Season 3 began in the US on the 19 Jan 2004. Auditions were held in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, and Honolulu.
The early part of the season became well-known for the introduction of William Hung, a student, who became popular following his rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs".
His performance as well as his attitude facing judge Simon Cowell's criticisms (which was a stark contrast to other contestants' confrontational, angry reactions) made him instantly popular, and landed him a record deal with Koch Records.
The final 12 contestants were Amy Adams, Camille Velasco, George Huff, Jasmine Trias, Jennifer Hudson, John Stevens, John Peter Lewis, LaToya London, Leah LeBelle, Mathew Rodgers, runner up Diana DeGarma and winner Fantasia Barrino.
At the time of the finale many celebrities voiced their support for Fantasia: Frankie Muniz, Sharon Osbourne and Ray Romano amongst many others.
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…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, Kelly: "I just hit redial, redial."