After host Ryan Seacrest (finally!) got around to announcing Sparks as the winner, the 17-year-old high-school junior from Arizona said that she had no idea she was the odds-on favorite to join Kelly, Reuben, Fantasia, Carrie and Taylor as America's favorite singer. "I've been in a bubble," Sparks told TVGuide.com after being crowned the youngest Idol to date. "When I went home [after making the finals] there was so much support, but that was from my home state. I had no idea what everyone was thinking."
Sparks needed to go no further than the red carpet outside the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Wednesday night to get a poll as to just how many people had selected her as the clear winner over fellow finalist Blake Lewis, who hails from the state of Washington. Everyone from Scott Savol (an Idol Season 4 contestant) to Simon Cowell himself picked Sparks as the imminent champion. "Blake really entertained [on Tuesday night], but as far as singing and a vocal, Jordin's got it hands down," Savol predicted.
The best Lewis could hope for was a split decision, which he got from one Idol devotee. Ashley "Crying Girl" Ferl, who captured hearts (and the eye of a Saturday Night Live sketch writer) for her teary devotion to top-10 finalist Sanjaya Malakar, said, "I'm voting for both Jordin and Blake. I like both of them."
The 14-year-old from Riverside, California, has been left mostly speechless by all the attention that she's received, but her mom, Stacy, got a chuckle out of the SNL sketch that spoofed her daughter's passion. "[Andy Samberg] did a great job imitating Sanjaya," Stacy says. "I thought it was pretty cool that [original SNLer] Dan Aykroyd was in the scene, too."
Returning to the matter of the celebrated contest's outcome, even Sparks' fellow finalist called it. "I picked Jordin Sparks as the American Idol winner [a long time ago]," Blake Lewis told the press after the show. "I was going to try to wear a ‘Vote For Jordin Sparks' T-shirt [on Tuesday], but [the producers] wouldn't let me."
Lewis' personal victory came in performing "The Show" with fellow hip-hopper Doug E. Fresh. The two have no official plans to team up, but they've already formed a mutual admiration society. "I like Blake," Fresh raved following their act. "He's the truth. I've watched what he does — his skills, his passion. People who underestimate him are in for a surprise." Says Blake, "Working with Doug is a dream, and it came true. He's one of my main inspirations."
Lewis may have come in second, but he is No. 1 in the eyes of his parents Dallas and Dinah. "I want Blake to put out his own CD," says Dinah. "And I can't wait to buy it and hear it, too. I think he's great. But, of course, I'm his mom!"
Sparks, whose mother accompanied her to the pressroom, also had parental support. "I've been watching American Idol since I was 12 years old," the champion said. "I said, ‘Mom, this is what I want to do. I want to sing on that stage.' And now, I've done it. I know that she and my dad and my brother are so proud of me."
Anyone on the fence as to whether or not Sparks would win swayed to her side after her Tuesday-night, show-stopping take on "This Is My Now," the winning entry in Idol's songwriting contest. Scott Krippayne and Jeff Peabody, who crafted the hit that both Sparks and Lewis performed, actually sent in two songs. "Before the deadline, we tried another one," Peabody says. "I put some lyrics down and sent them to Scott and we felt really good about it." Adds Krippayne, "It was kind of freaky [hearing it performed]. It was like we were at this great concert and, ‘Wait, we know the words to this.'"
Lewis says he wouldn't have changed anything about his Idol experience except for perhaps how he performed the winning tune. "If I could have remixed ‘This Is My Now' and made it mine, I totally would have," he muses. "But we had to keep it true to form. I knew Jordin would kill it. She can do any key. Jordin made it hers."
Sparks, who's also celebrating her last day as a junior in high school today, says she enjoyed each and every song she sang as an Idol contestant. "I liked some more than others," she reflects. "I don't regret anything."
Has it sunk in that she's the newest American Idol? "I can't believe it's over," she says. "It feels like years ago that I auditioned in Seattle. The [final night] was so amazing. I looked up and saw my parents and everyone. I realized that I was doing what I wanted and it overcame me."
Sparks wasn't the only one who felt a wave of emotion. One reporter who's been following Idol since January and as such has researched mind-numbing facts and figures related to the singing contest exclaimed soon after Sparks' name was announced, "I have my life back! This is my now!!"
Check out TV Guide's complete post-finale Q&A with Jordin.
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