Zora wins! Bondage-flick actresses do not necessarily triumph over substitute teachers, even when competing for the affection of really stupid men! God bless the Fox network! God bless America!

Evan Marriott, lunkheaded, hunky star of Fox reality hit "Joe Millionaire," picked Zora Andrich, the homecoming queen-turned-substitute teacher everyone had been rooting for, over mortgage broker assistant-turned-bondage flick actress Sarah Kozer last night on the show's two-hour finale.

"I have chosen you," the handsome Marriott whispered while gazing gently at the upturned face of the raven-haired beauty.

"Are you serious? That's so cool!" gushed our heroine.

And the big twist we'd been promised at the very end? The producers of the reality hit awarded the couple $1 million at the end of the show. "Smile and enjoy it. You're $500,000 richer -- and you've met me!" Marriott told the stunned teacher and caregiver to the elderly.

Sarah, meanwhile, appeared devastated when Evan broke the news that he: A) did not have $50 million; and B) had not picked her.

"When it got down to it, Sarah was into Joe Millionaire, not Evan Marriott," Marriott explained. Okay, maybe he's not so stupid after all.

"I'm [annoyed]," Sarah hissed at the previously rejected Melissa M., whom the producers thoughtfully brought back for the finale so that Sarah would have someone to console her. As Sarah packed her bags to leave, she wondered aloud whether Marriott had rejected her because she'd made out with him in the woods several episodes earlier; Melissa assured her that was not the case.

Six weeks ago, Zora, Sarah and 18 other women had traveled to France to compete for the heart and bank account of Marriott, who they were told had inherited $50 million. Marriott, Fox said, was actually a construction worker who made only $19,000 a year last year. (Over the course of the show, we've learned that Marriott has also worked as a model and appeared on a soap opera.)

Fox Entertainment chief Gail Berman had promised TV critics that everyone would be happy with the outcome of the show -- and by jingo, she was right.

It was almost as though viewers had been manipulated into rooting for Zora from the get-go. But of course Fox would never do a thing like that to its millions of loyal viewers. No way.

(Of course, there was that first episode in which lovely Zora was briefly left with no gown for the ball because her 19 Evil Stepsisters had snatched all of them up lickety-split. And then there was Zora's Disney-esque date with handsome Evan, which ended badly when the Three Surviving Evil Stepsisters, Mojo, Sarah and Melissa M., crashed the hot tub wearing various thonglike scraps, causing lovely Zora, who was modestly covered in a T-shirt she'd put on over her bikini, to flee in shame.)

But before any news was made, viewers had to sit through an hour of the rationalizations of the loser chicks in "The Secrets of the Women of Joe Millionaire." Marriott did not pick them because, variously: "He was intimidated by my beauty," "He likes big breasts -- the final five were all big boobie girls," "All of the dresses for the ball were ugly and I did not know how to choose between an ugly and an uglier dress," and, of course, "I begged to be booted because no amount of money in the world would make me want to date Evan."

Viewers also learned a bit more crucial information about the two finalists. Sarah explained that she acted in bondage and fetish flicks because she had a "stupendous amount of school loans." Plus, she noted, in Los Angeles a girl can't turn around without getting "some lurid offer."

"To me it was no big deal," she said.

Zora, meanwhile, confessed that she really enjoys taking care of the elderly and that she planned to sell at least one of those necklaces Evan has awarded her and will send the money to an aunt to pay for her cancer treatment.

Fox was expecting big numbers for last night's finale, even though it aired opposite not one but two Michael Jackson documentaries.

ABC reran "Living With Michael Jackson," which pulled in 27 million viewers on Feb. 5, and NBC offered "Michael Jackson Unmasked," its much-ballyhooed "Dateline" special about the pop performer's face.

Fox took no chances that the climax of Zora's fairy tale romance would get kayoed by Makeover Man: The Fabulous Fox Marketing Machine had shifted into overdrive of late, planting a plethora of Evan Marriott sightings in the media and Evan Marriott conspiracy theories on the Web.

Marriott was observed everywhere, from the set of "American Idol" to Fashion Week, where he was seen flirting with President Bush's supermodel niece, Lauren Bush, at the Tommy Hilfiger fashion show (now there's an oxymoron). The reality stud was also spotted at a trendy club getting it on with a porn star -- or at least some girl with really long hair, according to various accounts.

Fox suits were confident their love story would prevail in the ratings, even though hordes of die-hard "Joe Millionaire" fans had vowed on Web sites to boycott last night's episode after the network burned them by reneging on a promise to reveal Marriott's choice on last week's show.

Virtually every TV listing published in America last Monday informed readers that Marriott would pick one of the two finalists during that night's two-hour episode -- because Fox had lied to all of the hard-working people who put out those TV listings and told them that that was the case.

"So . . . you thought he was gonna make his choice last night. . . . Sorrrry!!! It's called teasing folks," a rep for our local Fox station said the next morning in an e-mail crowing about the enormous ratings WTTG had bagged with the lie. (On several occasions during "Joe Millionaire's" run, WTTG scored the show's biggest ratings among Fox stations in the country's larger TV markets.)

"It's next week when Evan will choose his lady love and come clean on the big lie in an unforgettable two-hour finale!" the rep continued gleefully.

Last week the network duped more than 24 million viewers into watching two solid hours of de{acute}ja{grv} vu all over again: Evan driving the backhoe, Evan riding a horse, lovely Zora and the 19 Evil Stepsisters learning that Marriott had inherited $50 million two years ago, lovely Zora first meeting Evan at the ball and asking him shyly whether she had tangerine stuck between her teeth, lovely Zora and the remaining Evil Stepsisters being forced to shovel manure from the floor of the horse stable, Evan complaining that making out with various Evil Stepsisters triggers guilt that is "eating my brains out," Alleged Butler Paul Hogan swilling Fox brandy, Evil Stepsister Extraordinaire Mojo committing slow reality-TV suicide by whipping Marriott at fencing and then giving him a poem about their getting married, Stupido Evil Stepsister Melissa M. telling Marriott that if she had his kind of money she would use it to travel to a Third World country to bathe babies because she's a "mercenary" kinda gal, Alleged Butler Hogan swilling more Fox brandy, Evil Stepsister Sarah calculating how many carats are in the emerald necklace that Evan awarded her for lasting three rounds, Sarah sleeping in the diamond necklace she received for going five rounds, Evan and Sarah slipping into the night to make out, followed by more of what little there is of Evan's brains getting eaten out. Good times.

Prize guy: Evan "Joe Millionaire" Marriott with the winner, Zora "Zora" Andrich.