By Kyle Anderson
May 20, 2011 at 05:14 PM EDT
Monty Brinton/CBS
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While this season’s final contestents, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, battle it out for the metaphorical championship belt on American Idol, marking the first time in the history of the show that two country-based artists will be squaring off in the finals.

That could prove to be a boon for whoever walks away the victor, because season four winner Carrie Underwood just became the top-earning contestant in the history of Idol.

She just passed first season winner Kelly Clarkson on Billboard magazine’s tally, selling over 12 million albums and 18 million digital tracks since she picked up the duke in 2005. Clarkson slips to number two on the list, having sold 10 million albums and nearly 16 million downloads.

Billboard also notes that Underwood’s tour revenues are nearly double those of Clarkson’s, though Kelly hasn’t been on the road nearly as much as Carrie.

The rest of the top of the list is rounded out by the likes of Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, David Cook and Kellie Pickler. Interestingly, most of the top-earning Idol alumni have mined distinct musical niches, very few of them straight-ahead pop. And though the accepted logic is that many of the runners-up have performed better than the winners on the show, more than half of that top 10 finished in the number one position.

Of course, Clarkson has the chance to return to the top position when she releases her fifth album, which is expected to drop some time later this year. Readers, what do you think—will she reign once again, or will Carrie keep the crown?


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