After a record-breaking 132 million votes cast, Phillip Phillips has been named the new American Idol during the show’s finale on Thursday.
Twenty-one-year-old Phillips, from Leesburg, Georgia, who has never been in the bottom 3, beat 16-year old Jessica Sanchez in the reality television singing competition.
During the performance night of Top 2, Phillip received a standing ovation from the three “Idol” judges when he sang “Home” that will become his first single as well.
Phillips also sang Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” which was chosen by “American Idol “creator Simon Fuller and Billy Joel’s “Moving Out” which was his choice of song of the season to perform again.
The winner was named at the end of Idol’s annual finale extravaganza, which featured performances by Rihanna, and the 11th-season finalists.
Phillips, who triumphed over what many considered to be one of Idol’s more talented and competitive fields, will hope to join an enviable roster of winners who have become stars in the recording industry, including inaugural champion Kelly Clarkson, country singer Carrie Underwood and last year’s victor, Scotty McCreery.
The victory caps a season when Idol suffered significant ratings losses and endured criticism arguing that its judging panel has been too soft in its singer critiques.