"The Great Singer" beat "The Great Entertainer" as Jordin Sparks defeated Blake Lewis and won American Idol's sixth season title during Wednesday night's live two-hour season finale of the smash-hit Fox reality talent competition.

"I can't thank you [enough] for keeping me around and thank you so much for everything," a visibly emotional Sparks -- the show's youngest-ever winner -- said upon learning of her victory.

The 17-year-old from Glendale, AZ was revealed as the competition's winner after Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced "a new world record of 74 million votes" were cast after Tuesday night's final sixth-season performance episode that pitted Sparks against Lewis, a 25-year-old from Bothell, WA. 

As Idol's sixth season champion, Sparks joins original Idol Kelly Clarkson; Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard; Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino; Idol 4 winner Carrie Underwood; and Idol 5 winner Taylor Hicks as the winner of a management contract with Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Management and a recording contract with a division of the BMG Music Group recording company headed by industry legend Clive Davis.

American Idol's bloated finale, broadcast live from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre, was even more dragged-out than usual for the show's sixth season.  Although it was listed as two-hours long in Fox's publicly released programming schedule information, Idol's sixth season finale actually ran 169 minutes and (in a move that no doubt upset DVR users) didn't reveal Sparks as the competition's winner until well past the two-hour mark.

What did you think about American Idol's season finale?

Talk about it on Reality TV World's American Idol message boards.
All of Idol's Top 12 sixth season finalists participated in the finale, with the Top 6 males performing a medley with Smokey Robinson and the Top 6 females performing a medley with Gladys Knight.  The filler-filled broadcast also included a video montage of Ford music video clips from the sixth season; third-place finisher Melinda Doolittle performing with Bebe and Cece Winans; Sparks and Lewis each receiving a new Ford Mustang; seventh-place finisher Sanjaya Malakar performing with Aerosmith's Joe Perry; Sparks performing "You're All I Need to Get By" with Studdard; Lewis beat-boxing with Doug E. Fresh; and the 2nd Annual Golden Idols, which featured live in-studio appearances by now infamous sixth season Seattle auditioners Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs.

Jordin Sparks reacts to Ryan Seacrest's announcement that she is American Idol's sixth season champion (Photo credit Frank Micelotta/FOX)

In addition to Studdard's duet with Sparks, the sixth season finale also featured performances from all but one of Idol's previous winners.  Clarkson sang her new single "Never Again;" Hicks performed "Heaven Knows," a track from his self-titled debut album; and Underwood performed her Idol Gives Back rendition of "I'll Stand By You."  (Barrino was reportedly unable to participate due to her The Color Purple commitments.)

Davis was also at the finale and in addition to offering viewers a boring boardroom-like update on how Idol's past finalists are currently doing in the entertainment industry, he presented Underwood with a plaque commemorating the fact that "Some Hearts," her Grammy Award winning debut album, has now sold more than  6 million copies.

"I would like to thank everyone at American Idol for giving me everything I could have dreamed of and then some," Underwood said after coming back out on stage to accept the plaque.  "So let's get back to the show and the winners."

Unfortunately for viewers, it wasn't that simple and the finale also included performances by Gwen Stefani (via satellite) Tony Bennett, Green Day, The African Children's Choir, and Bette Midler before Sparks' victory was finally revealed.  Idol's access to the famed The Beatles songbook was also on display, as the finale opened with Lewis and Sparks performing "I Saw Her Standing There" and closed with an "American Idol Tribute to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" that included performances by Clarkson, Hicks, Underwood, Studdard and all of the sixth season's Top 12. 
Reality TV World is now available on the all-new Google News app and website. Click here to visit our Google News page, and then click FOLLOW to add us as a news source!

Of course there was also the regular banter between Seacrest and the judges, with Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell -- similar to their Tuesday night comments -- both predicting Sparks would win just prior to the results finally being revealed.

(Top photo credit Frank Micelotta/FOX)