How Maddie Poppe found love on 'American Idol'

"I was not looking for a relationship," this season's champ said.

May 23, 2018, 8:32 AM

Maddie Poppe knew she had won the "American Idol" crown even before Ryan Seacrest announced the winner to the world.

"Every week ... I [could] see the card, but I [didn't] ever look," she told ABC News. "But this week ... I knew I was gonna be able to see whose name it was. And I looked over at Caleb [Lee Hutchinson, the runner-up] and I couldn't help but look down at the card, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh! It's my name!'"

She added, "You can see Caleb wink at me and he kinda looks at me and in that moment, I knew that we both had seen the card."

Hutchinson didn't mind losing to Maddie and revealed they've been a couple since January.

"I was not looking for a relationship," Poppe said. "I've just been burned a lot. But he captured my heart pretty quickly. I mean, his personality just shines, and he makes me laugh more than anybody else in the whole world, so it didn't take long!"

So how did Poppe, who described herself as an "underdog," end up winning? She stayed true to herself. In fact, she was surprised that the show's producers "truly let me be exactly who I wanted to be."

She believes having judge Katy Perry on her side didn't hurt either.

"Early on she was saying, 'Oh, this girl reminds me of myself,' and was tweeting super nice things," Poppe recalled. "To have her support ... to have her say that to the world ... was pretty awesome."