The 19-year-old took the evening's top award, giving Jackson his only loss of the night, and five trophies in all.
The victories came during a performance-filled show that closed with an S&M-themed, sexually charged performance by Adam Lambert (his performance included him shoving a male dancer's face in his crotch).
Jackson's trophies were accepted by his brother Jermaine, who paid tribute to his late brother by wearing glittery white glove. He accepted two of his brother's awards, thanking "Allah for blessing my entire family" and naming each of his brothers and sisters.
He said Michael's message is more important than any award.
"The message that Michael had will live on forever," he said. "He saw good in everyone and he wanted everyone to do good. He always started with love."
Jackson was named favorite male artist in the pop/rock and soul/R&B categories. His 2003 greatest-hits album, "Number Ones," also won favorite album in both categories.
Jackson's victories were among the highlights of the evening, which also featured a jaw-dropping performance from Lady Gaga and a special award for Whitney Houston.
Lady Gaga, wearing a Vulcan-inspired headdress and vest filled with lights, performed songs from her new album, "The Fame Monster," due in stores next week. She used her microphone to break into a glass case where a grand piano stood. It caught fire when she sat down to play.
The American Music Awards honor the year's top-selling artists in eight popular genres. But even more than awards, the AMAs are about performances, and they came back to back to back Sunday.
The Black Eyed Peas, voted favorite pop/rock band, energized the crowd when they performed two of the year's most popular hits: "I Got A Feeling" and "Boom Boom Pow."
Dancers wearing outfits made from stereo speakers shared the stage with Fergie, Taboo, apl.de.ap and will.i.am, who wore a pompadour wig. The high-energy medley melted into a Nirvana sample at the end, with will.i.am rocking on guitar.
Rihanna returned to the AMA stage Sunday, sporting blonde hair, a skintight, white peek-a-boo bodysuit and a tattoo down the front of her neck that read "Rated R," the name of her new album, out next week.
Janet Jackson opened the show with a medley of some of the biggest hits from her long career - all tracks that appear on her new greatest-hits collection, also called "Number Ones."
Alicia Keys and Jay-Z dueted on their ode to New York City. Shakira was flanked by a dozen dancers in tiny black bodysuits as she sang her new single. Kelly Clarkson performed a stripped down version of her hit "Already Gone," backed by a string quartet.
Jennifer Lopez added a boxing motif to her dance-filled performance, but she slipped during a tricky move and landed on her bottom.
Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong said the show left him star-struck.
"When you see all the talent that's in the room" like Jay-Z and Lady Gaga, he said backstage, "it's like holy moly, these are huge people."
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