Ukraine’s Jamala was the surprise winner in the 61st Eurovision contest, narrowly beating out favorite Russia, which came in third, and second-place Australia.
Israel and its singer, Hovi Star, didn’t make it into the final top ten. Star was ranked 14th by the contest’s complex jury and audience voting system.
“We feel great. Israel got 12 points from Germany, and that’s something that hasn’t happened since 2005,” Star told the Ynet news site from Stockholm, where the contest was being held in the city’s Globe Arena.
“Thank you to everyone for the support. We’re happy.”
Hair stylist Star, whose given name is Hovav Sekulets, sang “Made of Stars.”
— Hovi Star (@MrHoviStar) May 14, 2016
But Star was not the highest-ranked Israeli in the contest.
France’s contender, singer and Israeli dentist Amir Haddad, was a popular choice in the international singing contest, coming in sixth with the song “J’ai cherché.”
France’s Haddad is a French-born Israeli who competed in Israel’s 2006 season of “A Star is Born” and went on to perform in the French “The Voice.”
The last time Israel won the song contest was in 1998, when transgender singer Dana International sang “Diva” before appreciative crowds.
Ukraine’s Jamala, whose full name is Susana Jamaladinova, performed “1944,” an entry that stood out amid songs about love and desire. With somber lyrics it recalled how Crimean Tatars, including her great-grandmother, were deported to central Asia in 1944 by Josef Stalin’s regime during World War II.
The show was broadcast live in Europe, China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand and, for the first time, the United States. Last year’s contest reached nearly 200 million viewers globally.
AFP and AP contributed to this report.