1. Headline
  1. Headline
IMAGE: Scotty McCreery
Matt Sayles  /  AP
Scotty McCreery can thank a fourth judge for clearing his path to becoming the latest "American Idol" — one who didn't have to critique his singing.
By
updated 5/26/2011 1:55:22 PM ET 2011-05-26T17:55:22

Scotty McCreery can thank a fourth judge for clearing his path to becoming the latest "American Idol" — one who didn't have to critique his singing.

A Los Angeles judge approved a minor's contract establishing financial protections for both McCreery and Lauren Alaina on Monday, two days before fan votes gave the country crooner the show's top award. The draft contracts give the first-place winner — McCreery — at least $250,000 in advances for winning the show and recording the first album.

Story: Great Scott! McCreery wins 'American Idol'

The 17-year-old will earn tens of thousands of dollars more for granting "Idol" partners likeness, merchandise and endorsement rights, and will also receive royalties on any music he releases.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Runner-up Alaina is also set to receive a major payday; the contact approved by Superior Court Judge Marjorie Steinberg calls for the 16-year-old to receive $87,500 for finishing second. The amount would be doubled if Alaina records an album.

Despite the payouts that would be the dream of many high-schoolers, the newly-minted stars are receiving less than another "Idol" phenom who needed her mom's permission to perform. Season Six winner Jordin Sparks received a contract that guaranteed her a $180,000 advance after the show and another $180,000 after delivering her first album.

Story: How Scotty McCreery won 'American Idol'

Also, in some past seasons, winners were paid a minimum of $100,000 for merchandise rights, records show. Draft merchandise agreements for McCreery and Alaina give him $50,000 and her $40,000.

Their face-off this week was the first time in "Idol" history that both top contestants were under the age of 18. An estimated 29.3 million people tuned in, which The Nielsen Co. said Thursday was 21 percent more than last year's finale.

"It felt like a dream," McCreery said backstage in his dressing room after Wednesday's show. "It still hasn't sunk in yet, and I don't think it will for a while. I'm on top of the world right now."

Story: 'American Idol' finale audience up 21 percent

Judges must sign off on entertainment contracts for minors and ensure that appropriate financial safeguards remain in place until the teens reach adulthood.

Numerous other underage contestants have been featured on the show and advanced to its late stages, including Season Seven runner-up David Archuleta. Draft contracts filed in his minor's contract petition indicated the payout for winning "Idol" that year was $360,000 total if an album was recorded, and Archuleta was slated to receive an advance of $155,000 for placing second — double that once he produced an album.

Slideshow: ‘American Idol’ season 10 finale (on this page)

The contracts can be extended multiple times to allow "Idol" partners to release multiple albums, and the advance payouts increase each time the contract is renewed.

The teens' "Idol" contracts and recording deals require the show's producers and partners to place 15 percent of their gross earnings in a trust account that cannot be touched until after they turn 18 years old.

Neither McCreery nor Alaina was present Monday when Steinberg approved their "Idol" agreements.

Their advances will be placed in a Coogan Account, which is named after Jackie Coogan, an early-Hollywood child actor who was forced to sue his mother and former manager to recoup his earnings.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: 'American Idol' season 10 finale

loading photos...
  1. Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery

    "American Idol's" season 10 finale came down to two country singers, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, with McCreery claiming the crown. The finale was held at the Nokia Theatre LA Live in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 25. A record-setting 122 million votes were cast. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Beyonce

    Beyonce rocked out with "Idol's" returning female finalists, performing her hit "Crazy in Love." (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. James Durbin and Judas Priest

    Fourth-place finisher James Durbin, right, once again gave metal a chance by performing with the heavy metal band Judas Priest. Durbin sang with band frontman Rob Halford on the songs "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Jack Black and Casey Abrams

    "Kung Fu Panda 2" star Jack Black, left, and sixth-place finisher Casey Abrams performed "Fat Bottomed Girls" during the "Idol" season 10 finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The top 13

    The top 13 contestants, from left, Thia Megia, Stefano Langone, Pia Toscano, Naima Adedapo, Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, Ashthon Jones, Paul McDonald, Haley Reinhart, Karen Rodriguez and Jacob Lusk performed together one more time. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga returned to the "Idol" stage again to perform her song "Edge of Glory." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Steven Tyler

    "Idol" judge Steven Tyler waved to the crowd as he walked onstage during the results show. His first season on the show was an eventful one. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Jacob Lusk and Gladys Knight

    Jacob Lusk, who finished in fifth place, performed "Smile" with Kurt Franklin and Gladys Knight. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Tim McGraw and Scotty McCreery

    Before the winner was announced, country star Tim McGraw performed a duet of "Live Like You Were Dying" with finalist Scotty McCreery. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Beyonce and the girls

    Pia Toscano, Ashthon Jones, Beyonce and Naima Adedapo performed together during the "Idol" finale. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Marc Anthony and J.Lo

    Marc Anthony, who appeared on an earlier episode of "American Idol" this season, came back to perform during the finale. His wife, judge Jennifer Lopez, joined him onstage to show off her dance moves. (Kevin Winter/american Idol 2011 / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. The judges

    This year's "Idol" judging panel of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler acknowledged the crowd at the beginning of the finale show. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Haley Reinhart and Tony Bennett

    Third-place finisher Haley Reinhart performed "Steppin' Out With My Baby" with legend Tony Bennett during the "American Idol" season 10 finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The top guys

    The top six guys performed a group number during the "Idol" finale. They are, from left, Scotty McCreery, James Durbin, Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone, Jacob Lusk and Casey Abrams. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. "T-Boz" and "Chilli"

    Singers Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of TLC perform onstage. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Tom Jones and the guys

    The top 12 male finalists perform with special guest Tom Jones during the show's finale. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Carrie Underwood and Lauren Alaina

    Season four winner Carrie Underwood performed her hit song, "Before He Cheats," with finalist Lauren Alaina during the "Idol" season 10 finale. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Does whatever a spider can

    Even Spiderman showed up for the finale. Bono and The Edge of U2 and Reeve Carney were caught in the superhero's web. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. And the winner is ...

    Finalists Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina held each other for support as host Ryan Seacrest prepared to announce the winner of "American Idol" season 10. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Rooting for Scotty

    Fans celebrate Scotty McCreery's victory during a viewing party held at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C. McCreery is from Garner, N.C. (Jim R. Bounds / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Great Scott!

    Winner Scotty McCreery hugs finalist Lauren Alaina as Jennifer Lopez hand him his trophy at the "American Idol" finale. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Group hug

    "Idol" contestants congratulate Scotty McCreery after he won. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Here comes the confetti

    Scotty McCreery celebrates with fellow contestants as confetti buries the stage. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. The new 'Idol'

    Scotty McCreery celebrates after being named the winner. The judges had all given a slight edge to Lauren Alaina the night before the results show. (Michael Becker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

More on TODAY.com

  1. Warren Toda / EPA file

    Hey girl! Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes welcome baby

    9/16/2014 11:17:41 PM +00:00 2014-09-16T23:17:41
  1. TVNorge via YouTube

    Forget the fox, new Ylvis song ties us in knots

    9/16/2014 11:18:29 PM +00:00 2014-09-16T23:18:29
  1. via @ProfKeefe

    Woman in '9/11 wedding photo' had no idea she was part of a mystery

    9/16/2014 8:21:46 PM +00:00 2014-09-16T20:21:46
  1. Everett Collection, Getty Images

    'Facts of Life' stars reunite after 35 years, talk Clooney kiss and Blair brawl

    9/16/2014 3:16:38 PM +00:00 2014-09-16T15:16:38
  1. ‘This is a global threat’: Obama reveals plan for Ebola outbreak 

    The White House says it will involve up to 3,000 troops and more than $500 million to combat the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

    9/16/2014 9:08:41 PM +00:00 2014-09-16T21:08:41