In the ultimate upset, after nearly 100 million votes were cast Tuesday night across the country, Kris Allen, the soft-spoken acoustic guitarist from Conway, Ark., beat out the judges’ favorite and glam rocker Adam Lambert for the title of “American Idol.”
It was a star-studded finale and a fantastic two-hour show as Kris sang along with Keith Urban and Adam took the stage with Kiss, before both of the finalists sang “We Are the Champions” with Queen backing them.
After the win, a weary Kris Allen said he was still in shock.
“I feel tired, but I feel great,” Kris said three hours after the win. “I’m exhausted, but I’m shocked.”
Asked what he said to his wife immediately following the win, Kris said, “We actually didn’t say anything. We were just hugging each other. We can be married now. We haven’t been married for the past nine months.”
Lambert was gracious and kind after the shocking news. “I think that Kris won because he’s a great artist, and I was happy to be a runner up to that,” said Lambert in the press room after the show.”
“I knew it was going to be a close race. He’s incredibly talented, and he’s a good person. We got to do a really good finale, and we’re both going to do great things in the future. For me, it’s not about what happened tonight, it’s about the future.”
I asked Kris why he said “Adam deserves this” after his name was called.
“I actually feel that,” Kris said. “I feel that he deserves this just as much as I do. He’s an amazing, amazing performer, a gifted, gifted guy. And really just an amazing guy. And it was fun doing this with him. It really was.”
Kris said he didn’t feel any pressure to change up songs or do things differently throughout the competition based on Adam getting praise for pushing those kinds of boundaries.
“Adam does his thing and I’m going to do mine,” he said. “That’s what I felt during the whole competition. I was just going to do my thing, and I think it worked.”
Following a fantastic duet with Keith Urban, the obvious question of whether Kris might go the country route came up.
“For me, the country route, I don’t know if I’m going to go that way,” he said. “But it was really fun performing with (Keith Urban). I think he’s great. He was just, like, ‘Let’s go out there and have fun, man.’ And that’s what I want to do, is just have fun.”
Asked who he’d like to collaborate with, “There’s probably plenty of people that I would love to collaborate with,” and one of Kris’ hometown reporters chimed in with, “His wife.” Kris cracked up, stepping away from the mike for a second before saying, “That was good.”
Kris had a simple message to the folks back home in Arkansas, who reportedly cast 38 million of the nearly 100 million votes that came in from across the country Tuesday night.
“Thank you,” Kris said. “Arkansas is a great state and I think that not a lot happens in Arkansas, so I think they were rallying behind me.”
Kris said he’s ready for his life to change.
“‘American Idol’ boot camp kind of gets you ready for that,” he said. “For me, I don’t want to change who I am.”
Finally, he was asked when was the first time he thought he could win the competition.