What a difference a decade makes.
Though it may feel like a lifetime ago, it was exactly 10 years ago on January 11, 2010 when Simon Cowell stunned American Idol fans a day before the wildly successful reality series, then TV's No. 1 show and a Fox mainstay, was set to premiere its ninth season to a total 29.9 million viewers with confirmation that he would be walking away from the show that introduced his acerbic wit and estimable music insights to American audiences by season's end.
Appearing at the 2010 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour, Cowell validated weeks of speculation that his plans to launch an American version of his hit UK singing competition The X Factor would mean the end of his time on Idol, singing the last page of his "contract" on stage with then-Fox execs Peter Rice and Kevin Reilly. Talk about extra.
"We've been talking about this for a long long time, this whole process," Cowell told reporters "I've said all along that at the end of this contract I'm going to leave the show. Everyone thought I was negotiating… (but) I felt like doing something different." Naturally, it didn't hurt that, as opposed to merely being an employee, as he was on Idol, he flat-out owned The X Factor, making the sale of the format to Fox and his new role of executive producer on it add zeros on his already sizable paycheck, estimated to be around $36 million per season at that point. And that was just for Idol and to say nothing of the checks rolling in for his work across the pond on Britain's Got Talent and the OG version of The X Factor.
In short: Chh-ching.