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Thomas Rhett, wife Lauren Akins celebrate ACM Awards win

Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akins talked about his "surreal" Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year award that he shared with Carrie Underwood.
/ Source: TODAY

The main word that comes to mind for Thomas Rhett when thinking about his shared entertainer of the year award at Wednesday night's Academy of Country Music Awards is "surreal."

As for Lauren Akins, she shared her pride in her husband's historic win when he called her over to join his interview on TODAY Wednesday from their Utah home.

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"I think we're both still processing," Akins said. "Just watching years and years of him put so much work and energy and love toward country music, and the people who come to the shows and all the people who work with him and what they've done to make this happen, it feels like finally after all these years it's his dream come true, like the ultimate dream come true.

"It's so cool to watch. I'm just so proud of him and everybody."

For the first time in the history of an awards show that began in 1966, entertainer of the year was split between two performers. Rhett and Carrie Underwood shared the award. The show was spread across three separate venues in Nashville, Tennessee, with no crowds due to precautions during the pandemic.

"2020 man!” Underwood laughed while accepting her award after Rhett.

"Just watching it back just now on y'all's show, I'm just reliving it again, and it's just amazing that that even happened in the first place," Rhett said on TODAY. "Carrie's statement, '2020 man,' is so great."

Presenter Keith Urban could only shake his head and smile as he announced that there was a tie for the ACM's most prestigious award.

"It was just nuts," Rhett said. "I was standing backstage, and I heard Keith say, 'You're not gonna believe this, it's a two-way tie.' For the first time in the history of the awards show, that's happening.

"I've been doing this now I guess for about eight or nine years, and I'm accepting the award with the legendary, iconic Carrie Underwood. It was the most surreal moment of my life. So happy for her. It's just amazing."

While the shared award and the changes to the show wrought by the pandemic made it much different than any other year, it didn't diminish the moment for Rhett.

"This is an award that I have been dreaming about since I began," he said. "Me and my band have put so much work into our show and just trying to make it as good as it can possibly be. And then last night, it just came and went so fast, I think I'm gonna need a week to process it to be honest with you.

"The word is 'surreal.' That's all I got to say."