The top 10 "American Idol" finalists say they already count themselves as winners: They've earned a place on the show's nationwide concert tour.
For Adam Lambert, the summer tour means the chance to buy a condo. Danny Gokey sees it as a financial boon as well. Michael Sarver fervently echoes that and looks forward to his version of a rock-star perq — ice cream, and lots of it.
"I have a major problem with ice cream. I should probably go to Ice Cream Anonymous meetings," he said.
Sarver and his fellow contestants laugh when asked about any divalike demands, but they're serious about the opportunity ahead of them.
"I didn't know my situation if I had to go back home without the tour. … things are not easy right now," said Sarver, 27, an oil-rig worker from Jasper, Texas, who's married with two children. "This says I have work this year. It's a blessing."
Lambert, 27, of Los Angeles figures it's about time he owned his own home. Megan Joy, 23, from Sandy, Utah, is looking forward to a little personal space for her and her toddler.
"I get to finally move out of my mom's house," she said, gleefully.
Dates and tour locations have yet to be announced for the tour, which follows the show's May 20 finale. On this week's shows the contestants were set to perform Motown tunes.
What they'll be paid for the tour is kept under wraps by producers. Even the contestants were uncertain a week after making the cut.
"I keep hearing that it's plenty," said Kris Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark. "That's nice."
Of course, there's more than money at stake — the chance to connect with fans and to build a career are the real plums, the finalists said.
"It still seems like a dream. … I can't wait to see what I learn doing it," said Matt Giraud, 23, of Kalamazoo, Mich.
The tour is "an amazing opportunity," agreed Anoop Desai, 22, of Chapel Hill, N.C., calling "American Idol" the "biggest stage and best stage of all."
The typical "Idol" concert swing lasts more than three months and includes 50 or 60 concerts, including stadiums. The contestants travel by bus.
"That's what I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid, is going on the road and playing night after night … to share my music with whoever will listen to it. That's what I'm here to do," said Scott MacIntyre, 23, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
The finalists have bonded as housemates during the course of the TV show and expect the camaraderie — and the fun — to continue on tour, Lambert said.
Asked if he expects to be the demanding pop star, he laughed. "No, I take what I can get. I only like to play the part of the diva when I'm actually performing, but I don't like to act like that otherwise," he said.
Most expect to travel light, with cell phones and computers among the items mentioned as must-haves. Gokey, 28, of Milwaukee, whose wife died shortly before he auditioned for "American Idol," says his computer has "all my pictures on it. Basically, my whole life's on it."
The youngest finalist, 16-year-old Allison Iraheta of Downey, Calif., will be bringing along her schoolwork and maybe a parent.
"My mom might be going on tour with me, so it will be interesting," Iraheta said.
Lil Rounds, 24, of Memphis, Tenn., is hoping her husband and three children can visit her when the tour is close to home.
"The babies understand what I'm doing and they're proud," Rounds said.
She and her fellow contestants are just beginning to grasp their sudden shift in fortune.
"I went from singing at a church in front of maybe 70 to 80 people to a national tour. It's absolutely amazing," Rounds said.
For all the excitement the concert tour promises, the contestants want to believe it's just the start of something big.
"I'll definitely be sticking around, I hope, after all is said and done. I'm not stopping," said MacIntyre.
Gokey wants the same.
"It's so exciting to be on the road and fulfilling the dream that I've had. I'm hoping it's just the beginning," he said.
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