As expected,in season finale Phillips, 21, a shop worker from Leesburg, Georgia, eclipsed Jessica Sanchez, 16, a southern Californian of Filipino and Latino descent.
Phillips topped Sanchez after a reported 132 million votes were cast — “a new world record,” according to host Ryan Seacrest.
The contest remains one of the most-watched shows on US television. And in the final round, viewers cast a record 132 million votes.
“All the fans out there, thank y’all for voting for us,” said Phillips before Ryan Seacrest announced the result.
“After a record breaking 132 million votes,” Seacrest said at the end of a two-hour broadcast, “the winner of American Idol season 11 is … Phillip Phillips!”
Phillips, a rocker who has been compared to Dave Matthews, is the fifth male contestant in a row to win “American Idol” since Jordin Sparks captured the title in 2006, reports On The Red Carpet.
Not only Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips had a big night on Wednesday.
The finale featured performances from Sparks, who had attended the pre-finale on Tuesday, co-judge Jennifer Lopez, co-judge Steven Tyler’s band Aerosmith, and from Rihanna, who sang her song “Where Have You Been.”
The winner sang and performed on guitar “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Bad Moon Rising” with singer John Fogerty. The male finalists performed with Neil Diamond.
As for female contestants, they were performed with Chaka Khan, who sang with the girls her hit “I’m Every Woman,” a Whitney Houston cover featured on “The Bodyguard” soundtrack. “Glee” star Jane Lynch was seen in the audience, singing along.
Sanchez became a frontrunner earlier this season having sung “I Will Always Love You,” Houston’s breakout hit from “The Bodyguard.
She performed an encore of it on Tuesday and joined to Jennifer Holiday to sing the power ballad “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls,” the movie that won “American Idol” alum Jennifer Hudson an Oscar.
Sanchez and Phillips sang “Up Where We Belong,” made famous by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, before the results were revealed.
After the winner was announced, he performed an encore of “Home,” the track he was made to sing on Tuesday’s pre-finale, which was predicted to be a potential first single. Phillips wiped away tears and hugged his family after he finished singing the song, as a marching band trailed behind him.
The show also included “Idol’s” first live wedding proposal, when fifth season finalist Ace Young proposed to third season contestant Diana DeGarmo.
The host invited the two on stage, explaining that it was because they were adorable, but it quickly became clear that Young had something up his sleeve and in the pocket, writs The Huffington Post.
In a pre-planned moment that DeGarmo didn’t expect, Seacrest dimmed the lights and Young got down on one knee. His proposal even had dramatic pauses in it like he was auditioning for Seacrest’s job.
The woman accepted despite Young’s tacky jewelry store plug mid-proposal: “I’m so speechless right now,” she said. “Wow, babe, you pciked a good one. All right!”