Susan Boyle's reality show journey ended Saturday with a second-place finish to a dance troupe called "Diversity" on the final of the television show "Britain's Got Talent."
Boyle was gracious. "The best people won," she said.
After the announcement, Boyle curtsied to the audience and gave them her signature hip shake.
The winner earns a £100,000 ($159,000) prize and the chance to perform before Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show.
During her finals performance, the 48-year-old amateur singer looked polished, wearing a sparkling, floor-length gown. She returned to the song that made her an internet sensation - "I Dreamed A Dream" from "Les Miserables."
She appeared more polished and animated than in previous performances, but uncomfortable during banter with the judges after her song.
The issue was never whether Susan Boyle could sing. The issue became whether she could stand up to the pressure and live up to the hype, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips.
She had bristled when some objected to her new hairdo and clothes and she had reportedly turned on some pestering fans using words she didn't learn in choir practice, reports Phillips.
Boyle acknowledged she had felt the pressure in the weeks building up to her performance.
"Win or lose, you had the guts to come back here tonight, face your critics - and you beat them," judge Simon Cowell told Boyle.
To win, the amateur singer must have outshone nine other competitors on live television Saturday in front of millions of viewers in Britain and a worldwide Internet audience.
Boyle was up against a host of everyman acts determined to find stardom on reality television, including Shaheen Jafargholi, a 12-year-old whose voice has been compared to Michael Jackson's, Hollie Steel, a 10-year-old who turned in a solid performance after a tearful semifinal meltdown, and a grandfather-grandaughter singing duo.
And then there was "Stavros Flatley," a father-son act who parodied "The Lord of the Dance" by romping around the stage shirtless, in blond wigs and leather pants, combining Greek dancing and Irish beats.
They, too, received standing ovations from the judges - and Amanda Holden confessed that 40-year-old Demetrios Demetriou and his 13-year-old son Lagi were her favorite act.
"I want you to win," she said. "I love you."
Cowell called their act "genius."
But it was Boyle whom millions of people tuned in to watch.
She became a favorite to win the competition after her first appearance in April. Her frumpy appearance drew condescending looks from the studio audience and the judges but her soaring, evocative voice silenced the doubters and turned her into an Internet sensation.
The first moment Boyle sang was one that has been viewed millions of times, the fifth-most watched clip in history on YouTube. And it was a moment that went down in reality show history.
During that performance, as Boyle hit a high note at the end of the song's first line, Cowell's eyebrows rose along with her voice. The audience went mad. And a star was born.
She has since appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show." Demi Moore tweeted about Boyle on her Twitter feed. She dominated Britain's tabloids - but there were signs Boyle was feeling the heat.
She lost her cool this week during a confrontation with two reporters, and the police intervened. One contest judge said she contemplated pulling out of the competition to soothe her frazzled nerves.
British bookmaker William Hill offered 10-11 odds on her victory Saturday. The betting service had briefly lowered its odds on Boyle when the reports of erratic behavior seemed to show "there might be a chink in her armor," according to spokesman Rupert Adams.
But he said William Hill "got absolutely hammered" with bets and quickly went back to predicting a Boyle victory.
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