‘American Idol’ finale: And the final ‘Idol’ winner is ...

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the Season 15 finale and want to be surprised by the outcome, be warned that the winner and details of the show are revealed below.

“American Idol” had promised us a night of surprises. But the biggest surprise of the show’s final finale wasn’t the fact that Season 1 cohost Brian Dunkleman returned to make his peace with Ryan Seacrest, or that Carrie Underwood showed up to duet with Keith Urban, or that Simon Cowell strolled out to make Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson cringe, or that a cute little girl from New Orleans’ 9th Ward turned up to sing “What a Wonderful World” alongside Harry Connick Jr.

It wasn’t that every “Idol” winner in its 15-year history and a slew of contestants who hadn’t won returned to the show’s stage to perform. (It would probably take me less time to list the contestants who didn’t show up than the ones who did.) It wasn’t even that Larry “Pants on the Ground” Platt or William “She Bangs” Hung (and um, was that Sanjaya?) came back to do their strange things.


No, the biggest shocker of the “American Idol” Season 15 finale turned out to be the winner: Trent Harmon, the 25-year-old Mississippi farm boy and waiter at his family restaurant, the earnest fellow who trained himself not to make silly faces when he sang and wrote every word the judges ever told him down in a tattered leather-bound journal, the guy who suffered through Hollywood Week sweating and struggling with mono and still managed to make it all the way to the finale, crossed the finish line to snatch the crown away from the distinctive head of La’Porsha Renae on Thursday night.

Who saw that coming?

Not the judges, who appeared as shocked as anyone else by the news -- and probably not Renae, who had been regarded as the season’s front-runner since at least the beginning of the live shows.

After all, original “Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson -- who was unable to make it to the finale because she was about to give birth to her second child, but who appeared in a pre-taped performance -- had called Renae “blessed” when she had sat in at the judges table a few weeks back. And she’d tweeted her support and wished that Renae be the last in the long line of “Idol” winners at which Clarkson stood at the head.

Once the finale hoopla had settled down, Seacrest had broken the news swiftly.

“I’ve done this 14 times and the atmosphere has never been more emotionally charged than it is tonight,” he said before requesting, “for the last time,” that the lights be dimmed in anticipation of the results.

“After the nationwide vote, the winner of ‘American Idol’ Season 15 is ... Trent Harmon!”

As his name flashed and scrolled on the screens around him, Harmon went in for a long hug with Renae. He emerged at the urging of Seacrest to tearfully declare, “I worked so hard and I know I have a God-given ability but I didn’t want to take it for granted. I wanted to work so, so hard, and she pushed me to do it,” he said, indicating fellow Mississippian Renae.

Seacrest -- gentlemanly to the last -- directed the audience’s applause to Renae and then invited Harmon to take his vocal victory lap, singing his new single “Falling,” as the confetti fell.

Harmon found his voice and invited in his fellow contestants to join him. Yes, even Renae, a lesson in resilience.

And speaking of resilience, will “Idol” rise again?

“We have had some incredible talent on this show, like that. Whether it’s the stars we created or the judges behind the desk, the real reason our lives have changed forever is you at home. We know that, we appreciate that, and one more time -- this is so tough -- we say to you from Hollywood, good night, America,” Seacrest said, and then, as the lights went dark, he added, “for now.”

For now?


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