Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images Luke Bryan and Noah Thompson
Winning American Idol is more than a contestant's talent, it's about who they are on the inside.
On Sunday's season 20 finale of the singing competition series, Noah Thompson was crowned the winner with Huntergirl as the runner-up. Following the live show, judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie spoke to various outlets in a group interview about the outcome.
When asked what they thought drew America to push for Thompson, 20, Bryan says it really came down to his "likability" and his "all-American boy next door" energy.
"He just came in as the underdog … the unassuming guy that he didn't see it coming, America didn't see it coming," the "Drink a Beer" singer, 45, says. "And I think, you know, we've seen it in 20 years where those type people, really — American pulls for them, responds to them. And it always tells me that at the end of the day, being a good, humble, kind person wins."
Richie, 72, agrees and says "the humble giant wins every time."
"I can't tell you how many times he woke up every night and went, 'I can't believe I'm here.' And I go, 'You got to start believing, son,' " Richie says. "Well, tonight, I walked up to him and said, 'You want to tell me that now?' But it's that humble giant that you're looking for that works every time."
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images Ryan Seacrest, Katy Perry, Noah Thompson, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie
Thompson also sat down for a group interview after the show and says that he felt "numb" after learning the "insane" news that he took the first-place prize.
"10 minutes before that, I thought about my journey on this show. How it's all been. And it's been stressful. It's been a lot of things, I did not expect to make it this far and I just won. So I'm blown away but I'm just trying to take it all in," he says.
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images Noah Thompson
The top three contestants competing on Sunday's show were Thompson, Huntergirl who came in second and Leah Marlene who came in third.
At the end of the finale, however, when host Ryan Seacrest announced his name as the winner, he was in complete shock.
"Oh my God ... my heart is beating out of my chest, this is crazy," he said.
The 3-hour finale also featured performances by Flo Rida, Melissa Etheridge, Sara Bareilles, Michael Bublé, Ben Platt, James Arthur, Thomas Rhett, Deana Carter, Tai Verdes, season 16 finalist Gabby Barrett, and Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as the rest of the top 10 contestants and the judges.
"As a kid, all I thought about was playing music and being famous. But where I'm from, you don't really get much opportunities. My family, they believe in me, the guys I work with believe in me, but I've just never believed in myself," he said at the time.
Thompson later added, "I would've never signed myself up for something like this, I never had that confidence." It turns out, his best friend went behind his back and signed him up for the show.