American Idol crowns its winner
Scotty McCreery has won American Idol - beating Lauren Alaina.
The pair, the youngest duo ever to compete on Idol, which is in its 10th season, drew a record 122 million-plus viewer votes after their final performance.
The 17-year-old winner said: "I never in my wildest dreams....I've got to thank the Lord first ... he got me here."
Exuberant, big-voiced Lauren, 16, performed on Tuesday's final sing-off despite a vocal cord injury that needed medical treatment. She received raves from the judges, who said she won the night, in what was the first all-country finale.
But the consistently popular Scotty, who'd never been at risk of elimination, claimed the title and a record contract.
The teenager seemed overwhelmed as he took the stage for a celebratory version of I Love You This Big, halting to embrace his parents in the audience, Lauren and others. Then he playfully stuck his tongue out, trying to catch falling confetti.
"It felt like a dream," he said backstage in his dressing room. "It still hasn't sunk in yet, and I don't think it will for a while. I'm on top of the world right now."
His victory continued a recent pattern: He's the fourth male in a row to win the Fox TV contest, with 2007's Jordin Sparks, 17, the last female Idol.
Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, two of the four female winners, have proved the winners with the most successful recording careers.
This season's vote total was more than three-quarters-of-a-billion. For Fox, it's affirmation there's still life in the series that's had a long ratings reign as number one but has steadily dipped in weekly viewership.