The X Factor

The X Factor Crowns Its First Winner

12/22/2011 at 10:15 PM EST

Melanie Amaro Is X Factor Winner
Melanie Amaro
Michael Becker/PictureGroup

Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul

It's been a drama-filled first season of The X Factor, but in the end it came down to three: Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik and Chris Rene squared off in Wednesday's final round of competition for the grand prize – a $5 million recording contract.

Simon Cowell said the trio represented the most talented group of finalists of any singing competition he's done. But after Wednesday's performances, the head judge stood firmly behind his mentee, early frontrunner Amaro, saying the 19-year-old deserved to win following her duet with R. Kelly on "I Believe I Can Fly" and rendition of Beyoncé's "Listen."

Keep reading to find out the winner:

Melanie won!

The singer, who was at one point sent home and then brought back to the competition, was speechless.

"Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!" was all she could get out through tears before falling to her knees to pray.

"America, thank you for giving this girl an opportunity," Simon said on her behalf. "She is a star."

After attempting to sing, host Steve Jones tried to get an emotional Melanie to say a few words.

"Thank you so much!" she said. "I don't know what to say. Thank you. God is good."

The X Factor Crowns Its First Winner| The X Factor, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell

From left: Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene and Melanie Amaro

Frank Micelotta / FPictureGroup

Runner-up Josh, who made burritos before auditioning for the show, said: "I feel amazing. Melanie deserves it. She has a wonderful voice. I've had such an incredible experience here ... I couldn't be happier."

Chris Rene, the recently rehabbed trash collector, took third place, which was announced earlier in the two-hour broadcast.

"I feel amazing that I got to do this, that I'm here and that God has blessed me with so many opportunities," Rene said. "I just got to say thank you."

Auditions for season 2 of The X Factor begin in January.

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