Winner of season 3 of American Idol, Fantasia Barrino.
Winner of season 3 of American Idol, Fantasia Barrino.
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Fantasia Barrino wins the Third Season of 'American Idol'

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 states of DeGarmo and Barrino respectively -- announced a friendly bet between them over which state's resident would prevail, each wagering a VIP NASCAR ticket package and a shipment of his state's signature fruit. The bet participants were Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a Republican, and North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, a Democrat.

Fantasia Monique Barrino (born June 30, 1984) commonly known as Fantasia, is an American R&B/soul singer, Broadway and television actress who rose to fame as the winner of the third season of the television series American Idol in 2004. She has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. After playing the part of Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple, she is cast to be in the film adaptation of the musical.

In 2004, she released her debut single, I Believe, which debuted at the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100, making Barrino the first recording artist in history to debut at the number one spot with a debut single. Subsequently, she released her debut album, Free Yourself, which went on to be certified Platinum by the RIAA and garnered Barrino four Grammy nominations in 2006. In 2006, she released her second album, Fantasia, which featured the number-one R&B hit When I See U. The album was certified Gold by the RIAA and received three Grammy nominations in 2008. She then played the part of Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple. Her third studio album is set to be released in early 2010.