4th Judge Cleared Path For McCreery 'Idol' Payout

Scotty McCreery can thank a fourth judge for clearing his path to becoming the latest "American Idol."

A Los Angeles judge on Monday approved a minor's contract for the 17-year-old country crooner on Monday, two days before fans voted him the show's top singer. The judge's approval came after reviewing a draft recording contract that will pay McCreery $250,000 for winning and recording his first album.

Judge Marjorie Steinberg on Monday approved the same contract for Lauren Alaina. Because she placed second, she'll receive an $87,500 advance. The amount will double if she records an album.

Courts must approve agreements for entertainers under the age of 18.

Wednesday's finale was the first in which two contestants under 18 have faced off for the show's top award.

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Scotty McCreery from Garner NC has been crowned the new 'American Idol.'

McCreery defeated fellow country crooner Lauren Alaina.

McCreery, a fresh-faced 17-year-old with a strikingly deep voice, received more viewer votes than Alaina, a peppy 16-year-old from Rossville, Ga.

It was the first all-country finale for the Fox singing contest, now in its 10th season.

McCreery's victory Wednesday continued a recent pattern: He's the fourth male in a row to win "Idol." The last female to win was 17-year-old Jordin Sparks in 2007.

Alaina competed in Tuesday's final sing-off despite a vocal cord injury that required medical treatment. She received raves from the judges, who said she won the night. But the consistently popular McCreery claimed the title and a record contract.

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