'Idol' Contestant -- Applebee's Karaoke Champion

1/21/2011 8:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Ashley Sullivan -- the "Idol" contestant who cried her way to a golden ticket -- just so happens to be a graduate of one of the most prestigious musical institutions in the world ... the Applebee's Performance Center in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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TMZ has obtained video of Sullivan busting out "Take Me or Leave Me" from Rent last year at a karaoke contest at The Bee -- and get this -- we're told Sullivan took home the top prize ... of $500.