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After weeks of Hollywood auditions and months of performances, we finally have our new American Idol, Lee DeWyze! The 24-year-old paint salesman from Chicago took the big prize over Crystal Bowersox. Lee was still taking it all in when he stopped by the OK! offices to talk about comparisons to former Idol winners, what he wants to do on his debut album and if he and Crystal would ever start dating!

Did you think you would win?
I thought when there was less and less of us that I had a good chance at it. I think that we were all talented, but you definitely want to win. You hope the best for yourself. You want to get as far as you possibly can. The only thing you could do is think that you could win. You have to be confident in yourself.

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CHECK OUT PICS FROM LEE’S VISIT TO OK!:

Was it hard to hear all the talk early on that Crystal was the front-runner?
I knew everyone was saying this and that. But what Crystal does doesn’t affect me. What I do and I don’t do affects me. When people were talking about what Crystal was doing or what anyone else was doing, I was focused on what I was doing. So I really didn’t let it get to me too much. She was confident in herself just as much as I was in myself. It could have really been anybody’s. I’m happy with what happened.

How nuts is it that you both auditioned in Chicago?
Yea, it was weird, we were sitting next to each other, and we go from that to being the last two in the finale. It was really weird. We literally went through the whole process together. It was cool, a familiar face from the beginning of the show.

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Would you two ever date?
No, me and Crystal would never date. I would never date Crystal. But she is a very good friend of mine. That’s where that line is drawn [laughs]. We both appreciate each other for what we do musically. I’m single and she’s my friend.

CHECK OUT LEE’S VIDEO MESSAGE TO OK! READERS:



What was it like being part of the finale?
Being part of the finale was pretty intense. The whole thing went really really quick. At the time, it felt like forever. Looking back it, it seems like it was that quick [snaps fingers.] Obviously, Simon was leaving so it was a big finale. There was a lot going on. It was so surreal. There’s a lot I don’t remember because I was so focused. That is a experience that I definitely won’t forget, just how I felt when it was over. It was this weight off my shoulders.

It looked liked you were going to pass out when you won.
I know! I know! I look back at it and it wasn’t like I was shocked or anything. I really wasn’t thinking about that. Now I get to make an album, now I get to go on tour. It was all hitting me at once.

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Right when Ryan said your name….
I was like, “Oh god, thank you!” [Laughs] Unless you are up there and you experience that, it’s hard to explain how you feel.

What did you and Crystal say to each other beforehand?
Just whatever happens, good luck to you. We both support each other in whatever we’re doing. I appreciate her as an artist. I know she does the same. Whatever happens I know we’re going to stay friends and do our own thing when this is all over.

What made you try out for American Idol this year?
Time! I was 23 when I tried out and just for me I wanted to do this. This was something I always wanted to do and I didn’t want to wait around anymore. It was the opportunity. It was Simon [Cowell]’s last year and they were coming to Chicago. Just to audition, it seemed like the right thing to do at the right time. For whatever reason, I was drawn to audition and I did. My friends and my family supported me and it worked out well, I guess [laughs].

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When you and Crystal decided to do “Falling Slowly” as a duet, did you think about the fact that it was a big song for Kris Allen last year?
No, there are a lot of comparisons drawn on Idol. This season compared to last season compared to the year before. I think that when the show is over is when you really get to make a name for yourself. I knew Kris did it and he did an awesome job on it. I think he’s a really good artist and I think he’s a cool guy. But it was a different set-up. His was a lot more folky and ours was a bit more ballad-y. It was a duet versus… it was a different feel. So I really didn’t feel like I was stepping all over that or worried about the fact that he did it. It was fun for both of us to do.

Did you talk to Kris about it when he came back for the finale?
I got to talk to him, we didn’t really talk about that much. We definitely talked about other things like going through the experience and what’s it like for him. He was telling me what it was kind of going to be like coming up. He’s a really cool guy. I talked to a lot of the past Idols since I’ve been off and they’ve all been supportive and just do your thing, be proud of yourself.

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Have you heard the comparisons to David Cook and Kris?
Yeah, I have. I’ve heard the whole thing. You’re going to get compared. But we’re all different artists, completely. There is a different sound to each one of us. We all do our own thing and our own styles. After the show is when you really get to put out an album and show what kind of artist you are. You’re not up there singing cover songs. Granted, I was the guy up there with the guitar. That’s fine, but that’s what I do. I wasn’t going to not do it because they did it. And I wasn’t going to do it because they did it. I respect them 100 percent and I think they’re great. But I wanted to make a name for myself, too.

Have you listened to their albums and how will yours be different?
It’s not a matter of trying to make it different. I’m just going to do what I like to do and it’s going to come out my way. I listened to both their albums. They’re both really good. It’s inspiring to see that these guys have gone through this and put out successful albums. I only hope to have the same.

I think their music is totally different.
Completely, it’s all kind of the same genre. Just totally different styles of singing.

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Will you move back to Chicago?
I’ll probably be out in L.A. for a while, that’s where everything is happening for me right now. I would definitely like to have a place in Chicago right now and be able to go back and forth. But right now I’m pretty sure I’ll be out in L.A.

Did you get to talk to Paula Abdul at the finale?
Yeah, I ran into her downstairs. [Lee’s cell phone starts beeping.] That’s why my alarm didn’t go off this morning! But yeah, I ran into her and talked to her for a little bit. She gave me a hug. She said, “You should be proud of yourself. I think you’re great and I wish you the best of luck.” It was brief, but it was nice.

Do you think a girl can still win Idol?
Yeah! Crystal was obviously very close. It could have been her up there. But it wasn’t and it is what it is. She’s just as talented as anyone else out there. She’s really good. It’s just a matter of people voting. You can’t control it. There have been girl winners in the past and you never know. Maybe next year it will be a girl.

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Since they’ve allowed instruments, a girl hasn’t won.
I never thought about that. It definitely adds a different element to the show and Crystal plays guitar. There were a lot of girls this season that played instruments. I think it’s really anybody’s. Anybody can win. It’s just a matter of really wanting to win and doing your best on the show.

Is it true that you were worried about being gone every week?
I wasn’t worried every week. I overthink a lot of things. I vented to my friends on the show, so they like to say I worried all the time. There were weeks that went by that I was worried, but not always.

What kind of album do you want and who would you love to collaborate with?
There are a lot of artists who I would love to collaborate with and I’m going to get a chance to sit down and talk about who I am going to work with and stuff. I just want an album that really represents me. I definitely want rock. A folk element, alternative, some pop in it. Just good hooks, good lyrics and something I can be proud of and stand by. It’s going to be awesome.

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You seem to come off shy on the show but everyone says how funny you are.
We’re up there for only a minute and a half every week and you don’t really get to know a person. When I was up there, it wasn’t about me trying to be something I’m not, talking about a story about me. It was just about my music. When I was up there, it was just about my music and about connecting with my audience. It wasn’t about jumping around on stage, that’s not what it was for me. But I obviously have a personality, too [laughs.] It’s good now that we’re doing a lot of press and interviews where I can open up a little bit more than I could on the show.

Are you excited to go on tour?
I am excited to go on tour because I will be recording my album while I’m on tour. It’s definitely something that I am excited about doing. And obviously hanging out with everybody again. They’re all my friends so it’s going to be cool to hang and play shows together. No four judges sitting there in front of you and telling you what they think. I’m excited to perform and play.

Do you have a Twitter account?
I’m in the process of setting up a Twitter. But right now there is a website I have going: leedewyzeofficial.com. My twitter will be run through there, too. There are a couple of fake ones out there, but it’s cool, what are you going to do? You can’t control that.

Who is your celebrity crush?
Joss Stone! It’s not just because I think she’s gorgeous, which I do. I’ve always liked her music. She’s really cool, down-to-earth. Her music comes across that way. I just respect her.

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