The friends and family members of American Idol 5 finalists make great television, cheering wildly or booing when Simon Cowell criticizes their kid, but the show does not cover any of the cost for them to be in LA.
While they attend the show for free, just like all of the other amoebae in the audience, the “contestants’ family members — and sometimes those around them — are paying a price to lend moral support to their favorite singers,” the AP reports. Mandisa’s stepmother makes self-funded “weekly trips from Atlanta,” but Kenneth Daughtry had his trip paid for by his boss, who also gave him time off work. Kellie Pickler’s grandfather is “staying at a Howard Johnson hotel near the airport and friends have helped out with the cost,” the AP reports. Ace and Katharine’s families live in LA, so they aren’t spending a lot of money to be in the audience.
The only parents or guardians who stay for free “are the relatives of minor contestants who, by law, must have a guardian with them,” and thus stay in the finalists’ apartments, the AP reports.