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MAY
23
3 YEARS

'American Idol' Anoints Phillip Phillips Season 11 Winner

America's love affair with WGWGs (white guys with guitars) continues as 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez takes second place in this year's competition.

Phillip Phillips finale winning perf P
Michael Becker / FOX

Phillip Phillips is the winner of American Idol's 11th season, beating out 16-year-old vocal powerhouse Jessica Sanchez for the title and bragging rights.

Phillips, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Leesburg, Ga., is the fifth male singer in a row to go home with the Idol glory. Although Sanchez had the pipes, Phillips gained momentum in part from two clear advantages: he is telegenic, which helped him score legions of female fans, and his show coronation song, "Home," is perhaps the best to come out of Idol in 10 years. Phillips was even dubbed "the next Springsteen" by judge Steven Tyler.

After Ryan Seacrest announced the result, season-11 castoffs including Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet rushed the stage, where they congratulated Phillips and gathered around Sanchez, who could be heard stifling a sob as confetti sprinkled from the ceiling. The runner-up put the smile back on her face to what Phillips -- his eyes brimming with tears -- perform "Home."

STORY: 'American Idol' Final 2 Performance Night: 10 Things You Didn't See On TV

Sanchez, from Chula Vista, Calif., would have been the first female singer to win Idol since Jordin Sparks took the crown in 2006. But with her big, show-stopping, Beyonce-style voice, she is bound to go far in her career, with or without winner status.

“It wasn’t her best song," said Tyler of Sanchez's coronation song, "Nothing Changes." As for Phillips? "He just didn't care, and I think America loves that."

Tyler also credited Phillips' win on his growth during the four months of competition. "I think he's evolved," the judge offered. 

Wednesday's grand finale featured a duet by Phillips and CCR's John Fogerty (with "Bad Moon Rising") in addition to a diva sing-off between Sanchez and original Dreamgirl Jennifer Halliday on "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."

VIDEO: 'American Idol' Finale: Original 'Home' Vs. Phillip Phillips' Version, Who Sang It Better? 

Other guest performers included Chaka Khan, Neil Diamond and Rihanna, as well as judges Jennifer Lopez in full-on Jenny From the Block mode with her single "Tonight" and Tyler onstage with Aerosmith.

In an Idol first, two former contestants who are now in love became engaged on camera: Ace Young proposed to Diana DeGarmo, presenting her with a ring -- and she said yes. Then Seacrest, unflappable traffic cop that he is, cut to the next act.

Seacrest said a record 132 million votes were cast, resulting in Phillip's victory.

Questions, Idol-Worshippers: how happy are you with the result? Was Sanchez robbed of the crown? Does Phillip have what it takes to be successful post-Idol?

Email: erin.carlson@thr.com

Twitter: @ErinLCarlson

With reporting by Michele Amabile Angermiller