American Idol crowned Noah Thompson its Season 20 champion over runner-up Huntergirl during the big season finale that aired Sunday night on ABC.

Noah, a 20-year-old construction worker from Louisa, KY, won American Idol based on viewer votes that had rolled in throughout the live three-hour episode.

"The winner of American Idol 2022 after the nationwide vote -- almost 16 million votes came in for this -- is Noah Thompson," American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced at the end of the finale broadcast.

Ryan wrapped an arm around Noah and said, "Buddy, you just won American Idol. So tell me what it feels like to be the winner."

"My heart is beating out of my chest," Noah noted, appearing surprised and overwhelmed. "This is crazy."

Noah closed out the show with a performance of his new single "One Day Tonight."

Noah gushed about the great "experience" and "everything [he] gained" through doing American Idol before Ryan declared him the winner.

"[I've been] growing and learning everything I can take in from the entire experience," Noah said.

Huntergirl, a 23-year-old singer and songwriter from Winchester, TN, finished as the runner-up.

"I think I've grown this year more than I ever have in my entire life. This has been insane, I'm just happy," Huntergirl said before the live results were announced.

And Leah Marlene, a 20-year-old musician from Normal, IL, placed third.

The supersized finale featured Noah, Huntergirl and Leah each performing three songs for a live audience and American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

Round 1 featured the finalists performing from the iconic songbook of Bruce Springsteen and the second round allowed the finalists to debut their new original singles, following footage of their previously-recorded hero hometown visits.
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After the finalists performed special duets with a judge or famous musician, they chose a reprise of a previously-performed song on the show for Round 3.

Leah kicked off the first round with the Springsteen song "Cover Me," and Katy called the singer "the whole package."

Noah belted out "I'm On Fire," and Lionel praised the singer for honing in on his artistry this season and really finding his lane. Katy said Noah had reached in and grabbed America's heart.

Huntergirl sang "Dancing in the Dark," and Katy gushed about her "electricity" and added, "This is your stage. I don't think you're a star, I think you're a supernova."

In Round 2, Leah debuted her new single "Flowers," which she wrote herself as a songwriter. Katy, in tears, complimented Leah's ability to be such a "brilliant messenger" who can change lives through her music, and Luke called the song tremendous.

Noah sang "One Day Tonight" for the first time in Round 2, and Katy advised the small-town singer to never stop dreaming.

"Yes, we strive for hit records, but what makes your career last forever is when people fall in love with you," Lionel announced. "You're on to something fabulous."

Huntergirl took the stage with "Red Bird" for Round 2, and both Katy and Luke were brought to tears. Katy noted how it was a special performance, and Lionel told the singer that her heart is in the right place.

Following the first two rounds, Leah was eliminated from the competition in third place although she went on to perform again.

Noah then performed "I'm the Only One" with Melissa Etheridge, followed by Huntergirl singing "I Told You So" with Luke Bryan. And Leah then sang "Firework" alongside Katy Perry.

For Round 3, Noah sang a reprise of "Stay" by Rihanna and then Huntergirl delivered an encore performance of "Riot" by Rascal Flatts.

American Idol's finale also included star-studded performances by Lionel, Gabby Barrett, James Arthur, Michael Buble, Sara Bareilles, Deana Carter, the band Earth, Wind & Fire, Flo Rida, Ben Platt, Thomas Rhett, Tai Verdes and more.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.