Melanie Amaro Will Spend Her X Factor Winnings on a New House – and Chicken!

Melanie Amaro Is the X Factor Winner: Interview
Melanie Amaro
Michael Becker/PictureGroup

12/23/2011 AT 09:15 AM EST

A foot massage, a house for her mom – and a lifetime supply of chicken.

With an hour to think about it, Melanie Amaro has already tallied up her dream purchases with the $5 million she earned Thursday night after being named the The X Factor's first winner.

"Life will change a lot," she tells PEOPLE. "The most I have ever had before was $200, if I was lucky."

The college freshman and piano teacher from Sunrise, Fla., plans to buy her mother a new house because, as she deadpans, "The one we live in now sucks."



But the chicken is for her. "I can't live without it," she says. "It's my favorite food.

Backstage, Amaro laughed as she recalled the moment she won and how she forgot the lyrics to her final song, "Listen."

"I couldn't remember any of the words," she says. "I was so overwhelmed; it was such a surprise to me."

On Thursday, after 40 million votes were tabulated, Amaro, 19, defeated burrito slinger and second place finisher Josh Krajcik, 30, and third place finisher Chris Rene, 28, a former garbage man and recovering addict.

A Deserving Winner

"It was a relief when it was over," says Krajcik, who will return home to Ohio Saturday to "decompress" for a week with his family before returning to Los Angeles next week to get back to work.

"I felt pride for Melanie and pride for myself," he tells PEOPLE. "She deserved to win; America decided, and she's got an amazing voice."

Rene, meanwhile, hopes to sign a deal with his mentor L.A. Reid, but for the near term, Rene says he will celebrate the night "with a Red Bull. Everyone who knows my music and my story, a lot more people have accepted me than I thought, and that's really beautiful."

Amaro is celebrating her win with family and friends – but she's already thinking about that next step: her debut record.

"I can do ballads," she says, "but I want to show people there is more. I can do anything if I put my mind to it."

After the show, her mentor, Simon Cowell, was beaming with pride.

"She was a good contestant because she thought long and hard about how she would interpret songs," says Cowell. "Every week we were discovering something new in her."

Cowell adds that four labels are interested in signing Amaro – and they plan to make their decision on Friday.

"America got it right," adds Reid. "My advice to Melanie is save some of that money and don't turn down a song."
MORE ON: Simon Cowell

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