smart spending

The cost of being on 'American Idol'

'She Bangs,' he banked
5 of 10

Sure, everyone wants to be the next Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood. But if your vocals are remarkably bad, you could jump straight from audition week to international stardom as the best of the worst.

Case in point: William Hung. The sonically challenged University of California, Berkeley engineering student so thoroughly ravaged Ricky Martin's infectious "She Bangs" during his third-season San Francisco audition that within days he became an international cottage industry, shaking his bon-bon on talk shows and cashing in on the karaoke circuit.

He may have been denied a golden ticket to Hollywood, but Hung currently ranks 26th in record sales among "Idol" alumni, according to Billboard. His 2004 album, "Inspiration," sold 240,000 copies, reached No. 34 on the Billboard 200 charts and spawned a 40-minute day-in-the-life DVD. Not a bad payday from a couple gallons of gas and parking for the audition.

Hung's duet with fellow Idol oddball General Larry Platt of "Pants On the Ground" during the 2010 season finale was a fitting salute to this also-ran who sprinted straight to the bank.




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