The X Factor is an American reality television music competition created by Simon Cowell and produced by FremantleMedia North America and SYCOtv, a partnership between Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment, on Fox. Based on the original UK show, and an addition to the The X Factor franchise, the series finds new singing talent, drawn from public auditions, and they compete against each other for votes. The winner is determined by the show's viewers via telephone, Internet, and SMS text voting, and is awarded a recording contract with Cowell's record label Syco Music, worth $5 million in seasons one and two, and $1 million in season 3. The winners were Melanie Amaro in season 1 and Tate Stevens in season 2. The US version of the show began airing on September 21, 2011, and has since aired annually from September through December The series employs a panel of judges who critique the contestants' performances. Each contestant is assigned to one of four categories. The group acts are one category and the others are based on age or gender. For example, in season three the categories are girls, boys, groups, and over-25-year-olds. Each judge is assigned to one of the categories,and acts as mentor to the contestants in his or her category, helping to decide song choices, styling, and staging, while also judging contestants from the other categories after each of the live performances. They compete with each other to try to get one of the contestants in their category to win the competition, thus making them the winning judge.