, and has reached No. 1 on the charts multiple times, after her Season 1 win in 2002.
But what about some of the singers who did not win the popular competition series?
Chris Daughtry placed fourth on Season 5 of American Idol and is a successful rock musician as the frontman of his band, Daughtry. He has even dabbled in acting, starring as Judas in FOX's live broadcast of The Passion, and he voiced Counselor Olaf in the animated film Trollz.
It's safe to say that, for some, being an American Idol contestant is only the beginning. So which American Idol alumni is the most successful of them all?
Scroll through our list below to see which Idol alum takes the top spot.
The beautiful songstress finished in fourth place on the first season of American Idol in 2002. Since then, she has appeared on Broadway in Bombay Dreams (2004-2005), Rent (2007-2008), and the Tony-winning 2018 revival of Once On This Island.
The singer placed third on Season 10 of Idol and followed up her stint on the reality series with a 2012 release of her debut album, "Listen Up!" She has performed at Lollapalooza, toured with Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, and will release her fourth studio album, “Lo-Fi Soul,” in 2019.
The runner-up of the third season of American Idol has pivoted to a career in musical theater, starring in multiple Broadway shows and national tours. Soap opera fans may also recognize her for her 2011-2012 arc as Angelina Veneziano on CBS' The Young and the Restless. The stunning singer is married to a fellow Idol alum, Season 5 finalist Ace Young.
The formerly long-haired rocker was the runner-up who lost to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol. He has released three albums since leaving Idol and was the lead singer of Blood, Sweat & Tears from 2013 to 2018.
After placing third on Season 2 of Idol, behind winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken, Kimberly released three studio albums and one extended play. She has made numerous television appearances, including a 2007 stint on Celebrity Fit Club.
The country singer and U.S. Marine placed fourth on Idol's second season. He has continued his music career while completing his Marine Corps service. He's released multiple albums and has had multiple songs chart on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks.
She finished ninth on Season 5 of Idol, but that was just the beginning for this gospel and contemporary Christian songstress. Mandisa earned a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album in 2014 and has multiple albums under her belt. She is currently on tour.
Idol's Season 5 winner has topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was named Hottest Bachelor by People magazine in 2006, and is the first Idol victor with a long-term residency at a Las Vegas casino. He has appeared on Broadway, continues to release new music and hosts a show called State Plate on the INSP channel.
The Season 2 winner recently reunited with his runner-up, Clay Aiken, for a 2018 Broadway production Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show. Studdard has released seven studio albums and has enjoyed much success as a gospel singer.
The Season 3 champion is a Grammy winner and a Broadway alum. The legendary Patti LaBelle has even dubbed her "baby Patti LaBelle," which is high praise from Fantasia's idol. Fans most recently saw Fantasia deliver a knockout performance while paying tribute to the late Aretha Franklin at the 2019 Grammy Awards with fellow songstresses Andra Day and Yolanda Adams.
The Season 11 winner is now releasing music again after settling a lawsuit he filed against the show's management company. Phillips' third studio album, Collateral, was released in 2018, and the singer hit the road to tour and promote his new music. You may have also seen him appearing in a 2018 episode of Hawaii Five-0, playing a diamond smuggler.
The winner of American Idol's eighth season is no stranger to the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He earned a BMI Pop Music Award for his song, "Live Like We're Dying." In addition to his musical career, he has continued his philanthropic efforts since winning the reality singing competition.
The country singer's first studio album was certified platinum in the United States, and that's not the only success this Season 10 winner has seen since his Idol days. He has been recognized with trophies at the Academy of Country Music Awards, CMT Music Awards and American Country Awards. His 2018 music video for his song, "This Is It," featuring adorable footage from his wedding day, is a must-watch for fans.
After winning Season 7 of the reality series, Cook's first post-Idol album was certified platinum by the RIAA. He had a busy 2018—releasing a new EP, Chromance, going on an acoustic tour, and making his Broadway debut in Kinky Boots.
The Season 7 runner-up has released six studio albums and racked up six Teen Choice Awards. Archuleta's next focus is a Spring 2019 tour in the U.S.
The cute crooner placed third on American Idol Season 5. His biggest single, "Wait for You," has major '90s R&B vibes. Yamin has multiple albums, including two Christmas collections. He has also worked as an advocate for those suffering from diabetes.
The sixth place finisher on Season 5 has had success as a country artist but that's not all. Pickler, alongside her pro dance partner Derek Hough, won the 16th season of Dancing With the Stars. Since 2017, she and TV personality Ben Aaron have co-hosted the daytime TV talk show Pickler & Ben.
Coming in second place on the second season of Idol launched Aiken into fame. He has sold 5 million albums in the United States, gone on numerous tours to support his music, has co-written a bestselling memoir, appeared on Broadway, and he ran for Congress in 2014.
Winning Season 6 when she was 17 years old sparked Sparks career in the entertainment industry. Like many other Idol alumni, she has appeared on Broadway, released several albums and dabbled in acting. In May 2018, she welcomed her first child with husband, Dana Isaiah. Freeform has announced that Sparks will star in their forthcoming new comedy series Besties.
The gorgeous performer placed second on Season 5 of Idol. In addition to her impressive record sales, McPhee has an established career as an actress. She was a lead on NBC's Smash and CBS' Scorpion. She's currently performing in the musical Waitress in London and is engaged to famed record producer David Foster.
He may have ended up in fourth place on the show’s fifth season, but this rock musician has been on the upward trajectory ever since with his band, Daughtry. Behind Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, he's the third most-successful former contestant when it comes to record sales. The rocker is reportedly worth $10 million, and his band has sold more than 9 million albums worldwide.
The glam rocker opened up the 2019 Academy Awards, performing with the legendary rock band Queen, which he has been collaborating with since 2011. The Grammy nominee and LGBTQ advocate has come a long way since his second place finish on Season 8 of Idol. He is worth an estimated $20 million and has sold more than three million albums worldwide.
Fans were shocked when the talented singer placed seventh on Season 3 of Idol, but she's No. 3 on our list because of everything she's done since. She has an Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls, has appeared multiple times on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, has served as a coach on The Voice and will star as Grizabella in the upcoming film adaptation of the musical Cats. She is worth an estimated $20 million and has released three albums.
After placing first on the inaugural season of the reality competition series, Clarkson has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and is currently serving as a judge on NBC’s The Voice for her third consecutive season. Her net worth is estimated at $28 million. Only one Idol alum has surpassed her both in album sales and reported net worth...
Named country music's reigning queen by Billboard, Underwood was launched into super stardom after her first-place finish on Season 4 of American Idol. The seven-time Grammy Award winner has sold more than 64 million records worldwide and is reportedly worth $85 million. She is the most successful Idol alum of all time, according to Forbes. She released her most recent album in 2018, and she and her husband, Mike Fisher, welcomed Baby No. 2 in January 2019.