May 24, 2012 at 9:29 AM ET
After 132 million votes and a star-studded grand finale show, confetti showered down as Phillip Phillips was crowned the new "American Idol."
Sitting with 6,999 other Idol fans in the Nokia Theatre, there was no denying the vibe was electric. The audience was absolutely going nuts over the superstar guest performances and fancy stage production, but however great the entertainment, fans were still chomping at the bit for the final results, and it's safe to say no one was sitting down when Ryan Seacrest broke the news.
So what was Phillips' reaction, and how is runner-up Jessica Sanchez handling their loss now that the cameras stopped rolling? We got the stars to spill backstage!
It's hard to believe "Idol's" season 11 has come to an end. While the grand finale was packed with performances from Rihanna, Reba McEntire, Neil Diamond, Chaka Khan, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks, Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith (!!!) it was a night full of surprises, including a marriage proposal from season-five contestant Ace Young to third-season runner-up Diana Degarmo!
Although the star power was through the roof, the real point of interest was Sanchez and Phillips, who, after months of competition and hard work, took the stage one final time to hear results. As the crowd erupted celebrating Phillips' win, he abandoned the mic, melting into tears as he walked offstage into his family's waiting arms.
Dazed and still in shock, Phillips, 21, made time to talk after the show and share his feelings about being the new "American Idol."
"I don't really feel anything," Phillips smiled. "Its crazy I'm still a little numb from the whole situation it's just so unreal. Did I think I was gonna win? Heck no. It's so unreal. It hasn't sunk in yet. It's such a blessing to have, I'm kinda ready to try and comprehend it all. After I won, I wasn't thinking about anything. I wasn't thinking about the song, I wasn't wanting to sing or anything. I just started thinking about the journey and how far all of us have come and how far we made it, it's so overwhelming. Jessica has a huge future ahead of her and we're both supportive of each other. I love playing music and I'm just a lucky guy."
Of course not everyone was stoked on the results. Screams of delight battled with those of disappointment over Phillips' win and everyone had their opinion about the outcome, including judge Steven Tyler, who stopped to share his reaction after the show and to help explain his reasoning for Jessica's loss.
"Sometimes you have to realize the rules of this show are every time you gotta bring it," he told us. "And whatever it was (fans) loved the last time, you gotta move it that way. (Jessica's last song) wasn't the best. It didn't show off her voice as we've heard. But for Phillip, he didn't care and he's been vulnerable, I think America loves that. He just don't care and that's beautiful. I said I thought he'd win only because he's so vulnerable and also I think he's going to be a big movie star. I look at his face and I see James Dean."
While Steven doesn't plan on leaving his judging spot anytime soon, he did share his feelings when asked if he would be sad if Jennifer does leave the show.
"Yeah, probably," he said. "Everything evolves. Who am I going to sit next to that makes it really worthwhile?"
As for Jessica, well, the 16-year-old seemed to be taking her loss in stride and expressed genuine happiness for Phillips when we caught up with her backstage.
"I'm kind of relieved that this whole thing is over, but I'm also going to miss everybody here. I'm going to see my 'Idol' family on tour, so I'm thankful for that. I think that Phillip really deserved to win. I'm so happy for him. He's worked harder than any of us. He's had to keep up with his health issues with his kidneys, and I think he's been through it a lot more than us mentally and physically. I don't have any regrets at all. I made top two so that's crazy. I'm happy, I'm content. Now that this whole thing is over and now that I have time to really throw myself into my music, it's going to be all 100-percent me, so I'm excited. I've been in this 'Idol' bubble and now it's popped, so I don't know what's going to happen to me, but I'm excited to find out."
Are you happy Phillips won? Do want Jennifer to stay on the judging panel for next season? Would you audition for the show? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
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