Kris Allen was indeed the underdog going into the "American Idol" finale on Wednesday evening, and the vibe inside the Nokia Theater was definitely in favor of the more controversial, theatrical and incredibly "out there" California native Adam Lambert.
"Adam has the potential to be a star so overall you could say he deserves to win," Simon Cowell told Tarts on Wednesday afternoon. "But this is 'American Idol,' anything could happen and we could have an upset."
And an upset for Cowell it clearly was -- the outspoken judge was the only one not to give Allen a standing ovation when he was announced the 2009 winner as determined by a record-breaking 100 million votes.
So was it the Christian vote that prevailed in Allen's favor?
The 23-year-old UCA student has been on the worship team at New Life Church for years and helps with their outreach programs, but unlike previous winners such as Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood who made their faith very well known, Allen consciously refrained from making mention of his virtuous values throughout the competition.
"This is a singing competition, not a church thing," Allen told Tarts earlier this week while Lambert added that the "vote is based on talent and performing, not religion."
With Allen having shied away from the sectarian spotlight, his local church made up for it. The New Life Church in Greater Little Rock, Arkansas urged churchgoers to prayer and vote for the 'Idol' finalist, created a Facebook link on the church Web site in support of their hometown hero and his proud Pastor, Rick Bezet, flew to Los Angeles for the momentous finale.
"Kris has a personality type that is shown best in small groups and the public may not hear talking points about his faith, about himself, or his gifts," Pastor Bezet told Tarts on Wednesday. "He wins people over with authentic care and then he will share his faith at the right time, he tends to hold back on comments regarding himself. Some may think he is not confident in his humility, but Kris simply thinks more about others, but somehow not less about himself."
According to an 'Idol' insider, support for Kris most likely surged over the last week when Danny Gokey (who was extremely open about his involvement with the church) was voted off and thus Christians turned their full devotion to Allen who epitomizes the all-American, talented and moralistic role model.
Allen's surprise win may have also been a reflection of the growing market for Christian music. The Gospel Music Association recently reported that Christian/Gospel recorded music sales stand at almost half a billion annually and digital album sales were up 38 percent in 2008, while digital tracks were up over 37 percent.
"Churches go crazy with support! Thousands of churches twittering and facebooking! It's been a blast," Bezet also told us.
But when it comes to finding their 'Idol,' is America happiest without the bells and whistles?
"America had a grass roots campaign for a 'good ole boy!' There was just too much hype with Lambert. Everyone likes a person who just does the work," said Michael Sands, leading Hollywood Media Image Consultant. "I think the viewers would have been turned off if Kris pitched religion. The media picked up on Kris' Christian background so his handlers did not have to "force feed" the worldwide audience. The Christian belief is there sublimally, no over sell needed."
And even after conquering the biggest musical hurdle in television history, Allen was careful to play it cool ... and that cool attitude might be just what Allen needs to be propelled into stardom.
Talent manager Michael Schibel who runs The Schibel Group says Allen’s personality will be what takes him to the next level.
“Winning ‘American Idol’ has put him on a new level. His music got him in the door, but if he has a great personality, that will give him the chance to be a real star.”
But for now, Allen is ready to celebrate his victory.
"Everyone's really proud because not a lot happens in Arkansas so this is just one of the things they were really clinging onto," the reigning Idol told Tarts backstage after the announcement. "Hopefully I can celebrate by hanging out with friends and family, that would be great and college? I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon."
But Christian votes aside, Allen most likely scored alot of love from tweens and teens with his wholesome musical approach and good looks, and is already being marketed as a Zac Efron-type heart-throb. However, this 23-year-old student is newly married and looked particularly anxious backstage when his gorgeous blonde wife (who was excitedly trying to take pics with her hubby) was "conveniently" escorted away and needless to say, she didn't look too pleased about that either ...