After a nationwide vote of more than 65 million votes in total--more than the first two seasons combined--Fantasia Barrino won the "American Idol" title beating out Diana DeGarmo. The third season was also shown in Australia on Network Ten about half a week after episodes were shown in the US. Leah LaBelle is the first contestant to advance to the finals via Wild Card then get eliminated in the first week of the finals.
As a nod to the "Did Clay see the card?" controversy in AI2, Ryan Seacrest was instructed to memorize the winner's name and the vote margin and was given a blank card to hold while reporting the results. However, in a post-show interview with USA Today, Diana DeGarmo admitted that she had figured out that she had not won when the contestants were going over the schedule for the finale and she saw she would be singing "I Believe" (the winner's single) before the results were announced. Realizing that she would not be scheduled to sing a song she would have to sing again minutes later if she were announced as the winner, she correctly deduced that she had lost and Fantasia had won.
At the time of the finale many celebrities voiced their support for Fantasia: Frankie Muniz, Sharon Osbourne, Ray Romano, Amy Yasbeck, Nicole Kidman, Lori Loughlin, Patti LaBelle, Andy Richter, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Holly Robinson Peete, Giuliana Rancic, Toni Braxton, Ben Stiller, Redman (TV Guide), Method Man (TV Guide) Richard Schiff, Kate Hudson (On the Tonight Show), Lea Thompson and Mo'Nique.
Henry Winkler said "You've got incredible judges, Simon speaks the truth, I always agree with him. And Ryan is really good at what he does, but Fantasia," he smiles, "there's something in her that is bigger than anything. We voted for her about 250 times!"
Kelly Clarkson is quoted in the June 14th, 2004 People Magazine as saying she voted for Fantasia: "I just hit redial, redial."
Prior to the results show, the governors of Georgia and North Carolina -- the home s...