A small-town local boy became a superstar Wednesday, as Lee DeWyze was crowned the “American Idol” on the FOX show's season finale. He beat out hippie mom and longtime favorite Crystal Bowersox.
"I can’t believe this," DeWyze said, near to tears. "I’m so happy right now, I’ve never been happier in my life."
The lead-up to the big result was chock-full of performances, with guest artists ranging from Hall & Oats to Bret Michaels, Alanis Morissette to infamous "Idol"-reject Larry Platt reprising his original song, "Pants on the Ground."
The rest of the time was spent celebrating Simon Cowell’s departure from the show.
Video montages highlighted the best of Cowell’s witty one-liners and memorable moments from his nine-season run. Even ex-judge Paula Abdul showed up to bid Cowell farewell.
One of the show’s most touching moments came when, one by one, each season’s winner came out to sing together, followed shortly by the top 12 contestants from all nine seasons.
But ultimately, the night was about DeWyze and Bowersox.
In the show’s final minutes, the two Chicago locals clung to each other as host Ryan Seacrest announced the results. Back home in Mt. Prospect, thousands gathered to watch the results on a big screen outside the village hall.
Confetti flew as DeWyze learned he won, and took to the stage to perform what will become his first single, a cover of U2’s "Beautiful Day."
Paint salesman no more, DeWyze has guaranteed himself a recording contract and a sure-to-be successful career.
Lee, we’ll see you on the Billboard charts soon.