It appears that a victory on “American Idol” is worth about 300,000 in album sales, and if you want a No. 1, you need to make sure the competition is sparse.

“Idol” season-five winner Taylor Hicks got the good news and bad news Wednesday when his debut sold 298,000 but came in at No. 2 behind Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy, whose sophomore disc “The Inspiration” (Def Jam) sold 352,000 copies in the week ended Sunday.

As sales go, Hicks wasn’t that far behind the debut of season-four winner Carrie Underwood, whose “Some Hearts” sold 315,000 in its first week.

Hicks’ self-titled disc barely edged the debut of Kelly Clarkson, whose “Thankful” moved 297,000 copies when it was released in April 2003.

The top dog among the “Idol” champs is Ruben Studdard, who sold 417,000 copies of his debut when it was released in December 2003.

Bringing up the rear for debut discs is Fantasia, whose sophomore effort got off to a shaky start last week, selling 133,000 copies to open at No. 19. Her debut, “Free Yourself,” sold 239,000 copies when it came out in November 2004.

The show, after five seasons, appears to have created a star in Clarkson and may have another one in Underwood, whose album is at No. 6, having sold 199,000 copies last week and boasting a cume of 4.3 million.

Hicks, more than other finalists, had an air of sincerity and experience to him that has ingratiated him to other TV shows and media. And his choice of rock classics throughout the “Idol” competion endeared him to older rock fans.

Yet a single from his self-titled Arista/19 debut has yet to chart in the top 50 — a key reason Hicks didn’t storm the chart last week. It wasn’t for lack of promotion as Hicks has been making the TV rounds for nearly a month, appearing on “20/20,” the American Music Awards, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Good Morning America” and “Live With Regis and Kelly.” Since the album’s release, he has been making the rounds in syndication and cable, appearing on “The View,” MTV’s “TRL,” “The Martha Stewart Show,” “Dr. Phil” and “The Megan Mullally Show.”

Hicks has only one of his “Idol” competitors in the top 10: Chris Daughtry, who is going with his last name as a moniker. He remained at No. 7, selling 181,000 copies last week, up 17%, to bring cume to 795,000. Kellie Pickler’s “Small Town Girl” has sold about 260,000 to date.

Katharine McPhee, who made it to the final two with Hicks, will release her debut in January.

While results may vary from one “Idol” to another, the most astonishing fall may belong to Clay Aiken. In 2003, his debut “Measure of a Man” sold 613,000 copies in its first week; his second non-holiday disc, “A Thousand Different Ways,” has yet to top 500,000 in the 2½ months it has been up for sale.

Elsewhere on the chart, Tyrese’s “Alter Ego” (J Records) sold 116,000 to debut at No. 23. Double-CD features one disc of R&B songs and the other hip-hop, by Tyrese’s rapping alter-ego Black-Ty. Album is driven by three singles: ballad “One”; “Turn Ya Out,” featuring Lil’ Jon; and the club-oriented rap track “Get It In.”

Last week’s chart topper, Ciara’s “The Evolution” (LaFace), slid out of the top 10 to No. 11, selling 164,000 in its second stanza. Josh Groban sang with Tony Bennett on “Oprah” during the sales tally period, resulting in an 83% spike for “Awake” (143/Reprise), which sold 222,000 to hit No. 5.