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Simon Cowell, American Idol
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SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know who won the first season of The X Factor! For the rest of you, check out what the winner’s mentor had to say below:

Credit: Fox

It’s safe to say Simon Cowell was a very happy man after the conclusion of the first season of The X Factor. Not only had his final contestant, Melanie Amaro, emerged victorious, but Simon had also won a $10,000 bet with L.A. Reid. The two even joked on the post-show press line about publicly exchanging Simon’s prize in St. Bart’s — except I’m not really convinced they were kidding. Ah, the one percent.

Simon also took time to speak with reporters about where Melanie goes from here, reflect on the day he went to her home to ask her back on the show, and which other X Factor acts he’s most keen to sign. Check out what he had to say below:

As you were standing up there with Melanie, did you doubt whether she would win?

Yeah, of course. Everything that happened on this show throughout the year, I was expecting the unexpected. And at that point, you start thinking, “What am I going to say to you if you lost?” It was very, very close.

[Melanie arrives on the press line, begins to take photographs. Simon starts clapping.] It’s my girl! My girl!

Have you thought about a creative team for her record?

We’ve got three labels that want to sign her. So I have to make a decision in the next 24 hours.

How long do you have the rights to sign the other contestants?

We’ve got a few months. Anyone we’re genuinely not interested in, they’ll be let go quickly. But there is a lot of interest in a lot of the artists. You can’t sign everyone, but, I mean, you’re not going to let Astro go. You’re not going to let Chris go, Josh go. It would be madness. But she is the priority.

How proud are you of the journey she’s been on?

Well, look at her. She’s a little star. I remember when I walked into her house, she’s literally watching herself on YouTube. I knock on her door. She did a double take when she saw me. I explained why I was there. And then 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.” And I stood there like a lemon for 30 seconds while she stared at me, and then quietly said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Now I’m seeing her behind me, she’s got the confidence. And I’m proud of the fact the show found her.

What made you let her go the first time?

I was probably looking for a bit of balance. To be honest with you, I can’t answer this question properly. All I can say is, I royally screwed up. But this time at least I have a chance to rectify it.

Was it the other judges calling you that helped change your mind?

A bit of that. And I also got to see the first cut of her first audition [before she made it to the judges], which I hadn’t seen. I watched it, and I thought, “I’ve let this girl go, I must be out of my mind.”

Do you think she’ll earn back the $5 million advance?

You always hope so. She’s willing to work hard. I think she’s someone who can sell records all over the world, which is important, and I think she’s got longevity. [The prize] goes against earnings, but she’s guaranteed the $5 million. She’s now a rich girl.

What advice will you give Melanie that she can use after tonight?

Well, nothing is going to sink in right now. Wait ’til tomorrow. [Laughter]

So tomorrow, when you see her, what advice will you give her?

Remember, it was the fans who got you here. Never forget the fans. I said that to Kelly Clarkson. I’ve seen people from these shows, one minute they’re “Thank you for voting for me,” next thing, they’re not signing autographs. I don’t buy that kind of behavior. If they’ve made you, you have a debt with them, and it’s long term. But [Melanie] is that kind of girl.

Why do you think she lasted longer than Drew or Rachel?

She’s got that star ability, and she’s tough. She was not the easiest person to work with. If she didn’t like something, she’d tell you. But I like that. I like that from an artist. You know, she’s got guts. She’s got steel. And right up until the last second, she was always concerned about her performance, and then the light switch went on every time.

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Simon Cowell, American Idol
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Simon Cowell, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland, and Paulina Rubio judge Season 3.
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