Jordin Sparks is the new American Idol.
The 17-year-old from Glendale, Arizona bested Washington state native Blake Lewis to become the youngest champion in the show's six-year history.
Viewers cast a record 74 million votes prior to the May 23 telecast. Sparks, the daughter of retired professional football player Phillippi Sparks, said she grew up watching American Idol, and recalls telling her mother it was her ambition to perform on the show.
"I've just been trying to top myself each week," she said to the Associated Press. "I would sing my song and after I was done I was like, 'OK, what am I going to do next week that's going to be..either just as good or better."
Coming in second was 25-year-old Blake Lewis, whose performing repertoire included beatboxing and sharp dance moves. Speaking backstage, he said he didn't mind his runner-up status.
"I was actually going to try to wear a 'Vote For Jordin Sparks' t-shirt last night but they wouldn't let me do it," he said.
Sparks won a recording contract as part of her prize, but Lewis has yet to sign with a label. Performing in the two-hour finale, telecast live from Hollywood's Kodak Theater, were Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight, Green Day, Bette Midler, Smokey Robinson, and Gwen Stefani.
Also taking the stage were past "Idol" winners Kelly Clarkson,Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, and Carrie Underwood.