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STORY: An emotional Melanie Amaro won the TV singing contest "The X Factor" on Thursday (December 22), earning a five million dollar recording contract and closing the first U.S. season of the heavily-hyped Fox show.
Josh Krajcik finished second after a public vote, and Chris Rene was in third place after a Christmas-themed, two-hour finale that also saw performances by Justin Bieber, Stevie Wonder, Leona Lewis and 50 Cent.
Amaro, aged 19, a ballad singer whose voice has drawn comparisons to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, had been tipped by the four judges to win after delivering a powerful rendition of Beyonce's hit "Listen" in Wednesday's (December 21) live show.
She dropped to her knees in prayer, and wept with joy, speechless at her victory.
More than 100,000 people auditioned for a chance to compete in "The X Factor". Amaro was at first not selected to be part of the final 12, but then judge and mentor Simon Cowell changed his mind and recalled her -- giving her a second chance at the title.
Cowell brought the show to American television after making it the most-watched show in his native Britain.
"The X Factor" will return for a second U.S. season in the fall of 2012.