‘I Hate Being the Center of Attention’

After a record-breaking 132 million votes,Phillip Phillips is the season 11 American Idol champion.

The 21-year-old pawnshop worker from Leesburg, Ga., talked to reporters about his big win, runner-up Jessica Sanchez, postponing his kidney surgery, and more.



On becoming the new American Idol.

“I’m still adjusting. It’s pretty crazy. I’m not used to all this because I hate being the center of attention. I’m still trying to take all of it in piece-by-piece, but it’s definitely different.”

On the moment his Idol win was announced.

“I didn’t even really want to sing or anything. I was just so shocked and I just started thinking about the top 12 and our whole journey. It’s just so crazy now that it’s over. It was a tough road for all of us, and it was just amazing to get to know them. It just kind of got me a little emotional.”

Do You Think Phillip Phillips Deserved to Win American Idol? Vote!

On runner-up Jessica Sanchez.

“She was just so proud of me. She said she knew it, but I honestly didn’t know. I thought she was going to win. She has such an amazing voice. We’re just so proud of each other no matter the outcome.”

On his coronation song, “Home.”

“[The producers] felt like it was the right fit for me. I wanted to do one of my own songs that I’ve written, but in the short amount of time we were given, we couldn’t really do it. It’s a good song, but it’s not really something I would write. I’m glad people liked it. It’s a little too pop for me. I’m a little more rock than that, so hopefully people will enjoy what I have to put out.”

Watch Phillip’s Emotional Performance of “Home”

On his season-long battle with kidney issues.

“My right kidney kind of isn’t functioning, and I have a stent in to help with that. I just have to get that fixed up pretty soon. I should be 100 percent by the tour. It was rough at times, and I came close to dropping out to get the surgery done, but I had a lot of great doctors and a lot of great people who helped me out through this, so I’m blessed.”

On the support of his longtime girlfriend, Hannah Blackwell.

“She’s so excited for me. She’s helped me out a lot through this. I’m hoping she’ll be able to come on tour with me. It would be cool to have her there. She supported me throughout all this, and I love her to death.”

On how the couple deals with his bevy of female fans.

“If a girl votes for me because I’m cute and then gets mad if I have a girlfriend, then she didn’t really like the music. I’m all about the music. I’m not trying to be some cute guy who’s trying to be successful off of that. I really want the music to come first. I want people to try to feel it and have fun with it like I do.”

On his unique vocal style.

I’m not that great of a singer. I don’t feel I’m that great. I’m not outstanding. I can’t hit all these high notes and everything. I don’t know if it’s good or not, but I try to do something with my voice.”

On his debut album’s sound.

“Kind of like jazz and rock and acoustic stuff. I’m really excited to get it out there. It’s going to be cool.”

On rumors that Jennifer Lopez won’t be returning as a judge next season.

“That would be horrible. She’s done this for years and she knows her stuff. She cares about each one of us. She’s a great woman and hopefully she stays.”

On leaving his native Georgia to pursue his career.

“I’m most likely going to be moving. I’ve got to go after a lot of things and have to be in the right places [to do that], so I will probably be moving.”

On the upcoming summer “American Idol LIVE!” tour.

“I’m ready just to jam out. It’s going to be fun and hopefully the crowd’s feeling it, too.”