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Auditions were held in the following cities: In this season over 80,000 attended the auditions in 6 cities.Paula Abdul was absent from the Los Angeles audition.This season also featured Jennifer Hudson, who would subsequently win the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

30 contestants were cut and 57 then advanced to the next stage where they performed solo.

The contestants were then divided into three groups and placed in separate rooms, with one group sent home. The contestants who reached this stage were referred to in the show as the Top 32 finalists.

They were also asked to write original lyrics and melody for one of ten song titles given and perform their song the next day.

After their performance, they were divided into four groups and one group was eliminated.

Back standing – Leah La Belle, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino, John Stevens, Matthews Rogers, Amy Adams, Jon Peter Lewis Seated – Camile Velasco, Jasmine Trias, La Toya London, Diana De Garmo, George Huff 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 De Garmo.

The third season was also shown in Australia on Network Ten about half a week after episodes were shown in the US.

As with the second season, in these rounds, two from each group were selected by public vote to proceed on to the Top 12, and those who failed at any of the previous stages were given a second chance in the wild-card show.

During the wild card show, twelve contestants were invited back to participate.

A prominent auditioner was William Hung, a University of California, Berkeley student, who became a surprise cult figure following his tuneless rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" at the San Francisco audition.

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