HOLLYWOOD – After over 63 million votes were tallied, this season's "American Idol" talent competition went to Taylor Hicks.
I caught up with the 29-year-old to get his perspective on the past five months, and what this victory means to him.
Straka: Does it feel any different today?
Hicks: Um, you know, I'm a little bit more relaxed. The pressure from the last five months has been crazy. Luckily for me and Katharine it's over with, we were the last two standing and we're in the home stretch. She's going to have a great career and hopefully I will too.
Straka: It only took you 10 years to become an overnight sensation.
Hicks: Yeah, 10 years and every one of those years was worth it, you know. It's amazing that the road that I've been on and the journey that I've taken and I want to say thanks to all the voters 'cause if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here.
Straka: Yesterday I talked with Chris Daughtry, and I asked him what he respected about you as a musician, because I really think Chris has a good following as a talented musician. He said, "You're a songwriter, man, you did the grind in the bars, playing for very little people for very little money."
Hicks: You know that teaches you a lot about whether you really want to stay in this business or not, because there are more bad times than there are good, paying dues. You really have to love your art and what you do, because dues will be paid, and it's the road that are those dues.
Straka: Anybody ever tell you you remind them of President Bill Clinton?
Hicks: (Laughs) Yeah, and you know Bill Clinton was one of my favorite presidents. I think he was one of the greatest politicians that ever lived, in my opinion.
Straka: What's next for you, movies, TV or singing?
Hicks: Rest and sleep right now (laughs). Music is my passion, that's going to carry me to the finish line.
Straka: A lot of people say your maturity is what separates you from the rest of the Idols. Does that give you the ability to better appreciate what you've just achieved?
Hicks: Yeah, I think appreciation is key. You can get lost in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and as soon as that appreciation gets lost, then it can be taken away from you like that. Being on the road and paying dues helps me appreciate an opportunity like this. I was at a crossroads in my career, working at a bank, supporting a band on the road, I chose "American Idol" and as soon as I was allowed to go through from the Vegas audition, it was an opportunity that I had to seize, and luckily I seized it.
Straka: Did you have any trepidation even auditioning for "American Idol"?
Hicks: I had some seconds, it didn't allow me to be who I was as an artist, as far as a songwriter goes, but I think it's a great way for people like me in this area that I live in to be able to be exploited vocally and a good way to get my talent heard.
Straka: You do have a lot of presence in the moment. Probably your greatest moment of the show came when you were walking in to find out if you made the top 12, and you had the harmonica. Was that something spontaneous or did you think "This is an opportunity for me to stand out"?
Hicks: Yeah, you have to premeditate your moves, especially in a competition where the stakes are so high, like this. You can't get lost in the moment in all this, you have to storm out, and luckily the harmonica helped me out.
Straka: Well, this is a very gracious winner of "American Idol," Soul Patrol all the way.
Hicks: Soul Patrol man, thank you so much.
Click here for more coverage of the "American Idol" finale from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles: www.foxnews.com/foxlife/americanidol/index.html
VIDEO: Watch Mike's Real Deal Web casts from the Idol red carpet.