May 22, 2008 -- While the country may not know who is running for President yet, at least one great American contest has finally come to a close.
In a surprise win, David Cook won "American Idol" in last night's season finale by 12 million votes.
An emotional Cook, 25, became instant rock royalty after claiming the title, even after American Idol's toughest judge, Simon Cowell, all but crowned David Archuleta, 17, the winner on Tuesday evening.
"David, I will take this time to apologize," Cowell said during the finale.
It was a night of David-and-David duets, dancing and passionate performances. George Michael, Donna Summers and Bryan Adams also performed during the live, two-hour special.
But the spotlight was on this so-called Cinderella story. Cook, a bartender from Missouri, was an underdog from the beginning. Archuleta may have only been a teen, but he had years of vocal training and had appeared on the television show "Star Search."
During his audition, "Idol" judge Randy Jackson urged Cook to come out of his shell.
"Work on some persona," he encouraged, "Perform."
And perform he did. After winning the title, Cook quickly performed "Idol's" final song, "Time of My Life," ending the season on a high note.
As for the "Runner-Up David," the tween vote fell a little short.
But as any American Idol fan knows, winning isn't necessarily worth its weight in platinum gold. Season Five champion, Taylor Hicks, was dropped from his record label after weak CD sales.
But that season's fourth-place finisher, Chris Daughtry, who has more of a rock style, sold four million albums — the fastest-selling rock album in history.
Cook, like Daughtry, is also more of a hard-rock singer then previous winners, which could make a difference.
"It is what you make of it after the show," said Michael Slezak, senior writer for Entertainment Weekly. "David Cook is poised to have Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson's level of success."
Now that he has won, Cook will record an album and go on tour this summer with the rest of the Idol contestants.