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STEVIE WONDER; FACTOR RESULT Pub crooner beats rivals G4 and claims pounds 10m album deal.


CROONER Steve Brookstein last night won X Factor - thanks to being slagged off by Sharon Osbourne.

At one point the 35-year-old pub singer was trailing operatic boyband G4 by 100,000 votes in the ITV pop reality show.

But he gained a surge of votes after manager of rival acts Sharon Osbourne told viewers: "I have never been a Steve fan. He's full of crap, an average singer."

G4, who'd been ahead for two hours in the polls, were overtaken in the final ten minutes. Show insiders believe the comments by Sharon - who has been having a war of words with Steve's manager Simon Cowell - backfired disastrously.

They think it prompted fans to feel sorry for Steve and vote for him.

After winning, Steve told The People: "This is the greatest day of my life." Although he forgot the lines to his final tune and single - a cover of Against All Odds - he is set to make pounds 10million with a six album deal.

Steve, from Mitchum, Surrey, said: "This is what I've worked for the last 18 years to achieve. I cannot believe it."

Incredibly the choked singer fluffed his lines again when he performed the tune a second time as the winner.

He struggled, saying: "I can't sing - I can't do this."

His Scots model girlfriend Eileen Hunter burst into tears during the song. He celebrated his triumph by downing a magnum of champagne with pals backstage at the final at London's Wembley Studio.

And, bubbling over with delight, he then whisked Eileen off to a plush hotel for a night of passion.

Steve admitted: "Eileen is a top bird - a top lady. The more the show went on, the more I analysed our relationship - and the more I realised how strong it is getting.

"We have got a lot of time to make up on, now the final is out of the way."

Simon Cowell - who snogged TV host Kate Thornton after the success - said: "Steve was really nervous, but he gave a brilliant performance."

But rival manager Louis Walsh was less charitable. He said: "In a year's time Steve'll be performing at the end of the pier in Blackpool."

ITV bosses estimated over 12million viewers tuned into the show and a further 8 million people voted, sending phonelines into meltdown.

Steve got standing ovations for his tunes which also included Higher and Higher and Smile. His success comes after more than 17 years of trying to bag a recording deal with music firms.

Steve told The People: "I really thought I wasn't going to make the shortlist back in July. I want to thank the people who picked up the phone and voted for me. Without them I wouldn't be doing this."

"I'm shocked still by the media spotlight. But I want to show everyone I am a talented singer."

Steve has already netted pounds 20,000 for recording Against All Odds - due out in January. He effectively banked pounds 250,000 within minutes of his victory. That's made up of pounds 75,000 payment in advance for taking part in the X Factor tour, a pounds 100,000 signing on payment for the first album and a pounds 75,000 loyalty fee for future merchandising.

In the coming years he can also expect:

-pounds 3.3MILLION in album sale advances.

-pounds 2MILLION for further UK tours.

-pounds 5MILLION from sponsorship and merchandising.

Meanwhile runners up G4 - who performed opera hit Nessun Dorma, Bohemian Rhaposdy and Creep by Radiohead - vowed they would still become stars.

Lead singer Jonathan Ansell said: "We gave it our all, but Steve was fantastic - he deserved to win."

- ONE lucky punter from London won pounds 4,000 after placing pounds 1,000 on Steve six weeks ago.


COWELL: Big contracts; LOSERS: Boy band G4 missed their chance of glory; FAST TRACK: Steve Brookstein is singing all the way to the bank
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2004
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