|(Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)|
LONDON -- Indian actress Shilpa Shetty won the British reality TV show "
The 31-year-old star won the public's support after a fellow contestant hurled racially tinged insults at her in an episode that led to a record 40,000 complaints to media regulators.
"It's truly been a roller coaster ride," Shetty said. "The highs, the lows, each one has taught me so much."
Prime Minister Tony Blair, Treasury chief Gordon Brown, and India's finance minister, P. Chidambaram, have commented on the controversy, which groups said revealed the face of racism in Britain.
Shetty received 63 percent of viewers' telephone votes yesterday, host Davina McCall said. She did not say how many votes were cast.
Contestants on the show are locked in a house for about three weeks and are evicted one by one until someone is chosen as the winner of a cash prize for charity.
Shetty defended fellow contestant Jade Goody, who repeatedly reduced the Indian actress to tears by shouting at her, calling her cooking untrustworthy, mocking her accent, and calling her "Shilpa Poppadum."
Goody became famous after appearing on the non celebrity version of "Big Brother" and has earned an estimated $16 million through television and magazine appearances, an autobiography, and an exercise video.
"She is a little aggressive and hot - tempered, but she's not a racist," Shetty said.
"I don't want people here feeling they welcomed an Indian here, and she created so much trouble. I want to thank the whole of Great Britain for giving me this fantastic opportunity to make my whole country proud."
Shetty has hired publicist Max Clifford to help develop her career in Britain. He estimated that she could earn $2 million in the next year from new contracts after appearing on the show. "It's been a huge success for her because of how she's handled these nasty attacks with dignity," Clifford said.