The mood was celebratory backstage after the show, as judges Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid and hosts Khloe Kardashian Odom and Mario Lopez universally agreed that Stevens was the right choice to take it all.
Here’s what they had to say:
Khloe Kardashian Odom: “Tate is so open with his emotions. He’s on stage in front of millions of people and he’s a grown man that will shed a tear. I think that’s something that’s so endearing about him.
“Every [week] he would say ‘You know, tomorrow I may have to go back home and get back to work.’ And I’m like, ‘Are you kidding? Do you hear yourself?’ It’s interesting that [the praise] doesn’t get to [his] head. I couldn’t imagine singing out there and everyone praising you, I think it would. But it never did for him and that’s what I think is so cool. I’m so happy for him and I think maybe that’s why. It’s just a cool feeling.”
Simon Cowell: “There are times on these shows when you think, ‘Oh God, after all this time, the wrong person’s won.’ But when [Tate] sang that song at the end and you hear how good his voice is and his story, you could not not root for him. I think America got it right, I think it’s a great end.
“As much as I like Carly, I’m looking at them both: one is 13-years-old, one is 37 married with kids, and you’re gonna give one of them a check for $5 million. My heart said, ‘It has to go to him because he needs it more than she does.’ So I was just happy because of that.”
Mario Lopez: “You can’t argue with America. I just love the fact that this is the only show where a 37-year-old guy can get a shot. [Tate] took that shot and he won the whole thing. He’s a blue collar guy with kids, it’s just an amazing story. I think [Carly Rose and Fifth Harmony] are gonna be just fine.”
L.A. Reid: “I don’t really need fame, I don’t really need popularity. What I need is that good, complete feeling of knowing that we’ve changed somebody’s life. That’s always been my mission. I’ve had a great time doing ‘X Factor.’ I only did it so I could have a little vacation and a little fun, but now I’ve gotta get back to work.”