When the singing competition American Idol first aired in 2002, no one had any idea it would become the pop culture phenomenon it is today. The show has put fantastic, unknown singers into the spotlight and shot them to superstardom. Coming up on its 18th season, American Idol has had a total of 14 main judges over the years. With various perspectives and experiences in the music industry, the judges always have interesting insights on the contestants and their performances.
Here are 10 of the most notable and richest judges who have appeared on the show over the years and their net worths!
10 Paula Abdul - $30 million
Singer and dancer Paula Abdul was a main judge on the show from season one to season eight. She began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers and was quickly noticed by the Jackson family. After doing some choreography for Janet Jackson, she managed to snag a record deal of her own in the 80s.
Alongside her singing career, Paula continued to choreograph for various movies. She also went on to judge other reality shows after Idol such as The X Factor, Live to Dance, and So You Think You Can Dance. Her net worth is $30 million.
9 Randy Jackson - $50 million
Randy Jackson was also one of the original judges alongside Paula, staying on the show from season one to season twelve. Randy was one of the most prominent session musicians in the 1980s, playing bass guitar for multiple bands and recording artists. He has also toured with various singers and produced albums for them.
Artists he's worked with include Madonna, Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, Stevie Nicks, George Michael, and Bruce Springsteen among numerous more. After Idol, he went on to executive produce the reality television show America's Best Dance Crew. His net worth is $50 million.
8 Keith Urban - $75 million
Keith Urban served as one of the main judges on American Idol from season twelve to season fifteen. He was born in New Zealand but mainly started to make a name for himself in the music industry in Australia. After moving to the United States in 1999, his career took off. The country artist has released a total of nine studio albums and has won various awards for his work, including four Grammys.
As for his personal life, he has two children with actress Nicole Kidman. He also has his own guitar line, with some of the proceeds going to charity. His net worth is $75 million.
7 Luke Bryan - $90 million
Country artist Luke Bryan became a main judge in season sixteen for the ABC reboot of the show. He also judged season seventeen and will be a judge on the upcoming season 18. Luke began his career behind the scenes, writing songs for other artists such as Travis Tritt and Billy Currington.
He finally got a record deal of his own in 2007. He has since released six studio albums to massive success. He's won numerous awards and accolades and has sold over seven million albums in total. His net worth is currently $90 million.
6 Steven Tyler - $130 million
Rockstar Steven Tyler was a judge on American Idol from seasons 10 through 12. Steven rose to stardom in the 1970s as the lead singer for the band Aerosmith. After 48 years, the band is still going strong. His unique, high-pitched vocals helped the band score a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Steven was inducted on his own into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
Steven also released an album as a solo artist in 2016. Aside from music and American Idol, Steven launched a line of motorcycles called Dirico Motorcycles. His net worth is $130 million.
5 Lionel Richie - $200 million
Lionel Richie came on as a judge for season 16 and is still a judge to this day. Lionel started his music career in the 1960s with his singing group The Commodores. While he saw a lot of success in the band, he started up a solo career in the 1980s and saw even more success. In fact, Lionel stands as one of the best-selling artists of all time.
Lionel has released ten total studio albums as a solo act and has sold over 90 million copies. He has four Grammy awards, a Golden Globe, and even received the coveted Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. His net worth is $200 million.
4 Mariah Carey - $300 million
Mariah Carey was only a judge for season twelve, but certainly made quite an impact! The singer has broken records with her powerful, five-octave vocal range. She began writing songs in high school, and with her vocal talent, she was quickly noticed and signed.
Her songs did so well that Billboard declared her the country's most successful artist of the 1990s. She is also the female songwriter and producer with the most number-one songs in U.S. chart history. She's released fifteen albums since 1990 and has a net worth of $300 million.
3 Katy Perry- $330 million
Katy Perry came on board for season sixteen of American Idol and is set to still be a judge for the upcoming season 18. Katy first tried her hand at music by releasing a gospel album in 2001. After changing genres (and her name), Katy signed a new record deal in 2007 and by 2008 was a pop star sensation.
Having sold over 18 million albums, she's one of the best-selling artists of all time. Aside from music and American Idol, she does the voice for the character "Smurfette" in the Smurf movie franchise. She's also released multiple fragrances and a shoe line. Her net worth is $330 million.
2 Jennifer Lopez - $400 million
Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez was a judge from season 10 to season 12. The triple-threat started out as a dancer on the show In Living Color but broke out in the acting world after being cast as the lead for the Selena biopic. She then decided to try her hand at music, releasing her first album in 1999.
She has since released eight albums and starred in movies like Anaconda, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan, and her latest hit film Hustlers. She's also an entrepreneur having released multiple fragrances, clothing lines, and more. Her net worth is $400 million.
1 Simon Cowell - $550 million
Simon Cowell, known as the "brutally honest" judge, was on American Idol from season one to season nine. He started a record label in the 1980s that went under before becoming a consultant for the label BMG. After setting up S Records under BMG, Simon began to finally sign some artists that got some traction in the entertainment industry.
He then teamed up with producer Simon Fuller to create the British show Pop Idol, and after the success of the show went on to pitch the American version. After that succeeded too, he formed the company Syco. He's mainly known as a judge still, judging for shows like The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, and America's Got Talent, all of which he created. His current net worth is $550 million.