- Associated Press - Monday, December 13, 2010

LONDON (AP) - The “X Factor” finale has drawn a record audience in Britain as the Simon Cowell-led musical competition prepares for its debut in the United States.

Painter and decorator Matt Cardle is the newly crowned X Factor champion and is launching his recording career at age 27 with the release “When We Collide” in hopes of landing the top spot on the British Christmas hit charts.

Cardle started his campaign Monday with a London publicity blitz. He is just beginning his recording career and is expected to earn several million pounds (dollars) next year.

ITV says the “X Factor” finale drew nearly 20 million viewers, making it the largest non-sports audience in Britain in the last decade.

The show has been growing in popularity in recent years.