David Cook took David Archuleta's Tuesday night "knockout" punch and came out a champ.
The 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK was crowned American Idol's seventh-season winner during last night's live two-hour finale broadcast on Fox.
Cook won Idol's seventh-season title after host Ryan Seacrest said "97 and a half million" home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance broadcast that saw Archuleta and Cook each sing three songs.
Seacrest said Cook defeated Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT, by a 56% to 44% home viewer voting margin, or roughly 12 million votes.
"I started this season -- much to [Simon Cowell's] chagrin -- as the word nerd, and I'm absolutely at a loss for words right now," said Cook after the results were revealed. "Thank you, you guys... This is amazing. Thank you."
Cook joins original Idol Kelly Clarkson; second-season winner Ruben Studdard; third-season champ Fantasia Barrino; fourth-season winner Carrie Underwood; fifth-season champ Taylor Hicks; and sixth-season winner Jordin Sparks as the recipient of a management contract with Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Management and a recording contract with a division of Clive Davis' BMG Music Group.
While Cowell labeled Archuleta as the "one to beat" when the competition was still in the semifinal rounds, it became clear Cook was a force to be reckoned with as the season continued.
Cowell and fellow judge Randy Jackson went on the record as foreseeing an Archuleta vs. Cook finale when there were still eight finalists remaining and Cowell subsequently reiterated that claim when there were only four finalists remaining.
Cowell then predicted Cook would win the Idol crown during a Tuesday appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, however during that night's live performance episode he awarded all three rounds to Archuleta.
"Tonight, I think we've witnessed one of the great finals," said Cowell at the conclusion of Tuesday night's broadcast. "In my opinion [Archuleta], you came out here tonight to win. What we have witnessed is a knockout."
But right before Seacrest revealed the results at the conclusion of last night's bloated finale, Cowell backed off his strong words from Tuesday.
"I went back home to watch it and it wasn't quite as clear-cut as we called it," he said. "[Cook], I will take this opportunity to apologize because I think I was verging on disrespectful with you and I don't think you deserve that. The thing I like about the both of you is you're triers. You've both given it your best, you're both very nice people, and for the first time ever, I don't really care who wins. I think you've both done terrific."
All of Idol's Top 12 seventh-season finalists participated in the finale, with the Top 6 males performing a medley with Bryan Adams and the Top 6 females performing a medley with Donna Summer.
The filler-filled broadcast also included a a video montage of the seventh-season Ford music video clips; Archuleta and Cook performing a duet; third-place finisher Syesha Mercado performing with Seal; fourth-place finisher Jason Castro singing "Hallelujah;" fifth-place finisher Brooke White performing with Graham Nash; and sixth-place finisher Carly Smithson and eighth-place finisher Michael Johns singing a duet.
Viewers also saw Archuleta and Cook each receive a new Ford Escape Hybrid; Jimmy Kimmel deliver a roast-style seventh-season review; Cook perform with ZZ Top; Archuleta perform with OneRepublic; live updates with Cook fans in Kansas City, MO and Archuleta aficionados in Salt Lake City, UT; Sparks sing "One Step at a Time; Underwood sing "Last Name;" live performances by both the Jonas Brothers and George Michael; and a live performance of Renaldo Lapuz singing "We're Brothers Forever," a tune he wrote and originally sang during his Dallas audition (mercifully there wasn't a 3rd Annual Golden Idols).
Thanks to the wonder of technology, Hollywood stars Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. also performed as The Pips with Gladys Knight during a 1972 performance of "Midnight Train to Georgia."
Seacrest also put Tuesday night's vote total into perspective, stating that if "every single person" in Canada, Spain, Ireland and Australia had voted, it still wouldn't have matched the "97 and a half million" home viewer vote total.
"You didn't just break the record for the show, you smashed it by over 23 million," said Seacrest at the beginning of the broadcast.
The finale broadcast concluded with Cook singing "The Time of My Life," which was written by Regie Hamm and won Idol's seventh-season songwriting competition.