Last Updated: April 9, 2024
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$20 Million
$2.5 Million
Jun 19, 1962 (61 years old)
San Fernando
4 ft 11 in (1.524 m)
Actor, Music Video Director, Television producer, Dancer, Choreographer, TV Personality, Voice Actor, Singer-songwriter
United States of America
💰 Compare Paula Abdul's Net Worth

What Is Paula Abdul's Net Worth and Salary?

Paula Abdul is an American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer, and producer who has a net worth of $20 million.

Paula Abdul's career, which has spanned four decades, has ranged from choreographer to pop star to reality television star.  Abdul's career has been quite the roller coaster. After auditioning her way into a spot on the Laker Girls' cheerleading squad, she quickly transitioned to head choreographer. Her work with the Laker Girls led to choreography gigs for television, music videos, films, and tours and saw her working with the entire Jackson family, including choreographing Janet Jackson's "Control" tour. Paula also choreographed sequences for "Big," "Coming to America," "Jerry Maguire," "American Beauty," "Can't Buy Me Love," and a long list of other high-profile projects.

In addition to her Emmy-winning choreography work, Abdul also launched a hugely successful music career in the '90s that spawned six #1 hits and won her a Grammy Award.  After a break from the spotlight, she returned to television as a judge on "American Idol" in the early 2000s. Paula remained a judge on the show through 2009. She left the show after a failed salary negotiation in which she was seeking a raise from $5-8 million per year to as much as $20 million.

After leaving "Idol," Paula judged multiple shows, continued to choreograph, and has all around enjoyed her re-emergence into pop culture. She hosted two seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance" (2015 and 2016). She also served as a judge on the first season of the US version of "The X Factor."  The show had some issues and was decidedly less popular than creator Simon Cowell had hoped.  However, many people tuned in simply to see Ms. Abdul and Mr. Cowell reunited as judges, harkening back to their early "Idol" days.

"American Idol" Salary

  • Very early media reports suggest Paula Abdul's salary on the earliest seasons of "American Idol" was $1 million per year.
  • It was reported in 2008, after a contract re-negotiation, that Paula was earning somewhere between $5 million and $8 million per season.
  • By her 8th season, some reports indicate Paula's salary may have reached a peak of $8 million.

Comparison to Other Judges:

  • Randy Jackson: Earned a similar range, roughly $5 million to $6.5 million per season.
  • Simon Cowell was the highest-paid judge, making a whopping $36 million per season. This stark difference may have contributed to Paula's eventual departure.
  • Despite rumored salary discrepancies, Paula has publicly expressed support for fellow judges earning more. When asked about Katy Perry's reported $25 million salary, she simply said, "Good for her!"

Early Life

Paula Abdul was born Paula Julie Abdul on June 19, 1962, in San Fernando, California. She began taking dance lessons at an early age and attended Van Nuys High School, where she was a cheerleader and an honor student. Abdul started attending California State University, Northridge, in 1980. During her freshman year, she was chosen out of 700 candidates to be a famed "Laker Girl" cheerleader for the LA Lakers basketball team. A year later, she was named head choreographer. Within six months, her choreography and dancing careers took off and she left the university.



Paula's first major job was choreographing the music video "Torture" for The Jacksons after a few of the band members had discovered her while attending an LA Lakers game. She subsequently choreographed their "Victory" tour, as well. Abdul was also chosen to choreograph the giant keyboard scene involving Tom Hanks' character in the 1988 film "Big." In 1987, she used her savings to record a singing demo and was subsequently signed to Virgin Records. Abdul was an untrained singer even though she was a talented dancer and choreographer, so she underwent voice coaching to help her develop her voice. Her first studio album was 1988's "Forever Your Girl," and it went on to become the most successful debut album in history at that time. It spent 10 weeks at the top of the "Billboard" chart and was certified Platinum in 1989. Paula won her first Grammy for Best Music Video for "Opposites Attract," which she also choreographed.

Abdul's career went into hiatus for personal and physical reasons, and her 1995 comeback "Head over Heels" saw moderate commercial success but ended up being her lowest-selling release. In 1997, she co-wrote the song "Spinning Around," which was intended to be her big comeback single, but the song was later given to Kylie Minogue. She also released a few workout videos during this time and served as a choreographer for film and theater projects, including the cheerleading scenes in 1999's "American Beauty." By 2000, she was no longer affiliated with Virgin Records.

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for WE )

"American Idol"

In 2002, Abdul got a gig as one of three judges on the Fox reality competition show "American Idol." She was praised for her sympathetic and compassionate style as a judge and mentor, especially when compared to co-judge Simon Cowell's brash manner. Their different styles resulted in dramatic and heated on-air exchanges. Paula was simultaneously working as a reporter for "Entertainment Tonight" while working on "American Idol".

"Dance Like There's No Tomorrow," a single released in 2008, was Abdul's return to the chart for the first time in 13 years.

Paula departed "American Idol" in July 2009 after eight seasons over salary negotiation conflicts. She was earning $5 million per season but was seeking as much as $20 million for her return. She was replaced by Ellen Degeneres.

Other Television Work

It was announced in May 2011 that Abdul would reunite with Simon Cowell on the first season of the American edition of "The X Factor." However, she did not return for a second season and was replaced by Demi Lovato. Paula was a guest judge on the dance competition reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2013 and was subsequently named as a judge on the Australian version of the show. Abdul later became a permanent judge for the American version of the show but only judged on the show for two years.

Paula Abdul Net Worth

(Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Return to Performing

Abdul performed a full headlining set for the first time in 26 years on August 6, 2016, at the Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She started touring with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men on their 2017 comeback tour, which marked her first tour in 25 years. They did a total of 47 shows together. In October 2018, Abdul embarked on a solo tour, "Straight Up Paula!," for a total of 27 shows. She began her first Las Vegas Residency ("Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl") on August 13, 2019, and it ended in January 2020.

Paula Abdul

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Personal Life

In 1994, Abdul was treated for bulimia, which she revealed she had suffered from since she was a teenager. In April 2006, Paula claimed she had been a victim of battery at a party by a man who argued with her, grabbed her, and threw her against a wall. She sustained a concussion and spinal injuries.

A 30-year-old woman named Paula Goodspeed was found dead in her car of an overdose outside of Abdul's home in Sherman Oaks, California, on November 11, 2008. Goodspeed had been an obsessive fan of Abdul's, bordering on the line of stalking.

From 1992 to 1994, Paula was married to Emilio Estevez. She was married to Brad Beckerman from 1996 to 1998. Abdul practices the Jewish faith and is an avid dog lover.


In 2004, Paula was fined and given 24 months probation for a misdemeanor hit and run. She was driving her Mercedes-Benz in Los Angeles when she changed lanes on the freeway and hit another vehicle but kept driving.

Substance abuse allegations came to light during "American Idol," with fans taking notice of her sometimes erratic behavior and off-the-wall comments. Abdul rejected these claims, citing pain medicine usage for various injuries and chronic pain she experiences as a result of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) for her strange on-screen behavior.

Nigel Lythgoe Lawsuit

In December 2023, Paula filed a lawsuit against "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" producer Nigel Lythgoe. In the lawsuit, she accused him of sexual assault on various occasions during their years working together. According to Abdul's lawsuits, during an early season of "American Idol," Nigel allegedly shoved her against the wall of an elevator, grabbed her genitals and breasts, and began "shoving his tongue down her throat."

Real Estate

In September 2000, Paula paid $1.285 million for a home in Sherman Oaks, California. She sold this home in March 2012 for $1.884 million.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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