Trent Harmon has been crowned the 15th and final winner of American Idol in a star-studded farewell show. The 24-year-old waiter beat fellow Mississippi native La’Porsha Renae to the title as the long-running series came to a close.
It was a surprise win for Harmon, as the judges had tipped 22-year-old Renae to triumph. He fell to the floor after he was announced the winner and tearfully praised his rival.
“I know that I have a God-given ability, but I didn’t want to take it for granted. I wanted to work so, so hard, and [Renae] pushed me to do it,” he said.
Harmon worked as a waiter at his family’s restaurant before auditioning for the show. He grew up on a farm and described himself as a “dude from Mississippi”.
Single mother Renae overcame domestic abuse to compete in the show and won support from the judges for her powerful voice. Fox announced in May last year the long-running talent show would end after its 15th season.
US President Barack Obama kicked off the show with a taped message congratulating the show on its 15 years.
He said he hoped young people would be as eager to vote at the polls as they were to vote for their favourites on the show, adding he was doing his best to make it as easy.