And the American Idol is … Phillip Phillips!
The Leesburg, Georgia, native beat 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez for the Season 11 title Wednesday night.
A record-breaking 132 million votes were cast for the two finalists.
Sanchez, of Chula Vista, California, was a gracious runner-up. She immediately embraced the stunned Phillips after Ryan Seacrest delivered his famous line: “And the winner of American Idol is …”
The technically-stunning singer went out with a bang, performing And I Am Telling You with none other than Jennifer Holliday, before the winner was announced.
If only she had sung the show-stopping song Tuesday night. Many critics felt the teen was slighted with three ballads that didn’t showcase her powerful range when it counted.
But 21-year-old Phillips, a former pawn-shop worker, took the singing championship after impressing the judges in the last few weeks of the competition with unique performances. His stirring rendition of Home on Tuesday’s finale might have sealed the deal for him.
After his name was announced, Phillips grabbed his guitar and began singing what will be his first single as Idol, before tearfully heading down the stairs and into the arms of his waiting family.