Crystal Bowersox may have dominated Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough to stop the momentum of Lee DeWyze. If anything, his last three performances changed his status from slam-dunk front-runner to underdog.
And voters love an underdog.
Lee won the title of American Idol last night, going from suburban paint sales clerk to national pop-culture hero overnight.
How did it feel?
"I don't know!" a teary-eyed Lee shouted to Ryan Seacrest. "This is amazing. Thank you guys so much. For everything. Thank you. Thank you." Although he looked like he was on the verge of getting sick, he managed to sing a jubilant encore of "Beautiful Day."
Lee was spared the indignity of releasing a schmaltzy Kara DioGuardi-penned anthem, and instead chose to record a cover of the U2 classic. It's a song about losing everything but still finding joy in what you have -- a convincing sentiment coming from the Mount Prospect everyman.
"I knew it," a gracious Crystal mouthed to Lee after the announcement.
Viewers must have gotten attached to Lee as they watched him improve from week to week, growing in confidence and polish - even occasionally breaking into a lopsided grin. His humble suburban beginnings and attitude are What the Show Is All About, after all. And he has Simon Cowell's support - if not a full-fledged bromance with the departing Svengali.
Does Lee deserve it? Heck yeah, and if we'd seen his emotional rendition of "The Boxer" from Arlington Park instead on Tuesday, there would be no question. The more commercial artist certainly won, thanks to "Idol's" frantically texting female tweens.
In a flashback to his Chicago audition with judge Shania Twain, Lee explained why he was there: "I'm 23, and this is what I'm supposed to be doing."
Lee's faith in himself never wavered, even after the judges let him down gently Tuesday night. Before the finale, he told reporters, "I think throughout the season the word 'confidence' has come up with me a lot and I think looking confident and being confident are two different things." The man has a point.
And he has a jump-start on the charts: DeWyze's "Slumberland" album outsold Kris Allen's album last week.