Ryan Seacrest’s $15 Million: He’s Earned It! Seriously!

Though the ratings for “American Idol” have been down a bit, that’s hardly Ryan Seacrest’s fault, which is probably why he was able to sign a three-year contract extension worth $45 million, making him the richest reality show host on the market.

In the 2007 film “Knocked Up,” Seacrest (playing himself) goes on a rant about how many jobs he has. “I don’t understand the young talent in this town — I’ve got four jobs! Hell, I’m more famous than half the people we talk to anyway!” The guy actually undershoots his target: Between “Idol,” his on-air gig at E!, his two radio shows (the daily “On the Air With Ryan Seacrest” and the weekly “American Top 40″) and his production duties on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Bromance” and “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated,” his schedule is pretty well packed.

But he’s certainly well compensated. And you know what? He probably deserves more. In this year’s “Celebrity 100″ (put together by Forbes), Seacrest came in at number 44, having made $38 million in the past twelve months. His regular gigs are augmented by red-carpet hosting events and ABC’s special on New Year’s Eve. But if rappers have taught us anything, it’s that diversification is the key to financial success. Seacrest has got that in spades as well, as he is under contract with both Coca-Cola (as part of his “Idol” gig) and Proctor & Gamble (cleverly, he endorses Crest).

Seacrest’s old deal was reportedly worth $5 million a year, so assuming that he isn’t taking any pay cuts, he’ll yearly income will increase to at least $48 million. He also recently shared (via his Twitter) that he is working on another reality show project with Lindsay Lohan. That could bring in another $6 million, which would put him up over the $50 million mark.

(As a sidebar: Do you think Brian Dunkleman reads these numbers and weeps silently to himself?)

Seacrest takes a lot of heat — after all, he is paid tens of millions of dollars to do what seems like very little. But he’s basically carrying all of pop radio on his back and has a natural charisma that most people in the reality show universe. Seacrest will probably never eclipse Dick Clark as far as his contributions to music history are concerned (Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are great, but Clark helped bring Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Chubby Checker to the masses), but it’s hardly his fault that he was born thirty years too late. $15 million for Seacrest interviewing crazy people at “Idol” auditions? He’s earned it.