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Phillips wins 'American Idol'

Fans cheer as they hold up copies of a special edition of The Albany Herald during Wednesday night’s viewing party at Lee County High.

Fans cheer as they hold up copies of a special edition of The Albany Herald during Wednesday night’s viewing party at Lee County High.

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Casey Dixon

In anticipation of Phillip Phillips winning the “American Idol” crown, The Albany Herald, in conjunction with 5-Star Nissan, S&S Roofing and Fox 31, printed several thousand commemorative editions devoted to Phillips’ rise to the top. The keepsake editions were provided to several viewing party venues Wednesday night to help Phillips’ local fans show their support for the local star. Scott Brooks, director of sales and marketing for The Herald, said the newspaper will be celebrating Phillip’s victory over the next several days. “We will publish numerous posters and have t-shirts available at nominal prices to help his fans show their support in style,” Brooks said.

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The Associated Press

Finalist Phillip Phillips, left, and John Fogerty perform onstage at the “American Idol” finale on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

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Joe Bellacomo

Fans cheer as they hold up copies of a special edition of The Albany Herald during Wednesday night’s viewing party at Lee County High.

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Joe Bellacomo

photo

Joe Bellacomo

LEESBURG, Ga. — Tension could be felt across Southwest Georgia, especially at the Lee County High School football field, as Ryan Seacrest paused, and then announced the winner. "Phil—"

The rest of the words were drowned out as screams of joy peeled out of the home team bleachers where more than 1,000 Phillip Phillips fans had gathered to see the final leg of their favorite son's remarkable journey to win the crown of American Idol.

Phillips, the 21-year-old pawnshop worker from Leesburg, had beaten out tens of thousands of other contestants from across the country to claim the title following a final show featuring him and the other finalist, 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez of California. A record 132 million votes were cast after that show.

The announcement came just after 10 p.m. Wednesday, immediately after Phillips and Sanchez sang a duet — "Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong."

Host Ryan Seacrest opened the envelope and announced Phillips' victory. "Congratulations, you did it," Seacrest said. "Ladies and gentlemen, your new American Idol singing 'Home.'"

Phillips immediately began singing the original song that he debuted Tuesday night in the final competition episode. It is the song that will be released to radio stations. Judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson gave him the only standing ovation of the evening after he sang it Tuesday night, with Lopez remarking that he showed a unique style with it.

But Phillips was so emotional he couldn't make it through the song. Half way through, he stopped singing and made his way to his family on the floor of the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

As the confetti fell on Phillips Wednesday in L.A., the fans back in Leesburg were laughing, crying, hugging and even squealing with excitement.

"I'm so excited for him," a teary Amber Balkcom, a Lee County resident, said after the announcement just after 10 p.m. Wednesday. "He deserved it."

"I was going to cry either way," added Becca Ball, also of Lee County.

Earlier in the evening — before the show opened — Balkcom had reflected many area residents' confidence that Phillips would emerge the winner. "I voted 3,000 times last night. I had four phones in front of me," Balkcom said. "I love Phillip. He is the sexiest thing I've ever seen in my life."

Jessica Greene, of Lee County, agreed that she thought the win would belong to the Leesburg native. "He has a very distinctive voice."

She also thought that Phillips' run on "Idol" has been good for the community.

"I think it's a good thing for kids to come to," she said. "I think he's a good role model. I've yet to find a negative thing about him."

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Joe Bellacomo

The fans began lining up at 5 p.m. for gates that opened exactly at 6:30.

The event, put together by WFXL Fox 31, in conjunction with the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, the Lee County High School and Q102, was something that the organizers had hoped for in anticipation of Phillips' success on the show, but planning began in earnest right after he was announced as a top two finalist last week.

Brenda Holloway, president of Fox 31, said attendance at the event was more than 1,000 people.

"Absolutely it could not have been any better. People stuck with us until the sun went down (the setting sun had partially obscured the video screen)," Holloway said. "It just shows how much support Phillip had in the area.

"The sponsors, the city of Leesburg, the chamber ... everybody pulled together in support of our young talent. What people think we've done as a station is nothing compared to what Phillip went through."

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Joe Bellacomo

Fans wait in anticipation just before Phillip Phillips is named the winner of “American Idol” during Wednesday night’s viewing party at Lee County High School in Leesburg.

Leesburg native and country star Luke Bryan took to his Twitter account immediately following the show. "Wow. That's great. Go Phillip." He later added, "Wow. Freakin. Go leesburg."

The Albany Herald, in anticipation of a Phillips' win, handed out copies of a special four-page, full-color section commemorating the event immediately after his win was announced. The commemorative edition was distributed at the stadium and at other venues in the area where people had gathered to cheer on the Southwest Georgia star.

During the two hour results show, viewers were treated to performances from the finalists, other Top 10 contestants and special celebrity guests. Phillips performed with rock legend John Fogerty during the show, while Sanchez performed with Tony winner Jennifer Holliday.

Former contestant Joshua Ledet sang a number with former "Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino and Skylar Laine performed with country superstar Reba McEntire. The finalists honored two late disco greats, Donna Summer and Robin Gibb.

The show also made some history with a surprise marriage proposal involving two former "Idol" performers. Ace Young, a season five finalist, told Seacrest that he and Diana DeGarmo, season three runner-up, had recently moved in together.

Then Young dropped to one knee and asked DeGarmo to marry him. She tearfully accepted.

Other celebrity performers Wednesday night included Chaka Khan, Neil Diamond, Rihanna and Tyler's band, Aerosmith.

Comments

TrixibelleBento 1 year, 11 months ago

Good for him. I haven't watched until the past five weeks, but this will definitely put SW GA on the map. How touching when he went to hug his family first after singing Home. I like that song. I think it will do well. I sure hope he won't disappear like so many of the other winners.

Good for you Phillip!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

Philip will stay true to Himself, His Faith, and His Family and, regardless of what Fame and Fortune and especially Idolization brings him..........He Will Prosper!!

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Bubbavet_rureel 1 year, 11 months ago

Albany Tech Graduate, maybe he will continue on to ASU.

Congratulations!

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 11 months ago

And then on to Welfare and Food Stamps! An Example for us All!!

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VietVet1 1 year, 11 months ago

Sorry Bubbavet - he'll look towards higher education

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skilletsdirt 1 year, 11 months ago

"I voted 3,000 times last night." What a freakin idiot.

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VSU 1 year, 11 months ago

3,000 huh! I bet there were people, particularly that lady in Lee County that voted 15,000 times. They did last week. I agree with you, it's crazy to vote that many times. Like I said earlier, it's vote, and not the number of people that voted for them.

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jglass 1 year, 11 months ago

Guys, cut the negative comments! Congratulations Phillip, you will go far!!!

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JR 1 year, 11 months ago

some of the regulars here will find negative if they found a pot of gold. Like clockwork. Must live a sad life.

Congrats, Phillip!

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 11 months ago

P2, I knew you had talent the first time I saw you perform at Casa Tapatia less than a year ago. Congrats! You WILL go far in this world.

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Albanite 1 year, 11 months ago

Phillip deserves it! The world needs to know that we are blessed with more - and even better - musicians all around our area.

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Cartman 1 year, 11 months ago

Local kid does well! Congrats Phillip!

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agonized 1 year, 11 months ago

Congratulations, Phillip, and thanks for bringing something positive, both to TV and to this area! Quite a distinction!

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Buckeye 1 year, 11 months ago

Of all the Idol finales, Phillip displayed the most class and humility of them all with Scotty being number two. I remain truly proud to call southwest Georgia my home.

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rock 1 year, 11 months ago

Do they not charge after a certain number of votes per line??????

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Hawk59 1 year, 11 months ago

Congratulations to Phillip as well to Jessica. I think that it could have gone either way, but am glad that Phillip won. Maybe now some people in the area will understand that there is good as well as bad in the area. Cause every time I read this site it's mostly negative. Rest assured there are more Phillips in the area as well. Give these young people a chance and stop calling them names because you don't understand, or agree with their lifestyles...GO TROJANS!

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glennw 1 year, 10 months ago

Congratulations to Phillip his entire family, and to most of Southwest Georgia; those of you who supported Phillip and his family through his amazing journey and are happy for his exciting win and what it means for the community.

To all of you haters, all I have to say to you is that your narrow minds and racism has closed your eyes to what the exposure of the area and potential opportunties Phillip has brought the community, no thanks to any of you. Whether you personally liked his singing style or not, there was no question he was a tremendous ambassador for SOWEGA, which is more than I can say for any of you.

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