Now we know why 'American Idol' producers were playing frugal when it came to Paula Abdul ... they were saving that cash bundle for their star judge. Simon Cowell is finalizing a deal with FOX to keep those ascerbic comments coming through 2011, and his payout is reported to be a gigantic $45 million a year -- up from $36 million under his current contract. Paula Abdul reportedly wanted a measly $10 million a year.

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Simon Equals ...
Now that he's banking $45 million a year from 'Idol,' Simon Cowell gets one of the biggest checks we know of. That's 1.6 Angelina Jolies! ... financially speaking, of course. See How He Stacks Up Against Other Superstars >>
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Simons Salary

    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 1.6 Alex Rodriguezes, who makes $28 million per year.

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    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 2.3 Charlie Sheen, who banks $19 million per year from 'Two and a Half Men.'

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    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 3 full Katie Courics, who earns $15 million per year as the anchor for 'CBS Evening News.'

    WireImage / AP

    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 1.6 Angelina Jolies, who pulled in $27 million in 2008.

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    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 4.5 Paula Abduls, who reportedly wanted $10 million per year to stay on 'American Idol.'

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    At $45 million a year, Simon Cowell = 112.5 Barack Obamas, who gets paid $400,000 to be the President of the United States.

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