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Former 'American Idol' Judge Simon Cowell Offered $130 Million To Stay On Show

Cowell

First Posted: 01/18/11 03:47 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Simon Cowell's new show, 'The X Factor' better be a big hit -- for his wallet's sake.

Cowell, the bombastic judge that spent nine years as the star of 'American Idol,' left the show after last season to bring overseas his hit British singing competition 'The X Factor.' But it wasn't an easy decision: after making $33 million for his last season, FOX president Rupert Murdoch offered him a mind-blowing $130 million to stay on 'Idol.'

According to Richard Rushfield in his new book, 'American Idol: The Untold Story,' it was an agonizing decision for Cowell, who had to consider ambition, a lost friendship and a massive fortune in making his choice. And he nearly didn't make the leap.

Fueled by his need to be the boss, as well as anger toward former friend and 'Idol' creator Simon Fuller, who sued him over the creation of 'The X Factor,' Cowell changed his mind after initially deciding to take the money and stay.

"That's the time you find out that's who you really are, I guess," he said. "I used to say it's about the money... Suddenly, when you're in that position, loyalty comes into it, all sorts of emotions."

'The X Factor' will debut later this year, with Cowell as judge and executive producer.

For much more on the story of the creation of both shows, and the drama that ensued, click over to the Daily Beast's excerpt of the book.

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Filed by Jordan Zakarin  |