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Mariah Carey is officially an American Idol judge — but she didn't come cheap.

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According to those close to the singer, Mariah signed a contract assuring her $18 million a season — that's a full $6 million more than Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler earned last season.

In fact, Us Weekly reports that Mariah's upcoming paycheck makes her the "highest paid judge on any music competition show," and the Emancipation of MiMi singer would have it no other way.

Her closest competition is (not surprisingly) Britney Spears, who negotiated $16 million for the upcoming season of The X Factor.

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Last week, Mariah's hubby, Nick Cannon, told reporters that Fox wouldn't be able to "afford" his wife.

"I don't know if they can afford Mariah Carey. That's a lot of money. If they gave J.Lo $20 million, they might have to double that!" he joked. "You never know, it's one of things, she's got an album coming out, so there's promotional stuff…."

Well, one thing's for certain: Mariah set the bar pretty high for whomever they sign next. We doubt soul queen Aretha Franklin, who really wants an Idol gig, will settle for much less.

 
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