North Carolina’s own Scotty McCreery trumped fellow teen crooner Lauren Alaina to become the new American Idol on Wednesday night’s season finale.
At only 17, Scotty becomes the second youngest winner of the competition, joining Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who was the same age when she picked up the title in 2007. The deep-voiced Bible-thumper now joins Carrie Underwood as just the second winner in A.I. history with a speciality in country music. (It’s also worth noting that country’s been good to Carrie; she recently ended Kelly Clarkson’s reign as the best-earning Idol ever…)
“Never in my wildest dreams. I got to thank the Lord first. He got me here,” McCreery said after host Ryan Seacrest proclaimed him the winner of the television talent competition.
A grocery store clerk from Garner, North Carolina, McCreery sang “I Love You This Big,” his first single, before a packed audience on the live broadcast — and then tried to catch the confetti raining down on him in his mouth.
A record 122 million votes were cast by phone, text message and online after McCreery and Alaina gave their final performances on Tuesday. The results were announced following a two-hour star-studded live broadcast that included performances from Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Judas Priest, and Idol judges Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.