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Even vacationers catch Phillip Phillips fever

Were you SPOTTED at the “American Idol” finale party in Leesburg? Go to to see.

Were you SPOTTED at the “American Idol” finale party in Leesburg? Go to to see.

ALBANY, Ga. — A flurry of interviews with the national media. A call to TV host Kelly Ripa during her show. An appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno.

That’s the life Leesburg’s Phillip Phillips is living this week.

It was difficult to travel anywhere in Albany or Leesburg, actually across Southwest Georgia, and not be drawn into a conversation about Phillips and his win Wednesday night on “American Idol.”

And it wasn’t just the locals getting involved. Tom and Jan Royal of Michigan are prime examples.

The Royals, who had been vacationing in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and in Florida, decided to stop by Albany earlier this week because they were fans of the movies produced by Sherwood Baptist Church.

Sherwood got them to Albany, but they contracted Phillip Phillips fever once they got here.

“We stopped by the Welcome Center and got a lot of information about the church and Albany,” Jan Royal said. “We stayed overnight and heard about Phillip Philips from the girl at the Jamison Inn.”

“We watched the program and, of course, he won. We got caught up in the excitement and called the girl at the front desk to congratulate her on Phillips’ win and she was crying.”

“But we see what everybody is talking about. We saw what a humble and nice person he seems to be.”

Tom Royal, a retired engineer, said Phillips got the couple involved in “American Idol” for the first time since Kelly Clarkson was the season one winner.

“I have to admit, it was fun,” Tom Royal said.