'The X Factor' crowns Tate Stevens champion over Carly Rose Sonenclar and Fifth Harmony
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/21/2012
Tate Stevens was crowned The X Factor's second-season winner during the Fox reality singing competition's live finale on Thursday night.
"First and foremost, I've gotta thank the Man upstairs for taking care of me -- my family, all the country music fans, God bless you. And thank you all so very much for all the votes. This is the best day of my life," Stevens, a 37-year-old from Raymore, MO, tearfully said in disbelief afterThe X Factor co-hosts Mario Lopez and Khloe Kardashian announced his victory.
"Congratulations to you. You deserve this. I'm proud to work with you. I think you represent The X Factor really, really well. So on behalf of myself, [creator and judge Simon Cowell], and all the judges, congratulations," Stevens' mentor L.A. Reid told his winning artist.
Stevens, who competed throughout the season as one of the acts in Reid's "Over 25s" category, walked away with a $5 million recording contract. Stevens won The X Factor after he had received the most home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's final performance show, which had featured the Top 3 acts each singing a solo and a duet with a famous singer or group in addition to an encore performance of a highly-praised song from earlier in the season.
Carly Rose Sonenclar, a 13-year-old from Mamaroneck, NY who was in the "Teens" category, finished as the runner up.
"It's pretty surreal. For me, every single day is surreal. I can't believe it's even happening, but it's amazing," Sonenclar said mid-finale broadcast when asked what her experience has been like on The X Factor. "It's just awesome to get that kind of support [from fans]."
"She just never ceases to amaze me every time she performs. It's just different every time and spectacular. I'm so proud of you," said Sonenclar's mentor Britney Spears.
Third place went to one of Cowell's "Groups" acts, Fifth Harmony -- which was comprised of female members Ally Brooke, a 19-year-old from Santa Ana, CA; Camila Cabello, a 15-year-old from San Antonio, TX; Normani Hamilton, a 16-year-old from Miami, FL; Dinah Jane Hansen, a 15-year-old from Miami, FL; and Lauren Jauregui, a 16-year-old from Court Pearland, TX.
"We just want to say thank you to anyone that has supported us this entire time, to our families and just God bless you all, really," Jauregui explained following the night's first set of results.
"Oh my gosh girls, I love ya'll so much. Ya'll literally are my sisters. Ya'll are my sisters and I love ya'll so much. Ya'll are incredible and I'm thankful to God that we were put together. Ya'll are amazing and I love ya'll," Brooke added, referencing how Fifth Harmony had only become a group once the show's judges combined five soloists into one act during the audition process.
"It's amazing. I feel like in this competition, we gained more than $5 million, because we gained friends for life. I'm just so happy to be where I am right now. I'm just so happy," Cabello said.
"I have a feeling we're going to be hearing and seeing a lot more from these girls in the future," Cowell told his girl group.
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Earlier in the finale episode, Lopez announced The X Factor's Top 3 had received over 35 million votes Wednesday night. However, he did not reveal how many votes actually separated the second-season finalists.
Stevens and Sonenclar were believed to be the frontrunners of the competition all season long, as the two artists had flip-flopped but still managed to maintain the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on the leaderboard all the weeks the chart had been revealed.
In addition to multiple performances from Stevens, Sonenclar and Fifth Harmony, Thursday night's finale broadcast also featured Pitbull and One Direction taking the stage.