Melanie Amaro, the 19-year-old singer from Sunrise, Fla., was awarded the grand prize on FOX's 'The X Factor' Thursday night. Immediately after she won, Amaro couldn't stop repeating Oh my God after winning her $5 million recording contract, but on Friday, Amaro was a bit more relaxed and ready to share her excitement over her big win.
I was so speechless, Amaro said. I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what to say 'cause that just brought me to an all-time high.
The months-long singing competition featured 12 contestants split into four groups, all of them vying for the grand prize: a multi-million-dollar recording contract. The UK-based show had a few differences from 'American Idol': both singers and groups could compete, there was a minimum age limit of 12 but no maximum age limit, and judges also served as mentors for the contestants. This season, Simon Cowell helped coach the female vocalists, L.A. Reid led the male singers, The Pussycat Dolls' Nicole Scherzinger coached the over-30 singers, and Paula Abdul helped coordinate the groups.
On the show's finale Thursday night, the finalists -- including Amaro, Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene -- sang a slew of Christmas songs. A number of celebrities in attendance also took the stage to perform songs with past 'X Factor' contestants, including 50 Cent, Stevie Wonder, Justin Bieber, Ne-Yo, Pitbull and Leona Lewis.
Amaro overcame being eliminated earlier in the competition to win the grand prize.
Melanie is going to have huge success, said Paula Abdul. And I love the underdog story. What a story. Simon denied her a spot in the live rounds... We all agreed that this is something we have to rectify and remedy and she came back. She's been a frontrunner from the get-go. It's been amazing.
Cowell said he regrets booting the 'X Factor' winner from the competition.
It was like a marriage proposal. I said to her, 'I've made a mistake, I admit it. I'm going to give you a second chance,' he said. And I stood there like a lemon for 30 seconds while she stared at me. And then quietly [she] said, 'Yes, I'll do it.' All I can say is I royally screwed up. I've done it before in this business. But this time at least I had a chance to rectify it. Thank God I did.
L.A. Reid concurred with Cowell:
The right person won. America got it right, he said. Simon really did a great job with Melanie. She is a gem. She has the gift, and you know what? I couldn't be happier for her.
Now that the competition is over, Amaro must find a way to spend her newfound prize money.
It's $5 million! she said. That means that I'll be able to get whatever I've ever wanted and be able to help my mother with whatever she needs help with... I'm just so very happy.
Amaro says she is keeping her major debut album a secret... [to] surprise everyone, but Cowell and the 'X Factor' crew are working on finalizing her contract.
We've got three labels right now who want to sign her with Sony, Cowell said. So I have to make the decision in the next 24 hours... She is the priority... We haven't had a singer like her since Mariah [Carey] and Whitney [Houston], so we have to do her justice. But fortunately a bunch of good producers want to work with her now.
Josh Krajcik, the 30-year-old singer from Wooster, Ohio, took second place. Rene, a 28-year-old singer and rapper from Santa Cruz, Calif., came in third. After the win, Amaro expressed deep gratitude towards her fans.
Thank God I had so many supporters supporting me, Amaro said Friday. I love you guys. Thank you so much for voting and putting me in this position. I love you all so very much. It's so good to know that so many people are supporting me right now and they're so happy for me, that makes me feel amazing.
Yet, 24 hours after the 'X Factor' finale, Amaro still can't believe she won.
I feel fantastic, Amaro said. It hasn't hit me yet, but I guarantee it will hit me pretty soon. It feels so surreal. It's like I'm dreaming. I feel like I'm in a dream. A sweet, sweet dream!