Is Crystal Bowersox Better Off as 'American Idol' Runner-Up?

Lee Dwyze may have claimed the title as ninth "American Idol," but runner-up Crystal Bowersox might emerge as the real winner.

As recent history has shown, the top "Idol" crowning doesn't always translate into a blockbuster career with millions in record and concert sales, endorsements and sponsorships.

Viewers watching seven of the eight previous Idols appear onstage for Wednesday night's season nine finale could see that some "Idol" winners had fared professionally better than others.

VIDEO: Lee DeWyze beat out Crystal Bowersox to become the ninth "American Idol."Play
'American Idol': Lee DeWyze Beats Crystal Bowersox

By far, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood and the very first "Idol," Kelly Clarkson, had achieved the most success of all the "Idol" winners.

Season seven winner David Cook hasn't done so bad himself. With 11 songs appearing simultaneously on the charts, he broke the Billboard 100 record previously held by Miley Cyrus.

Then there are Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks and last year's winner, Kris Allen. All reached the pinnacle of "American Idol" yet failed to achieve the success or even recognition of runner-ups Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert.

Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, who never made it past the top three, have also gone on to successful careers, earning millions in album sales and endorsements.

VIDEO: Simon Cowells top five moments on American Idol.Play
Simon Cowell's Top 5 'American Idol' Moments

Of all the "Idol" contestants, only Hudson has successfully managed an acting career too. She won an Oscar for best supporting actress for "Dreamgirls," beating out season three "Idol" winner Barrino for the role.

So Bowersox has plenty of role models among the "Idol" losers and second-place finishers who ultimately emerged victorious. Or she could just as easily go the way of Justin Guarini and Diane DeGarmo. Remember them?

Take a look at some of the runner-ups and contestants who never made it to the final and learn what happened to their career since:

Justin Guarini

While season one winner Clarkson became a household name, Guarini quickly returned to obscurity.

After Guarini co-starred with Clarkson in the poorly received "From Justin to Kelly," he released his self-titled CD in June 2003.

Guarini has continued to record and managed to find work as an entertainment commentator, but he has failed to live up to the pop star potential Simon Cowell once bestowed on him.

Clay Aiken

Aiken continues to surprise, ever since his second-place finish to season two winner Studdard.

Since the release of his first single, Aiken has outsold and outshined Studdard, earning an estimated $2.2 million in 2009, according to Forbes.

His "Claymates" made him a hit in Broadway's "Spamalot." And when he announced he was gay and becoming a father, he made the cover of People.

Diana DeGarmo

Sweet DeGarmo never seemed much of a match for season three powerhouse winner Barrino. Nor does her career compare.

DeGarmo released two albums, "Blue Skies" (2004) and "Unplugged in Nashville" (2009). Neither made much of a splash. DeGarmo has found modest success in theater, though. She appeared in "Hairspray" and "Hair" on Broadway.

Jennifer Hudson

Hudson didn't get past seventh place in season three, but in other ways she has eclipsed winner Barrino. After winning the Oscar for "Dreamgirls," Hudson starred in the films "Sex and the City" and "The Secret Life of Bees." She is currently filming "Winnie," about Winnie Mandela, the wife of Nelson Mandela.

Her recording career hasn't done so bad either, although her first self-titled album came out in the midst of personal tragedy -- a short time after it was released, her mother, sister and nephew were murdered in Chicago. The album sold a respectable 800,000 copies and earned her a Grammy.

Hudson has also scored lucrative endorsement deals with Gap, Avon and currently Weight Watchers, after shrinking from size 16 to size 6.

Bo Bice

As the first rocker to rise on "Idol," Bice showed a lot of promise, but he was ultimately bested by season four winner Underwood.

Bice's first album, "The Real Thing," released in December 2005, reached No. 4 on Billboard's Top Albums chart, and he seemed off to a good start, appearing with Willie Nelson and recording with Carlos Santana.

But a life-threatening intestinal condition sidelined him, and Bice never seemed to get back on track. He recently released his third album on an independent label and continues to tour.

Katharine McPhee

McPhee has had a disappointing recording career since coming in second to winner Taylor Hicks.

But that hasn't stopped her from becoming a fixture on the entertainment scene. The Los Angeles native has appeared in People magazine and Teen Vogue, and co-starred in the film "The House Bunny."

Chris Daughtry

By far, Daughtry was the biggest success to come out of season five. He didn't make it past fourth place, but he has easily surpassed winner Hicks.

His debut album outsold Hicks' album -- 5 million to 700,000, respectively. Together, his two albums have sold 6 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Today, he commands stadium-size concerts and has become a fixutre on radio and television.

Blake Lewis

Season six saw a drop in the ratings for "Idol." It's no wonder then that neither Lewis nor winner Jordin Sparks have made much of a splash since then.

While Sparks appears to be growing her fan base, beat-boxing Lewis has for the most part faded into obscurity. His first album reached No. 10 on the charts but sold a disappointing 350,000 copies.

After label Arista dropped him, Lewis recorded his sophomore effort, an electronica album for Tommy Boy Records.

David Archuleta

Archuleta was16 when he was runner-up to David Cook in the battle of the Davids in season seven, so the jury is still out on his career.

Even though his first album did middlingly well, Archuleta has a strong fan base of tweens and teens. He's won several Teen Choice Awards and appeared on popular kids' shows such as "iCarly" and "Hannah Montana."

Adam Lambert

Lambert may have lost out on the title to Kris Allen last season, but he snagged the cover of Rolling Stone and continues to generate more buzz and album sales.

His censored performance at the American Music Awards earlier this year was widely talked about. But the controversy only seems to help Lambert sell more records.

His first album reached No. 3 on Billboard's 100 and has racked up 2.6 million downloads, easily making Lambert a millionaire. Next month, he launches his Glam Nation tour.