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5 ‘American Idol' winners with fewest record sales

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Posted at 11:39 AM, May 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-14 08:34:03-04

On Wednesday night, the 14th winner of "American Idol" was crowned. Any idea what the winner's name is?

There was a time when homes and offices across the nation would have been buzzing with talk about the show’s finalists, with the winner destined to be a top-selling artist, at least for a month or so. It appears those days are gone as Fox announced it would pull the plug on the once iconic series next year and recent “American Idol” winners have barely been selling records.

Since her win in 2005, Carrie Underwood’s four albums have averaged over 3.6 million sales — each being certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Season one winner Kelly Clarkson’s seven releases have sold nearly 13 million total copies; her latest, released in March, topped the charts.

But Underwood, Clarkson and a handful of other contestants have been exceptions to the rule. Below is a list of the least-successful winners from previous seasons of “American Idol,” in terms of reported record sales.

Taylor Hicks (season five - 2006)
Post-“American Idol” debut album sales: 705,000
Total career reported album sales: 768,000 (2 albums)

Kris Allen (season eight - 2009)
Post-“American Idol” debut album sales: 346,000
Total career reported album sales: 385,000 (3 albums)

Lee DeWyze (season nine - 2010)
Post-“American Idol” debut album sales: 153,000
Total career reported album sales: 156,000 (2 albums)

Candice Glover (season 12 - 2013)
Post-“American Idol” debut album sales: 27,000
Total career reported album sales: 27,000 (1 album)

Caleb Johnson (season 13 - 2014)
Post-“American Idol” debut album sales: 11,000
Total career reported album sales: 11,000 (1 album)

To put those sales numbers into perspective, William Hung, a notoriously tone-deaf singer who auditioned in 2004 with Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs,” has sold an estimated 242,000 records since he was laughed out of the audition room.

Examining the sales data for the show’s two recent winners, Glover and Johnson, shows the power “American Idol” has lost in terms of record-selling stature. The numbers likely aren’t a reflection of the talent levels of these winners but rather a disconnect between the television series and the people who buy albums.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.