Simon Cowell

It turns out that the $5 million recording contract that Melanie Amaro received is a relative pittance compared to the $42 million Simon Cowell is getting for The X Factor and other enterprises.

The Guardian in London, citing corporate papers filed last week, reports that Cowell, the show's creator and alpha judge, made that amount in a deal with Sony that set up a joint venture for his entertainment businesses, which include the Fox network amateur-singing competition.

Check out the best and worst of 2011

For its 50 percent share in the new Syco Entertainment, Sony anted up some $49 million and turned over its ownership stakes in two of Mr. Cowell's other entertainment properties. Cowell received $42 million of that money by handing over the shares of another company under his control.

Winter Preview: Add upcoming shows to your Watchlist

The first season of The X Factor culminated last week with the 19-year-old Amaro becoming the champ.

Some 12.45 million viewers watched the finale, well shy of the 20 million that Cowell and Fox executives -- who called the show "the biggest show on television, the biggest show in the world ..." — predicted with great bravado last summer. The numbers were barely half of American Idol's.

Nicole Scherzinger: The X Factor "took a lot out of me"

The show already is slated to come back for Season 2; despite falling short of lofty ratings goals, it did better than most other prime-time programs. But some changes may be coming. There's speculation that judge Nicole Scherzinger won't return, and host Steve Jones could be going the way of Brian Dunkelman.