It all started with 10,000 pop-star wannabes, and then it was down to two: Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson, vying for the title of "American Idol" and a $1 million record deal.
Guarini, 23, of Doylestown, Pa., and Clarkson, 20, of Burleson, Texas, held hands as they waited to hear who would win. They hugged when they heard the results: Clarkson was declared the winner.
American Idol viewers have been phoning in votes during the Fox TV show.
The prize is a recording contract with a single to be released Sept. 17, and an album to follow in November.
In an online ballot on ABCNEWS.com — which has no connection to the actual American Idol poll — Clarkson also came out on top, capturing 84 percent of the votes to Guarani's 16 percent.
Clarkson's mother, Jeanne Taylor, says she realized her daughter had star power back when Clarkson was in junior high.
"Sports had been a big thing in her life too, but she chose singing and she just keeps getting better and better," Taylor said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "I'm just amazed."
Meanwhile, Guarini's father, former Atlanta Police Chief Eldrin Bell, said his son had already made him as proud as he could be.
"When your kid goes on national television and says 'my dad is my inspiration,' how can you help but be proud?" Bell said on Good Morning America.
Off the Hook
For the past several weeks, American Idol has been the most-watched program among teenage and young adult viewers. Last week, the Fox show drew more than 15 million viewers.
The numbers of call-in voters has skyrocketed to more than 14 million weekly. That includes, however, "power dialers" making thousands of calls in a bid to change the voting outcome. American Idol producers maintain that their impact has been insignificant.