Eurovision winner greeted by ecstatic Portuguese nation

Portugal's Salvador Sobral celebrates after winning the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, Kiev, Ukraine, May 13, 2017. He finished with 758 points, well clear of Kostov and the Moldovan entry, the Sunstroke Project.

Thrust to fame in 2009 with the Portuguese television show "Idolos", the country's equivalent of "American Idol", Sobral struggled with the sudden media exposure, even halting his singing career for a while.

Ukraine has won the competition twice, including previous year with a song about the mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea by Josef Stalin, and its winners will perform on Saturday. Portugal remained first after their performance, but at the end when all acts had performed, Bulgaria took over the first place with the bookmakers. The contest has since grown to into a mega-production; this year's show featured acts from 42 countries, including non-European countries like Israel and Australia. But this year's Russian entrant, Yuliya Samoylova, was blocked from competing by Ukraine because she had toured in Crimea after Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula.

This year, Ukraine has used the contest to take tentative steps to soften the climate of homophobia prevalent in the ex-Soviet Union. According to the country's law, Ukraine may ban entry for any foreigners who had visited post-referendum Crimea without a permit from Kiev.

The song, performed by Jamala, was possibly one of the most controversial winners in the competition's history.

But Ukraine was determined to host as expected and organizers announced earlier this month that all the tickets for the grand final had sold out. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko canceled his visit to the final after deadly shelling in the east of the country Saturday, according to his official Facebook account.

'The absence of Russia has had a really negative effect on the contest, ' said Artur Gasparyan, showbiz correspondent for Russia's Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, one of the few Russian journalists in Kiev.

The victor is determined through a mix of voting from viewers at home and the opinions of music industry professionals from each represented country, through a complex format meant to maximize the chances for a dramatic reveal of the victor.

As is custom in the contest, geopolitics played a part.

The Eurovision Song Contest offers its fans glitz (or at least glitter), glamour, politics, intrigue, increasingly limited lessons in how to count in French and, of course, music. Ireland have won most often - seven times in all - following by Sweden.

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