Who Won The X Factor USA? 2011’s Biggest Reality Show Winners
2011's reality TV champions won everything from love and money to a guest spot on a little show called Glee. Read on for a rundown of the actors, actresses, singers, dancers, chefs, models, designers, and regular guys and gals who beat the competition to take their rightful place in the winners' circle.
18-year-old Melanie Amaro was an obvious frontrunner from the moment she opened her mouth to sing Beyonce's "Listen" in her Miami audition. Although runner-up Josh Krajcik put up a tough fight, it wasn't a shock that Melanie came away with the $5 million recording contract and title of America's first X Factor winner. We look forward to seeing where this gospel-loving, Caribbean cutie's career take will her!
Emily Maynard, The BachelorSeason 15 (ABC) Two-time Bachelor Brad Womack, a Texas bar owner, chose sweet, Southern single mom Emily Maynard over Seattle gal Chantal O'Brien in the Season 15 finale. Brad was absolutely smitten, and Emily accepted — but not without reservations. Emily and Brad's relationship got off to rocky start even before the Bachelor finale hit the airwaves on March 14 — and their long-distance relationship (she stayed in Charlotte, N.C., he lives and works in Austin, Texas) quickly crumbled from there. Within months the two were over for good, which begs the question: Will ABC bring Brad back for round three?
Holly Durst and Michael Stagliano, Bachelor Pad 2 (ABC) Formerly engaged couple Holly Durst and Michael Stagliano took home the $250,000 prize in Bachelor Pad's Season 2 finale, beating out Graham Bunn and Michelle Money for the win. Despite being fairly fresh off their breakup, Michael, a contestant from Season 5 of The Bachelorette, and Holly, a contestant from Season 12 of The Bachelor, managed to pull together as a team and eke out a win. As an added bonus, Holly met her new fiancé on the show. Holly and Blake Julian, a dentist who competed for Ashley Hebert’s heart on The Bachelorette Season 7, announced their engagement on the Bachelor Pad season finale.
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Damian McGinty and Samuel Larsen, The Glee Project (Oxygen) In a surprising twist, Damian McGinty and Samuel Larsen won the inaugural season of The Glee Project, earning them each seven-episode guest arcs on Season 3 of Glee. Damian, a former member of the Irish singing group Celtic Thunder, has already popped up on the show as Irish exchange student Rory Flanagan, and his run could be extended beyond the guaranteed seven episodes. Co-winner Samuel will be stirring up trouble sometime in Season 3, playing Puck's (Mark Salling) cousin. Unfortunately, Glee fans will have to wait until the second half of the season to see the dreadlock-coifed crooner.
Robert "Boston Rob" Mariano, Survivor: Redemption Island (CBS) Reality TV pro Robert "Boston Rob" Mariano beat out Phillip "Special Agent" Sheppard and Natalie Tenerelli (what, no nickname?) for the big win on Season 22 of Survivor. Filmed in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, Redemption Island featured two veteran players — Russell Hantz and Boston Rob — as well as 16 new contestants. Prior to Redemption Island, Boston Rob had already competed on three seasons of Survivor (Marquesas, All-Stars, and Heroes vs. Villains) and one season of The Amazing Race, with his wife, Amber Brkich. Five seasons of reality TV proved to be the charm: Along with the $1 million grand prize, Rob pocketed $100,000 as the fan-selected "Sprint Player of the Season."
Sophie Clarke, Survivor: South Pacific (CBS) In a season that was set up to be a showdown between two returning players, 22-year-old medical student Sophie Clarke outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted everyone else to win $1 million. Those two returning challengers were among those who fell by the wayside: Yes, Sophie slayed the dragon slayer (Benjamin “Coach” Wade) and beat the challenge king, Ozzy Lusth.
Brittani Kline, America’s Next Top Model Cycle 16 (The CW) Back in May, Modeltestant Brittani Kline "smized" for the prize and earned the title of America’s Next Top Model, taking home an IMG contract, a $100,000 endorsement deal with CoverGirl, and a Vogue Italia fashion spread in the Cycle 16 finale.
Lisa D’Amato, America’s Next Top Model: All-Stars (The CW) Rapper Lisa D'Amato, a Cycle 5 veteran, beat out Allison Harvard on December 7 to win America's Next Top Model: All-Stars. Lisa's prize included a fashion spread in Vogue Italia, a $100,000 CoverGirl contract, an Express fashion campaign, and a chance to be a guest correspondent for entertainment news program Extra. In a shocking and unexpected twist, Cycle 17 front-runner Angelea Prestonwas disqualified during the finale, leaving Lisa and Allison to duke it out for Top Model status.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson, Dancing With the Stars Season 12 (ABC) Proving that athletes really do have what it takes, former NFL football player Hines Ward and his pro partner Kym Johnson danced their way to a Mirror Ball Trophy on Season 12 of Dancing With the Stars. Kirstie Alley and Chelsea Kane came in second and third place, respectively. Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live after the finale, Hines dished, "I've never danced before, so for me to walk away with this trophy is an amazing feat. It takes a whole team to win the Super Bowl, but winning this dancing competition, I owe everything to Kim. She’s an amazing teacher."
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff, Dancing With the Stars Season 13 (ABC) Along with pro partner Karina Smirnoff, Iraq War hero and All My Children actor J.R. Martinezwaltzed home with a Season 13 Mirror Ball Trophy. Top-three contestants Rob Kardashian and Ricki Lake came close, but it was J.R.'s talent, drive, and winning personality that won the hearts of fans. In his post-finale interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, J.R. admitted, laughing, "I didn't know what Dancing With the Stars was when I was in Iraq!"
Richard Blais, Top Chef Season 8: All-Stars (Bravo) Cheftestant Richard Blais, who dominated Top Chef Season 4 before choking in the finale, redeemed himself when he out-cooked Mike Isabella for the All-Stars win. Richard knocked the final four-course tasting menu challenge out of the park.
Floyd Cardoz, Top Chef Masters Season 3 (Bravo) Floyd Cardoz, executive chef of NYC's North End Grill, nailed the final Season 3 challenge and took home $100,000 for his charity of choice, Young Scientist Cancer Research Fund at Mount Sinai Medical School. Restaurateur Mary Sue Milliken may have won more challenges throughout the course of the season, but it was Floyd who delivered the goods when it mattered most.
Chris Hanmer, Top Chef Just Desserts Season 2 (Bravo) Chris Hanmer, owner of The School of Pastry Design in Las Vegas, turned his sweet tooth into Top Chef gold when he won Season 2 of the franchise's delicious spinoff, Just Desserts. After the finale aired, Chris tweeted his appreciation: "Thank you all for your support! It's been an amazing journey. I am honored to have gotten to work with such awesome chefs."
Javier Colon, The Voice (NBC) From "Time After Time" to "Stitch by Stitch," sweet-'n'-smooth crooner Javier Colon charmed the pants off coaches and viewers alike throughout The Voice's freshman season. So it came as no surprise when he took home the $100,000 grand prize and a Universal Republic recording contract during the June 29 finale.
Pentatonix, The Sing-Off Season 3 (NBC) For their finale face-off against the all-male Dartmouth Aires, Pentatonix, a five-person a cappella group from Arlington, Texas, busted out a unique arrangement of "Eye of the Tiger." Apparently, they had it, because their rendition earned them $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony.
Olivia Ward, The Biggest Loser: Couples 4 (NBC) Olivia Ward and her sister, Hannah Curlee, signed on for Biggest Loser: Couples 4 (Season 11) as a team, but Olivia lost three more pounds than her sis and ultimately took home the $250,000 prize. While Olivia, an opera singer and plastic surgery office manager, was busy shedding 129 pounds off her 261-pound frame, her husband shed 100 pounds back home. Now that's devotion!
John Rhode, The Biggest Loser Season 12 (NBC) Dropping an impressive 220 pounds, John Rhode — who used to tip the scales at 445 pounds — won Season 12 of The Biggest Loser on December 13. And what's better than turning your life around? Pocketing $250,000. The 41-year-old special ed teacher gushed to Us Weekly, "I loooove my new body. I feel great. I've got a whole new attitude, a whole new optimism. I put myself to the limit and now I know that I can do anything!"
Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang, The Amazing Race Season 19 (CBS) Engaged Chicago couple Ernie Halvorsen and Cindy Chiang jetted around the world to come in first on Season 19 of The Amazing Race, edging out Jeremy Cline & Sandy Draghi and Marcus & Amani Pollard for the win. In a generous twist, the twosome plans to use their $1 million prize to fund a charity to provide education to poor children throughout the world.
John Rich, The Celebrity Apprentice 4 (NBC) Country singer John Rich, who competed on Donald Trump's cutthroat reality series for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, came out on top of a cast that included Meat Loaf, Lil Jon, Star Jones, La Toya Jackson, NeNe Leakes, Gary Busey, and Richard Hatch. As The Donald's top pick, John pocketed $250,000 for his chosen charity.
Anya Ayoung-Chee, Project Runway Season 9 (Lifetime) Anya Ayoung-Chee, also known as Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe 2008, learned to sew just four months before competing on Project Runway Season 9. Going head-to-head with her fellow finalists in a 10-piece runway challenge for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Anya proved herself a cut above the competition. In addition to the $100,000 grand prize, an editorial spread in Marie Claire, the opportunity to sell her line (Pilar) on Piperlime.com, and a $50,000 technology suite from Hewlett-Packard, Anya grabbed a $10,000 bonus for being voted fan favorite.