Rocker DAVID COOK has been crowned winner of the latest series of American Idol - scoring 12 million more votes than fellow finalist DAVID ARCHULETA.
The 25-year-old was triumphant at the finale of the hit U.S. show's seventh series on Wednesday night (21May08), after weeks of speculation surrounding who would take home the title.
It has been a tough battle for the Missouri native, as he was rushed to hospital last month (Apr08) after suffering from heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
Over 97.5 million votes were cast by the show's fans, a record for the hit Fox series, and Cook couldn't believe the support he had been shown.
He tells America's Us Weekly magazine, "I'm absolutely at a loss for words right now. This is amazing - thank you!"
Fellow hopeful Archuleta was an early favourite with the show's judges, especially music mogul Simon Cowell, who declared his performance at the final as a "knockout" compared to Cook's.
But Cowell went on to apologise to Cook before the winner was announced for comments he made on Tuesday's (20May08) programme, saying his remarks on the performance were "verging on disrespectful".
The finale also attracted some more seasoned performers, with George Michael and former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood singing between sets by the contenders.