(LOS ANGELES) — Melanie Amaro of Sunrise, Fla., was crowned the winner on Thursday night’s first season finale of Fox’s The X Factor.
The 19-year-old finished ahead of Josh Krajcik, a 30-year-old father from Columbus, Ohio, in viewer votes. Chris Rene, a 28-year-old recovering addict and father from Santa Cruz, Calif., was third.
Upon hearing the news, Amaro was almost speechless, but she managed to scream “Oh, my God!” and hug her family onstage. She wins a recording contract with Sony Music-owned record label SyCo, valued at $5 million, and a spot in a Pepsi commercial.
A visibly-shaken Amaro finally composed herself enough to sing a victory song, Beyonce’s “Listen” which has become her signature tune on the show. She broke down as the other finalists rushed on stage but recovered for one big final note. The 19-year-old praised God for the win, and said it was something she had wanted all her life.
Amaro’s road to victory was not a smooth one. Earlier in the season, she was rejected and sent home when the final 16 acts were picked, only to get a reprieve from Simon Cowell.
Last night, Cowell thanked America for giving Amaro the opportunity to become a star, and commended Krajcik as a worthy finalist.
The X Factor will air again on Fox next fall.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN