Source of Wealth:Singers
According to the Radio Times, the 2009 X Factor series generated over £100m in advertising income for the channel, while media mogul Cowell notched up an estimated £7m for himself, catapulting him even higher up the list of Britain's richest people. Worth £165m, Cowell was ranked 11th in the Sunday Times 2010 list of top music millionaires, five places higher than in 2009.
While winning the X Factor top prize of a £1m record contract (that includes the recording and promotion costs) may be the goal of all the wannabes who enter the contest, there is no guarantee of commercial success and a life of luxury. Even those who walk away with the title can quickly end up in both pop and financial obscurity.
However, some of the competition winners do live up to their hype and go on to make a mark and their fortunes from the music business. Here are some of the wealthiest to date who have emerged from the talent show stable of X Factor and earlier reality contests Pop Idol and Popstars: the Rivals plus Cowell's other big cash generator Britain's Got Talent.
1. Girls Aloud - £30m
The five-girl band was created through the talent show Popstars: the Rivals in 2002 and they haven't looked back. The group, who were initially managed by Louis Walsh (now an X Factor judge) enjoyed success from day one with their hit single Sound of the Underground.
By 2008 four of their albums had gone platinum and they boasted a string of top 10 hit singles. The band, which includes X Factor judge Cheryl (Tweedy) Cole, is thought to be worth £30m, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
Cole's own wealth is said to be £10m, boosted partly by her X Factor salary of £1.2m. This could balloon on the back of her solo singing career which she launched on the X Factor last year, plus a rumoured £4.5m settlement from ex-husband Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole whom she divorced earlier this year.
2. Will Young - £12.5m
Will Young took the 2002 Pop Idol title, narrowly beating runner up Gareth Gates, and has enjoyed enduring success ever since.In the past eight years he has won several music awards including two Brits. His first single Anything Is Possible/Evergreen was the biggest selling British single of the 2000s. As well as a string of hit singles and albums and successful singing tours, he has has also branched out into acting, starring with Judi Dench in the movie Mrs Henderson Presents in 2005 and appearing in a Miss Marple tv drama and taking to the stage in the play the Vortex by Noel Coward.
The 31 year old is also set to star in Living TV's six-part drama called Bedlam due to be aired in early 2011. Young owns at least three homes (in Brighton, West London and Cornwall). He once said: 'Money has brought me power and respect but it hasn't brought me a boyfriend.' Not strictly true for the singer who came out as gay after his Pop Idol victory, although he is said to be single at the moment.
3. Leona Lewis - £11m-12.5m
The glamourous pop and R&B songstress who hails from Hackney, east London, rapidly hit the big time when she took the third X Factor crown in 2006.
Her debut single A Moment Like This was reported to have been downloaded 50,000 times in 30 minutes and made number one in the hit parade in time for Christmas. Soon afterwards she signed a £5 million record deal in the US and has had several number one singles in many countries, including a breakthrough number one in the US. In 2010 she went on tour for the first time as a showcase for her two albums.
Lewis, age 25, who is vegetarian and has a strong ethical stance (she turned down a £1m deal to open the Harrod's sale because the store sells furs) has also fronted advertising campaigns such for Cotton Incorporated, America's Cotton Producers and Importers industry body and has her own 'ethical' perfume.
She also published her memoirs Dreams last year. The Sunday Times puts her wealth at £10m while Heat magazine recently calculated it at nearer £12.5m, putting her in sixth place in its list of wealthy celebrities under 30.
4. Gareth Gates - £6.5m
Gates was the runner-up to Will Young in the first Pop Idol series in 2002.
He nevertheless won a £750,000 contract to promote Pepsi soon afterwards, and after a slow start on the music front (his confidence was affected by a life-long stammer) ended up selling 3.5 million records in the UK.
His version of Unchained Melody was the second best selling single of the 2000s. More recently he moved into musicals, last year playing the title role in the West End production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and this year appearing as Marius in the International 25th Anniversary World Tour of Les Miserables (he is also on the cast recording). The 26 year old underwent therapy for his stammer and is now also a qualified course instructor.
Gates, who lives in a £1m house in Chiswick with his dancer wife Suzanne Mole and 18 month old daughter Missy, has topped up his income from other sources, taking part in shows such as ITV's Dancing on Ice contest in 2008 and appearing in panto.
5. Alexandra Burke - £5m
As 2008's X Factor winner Burke went on to have the Christmas number one that year with a cover version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
After making her mark in the UK, she soon signed a £3m US record deal (thanks in part to support from super diva Beyonce). Her first album, Overcome was released in October 2009 and entered the UK chart at number one.
She was soon in demand for advertising contracts and was paid a six figure sum to be the face of Dolce & Gabbana. Burke, 22, has just launched a new single The Silence and is currently appearing in Nintendo's Christmas television ad campaign and also landed a lucrative deal to promote Sure deodorant. For 2011 Burke is planning a tour of Asia and a big push in the US.
6.Susan Boyle - £4.5m
Susan Boyle, runner up in 2009's Britain's Got Talent to dance troupe Diversity, has enjoyed spectacular success over the last years, since she first wowed the audience, judges and millions of YouTube surfers around the world with her operatic rendition of the I Dreamed a Dream song from Les Miserables.
She may have come second but her earnings are first rate. Her debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, which was released on the Britain's Got Talent judge Simon Cowell's record label Syco (now part of Sony) sold a record eight million albums globally and is the fastest-selling debut album of all time and helped Boyle to reported earnings of around £4.5m in her first year as a professional.
This is likely to spiral as her new album The Gift, launched in November debuted at number one in the UK album charts selling 102,000 copies in its first week. Subo was nominated for the Best Pop Vocal Album category of 2011's Grammy's - up against none other than Lady Gaga. She also brought out her memoirs which are likely to boost her coffers further.
Boyle's busy work schedule suggests that her income may quadruple in this year to a staggering £18.5m.
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