KANSAS CITY — A 37-year-old Belton street crew worker has won Fox's "The X Factor" and the $5 million that comes with the television title.
Tate Stevens won the show's finale against 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar and the band Fifth Harmony. Stevens was the only country singer to make the show's Top 12.
"This is crazy," Stevens told The Kansas City Star by telephone shortly after he won Thursday night. "This is very surreal, and yeah, it's gonna take a while (to sink in)."
During the two-hour finale, Stevens, wearing a black leather jacket over an untucked Western shirt, sang the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" and "Please Come Home for Christmas."
After the win, Stevens thanked his supporters and "the man upstairs, for taking care of me," as well as his family, wife Ashlie, their two children and his parents and "all the country music fans."
"This is the best day of my life," he said.
Ashlie's sister, Stephanie Klinksick of Rich Hill, said the family was grateful to all the people "who have rallied around him and voted thousands of times apiece to ensure that he was able to make his dream a reality."
Stevens, who has sung with bands since he was just out of Belton High School, tried out for the show last spring, one of thousands of hopefuls in five audition cities.
Ashlie Stevens said she and their children, Hayden and Rylie, are excited that he'll be home in time for Christmas.
"The kids are ready to spend some quality time with him without cameras around," she said. "It's been a long couple of months."
A record deal may now be in the works. In early October, before "X Factor" live shows started airing, Stevens said he was already hearing from record labels and producers.
There's also a special plan in Belton, where officials say the water tower will be repainted with the message "Home of Tate Stevens. Live the Dream."