4th judge cleared path for McCreery 'Idol' payout

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY | May 26, 2011 | 1:13 PM EDT

Scotty McCreery is seen backstage at the "American Idol" finale on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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 Aliana. 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.