Thomas Rhett was awarded Male Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards for the third time on Sunday, but the country star revealed that this win doesn't feel quite the same as the others. Speaking to reporters in a virtual press room after the show, Rhett shared that the honor "hit a little bit different" amid the global pandemic.
"I think with the year that we had last year, there was so many unknowns and a lot of sitting in your basement, writing songs with other people, and you never know where you stand as a country music artist, and tonight just hit different, man," he said before shouting out his fellow nominees, who included Luke Combs, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley and Chris Stapleton. "This is one of the most special male artist of the year awards I've ever received and in such good company, sitting there with Luke and Eric tonight, and Dierks. It was just a very special moment."
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Rhett added that sitting in the (socially distanced) audience with his friends "are the kinds of memories that you remember for forever." "Just getting to win this award, man," he gushed. "This is the toughest category in the world minus entertainer, and it was getting to sit there with friends of mine, just giving each other crap and just getting to have a good time with each other, it was very special. Very glad to take this home and this one's for my kids at home."
The "Country Again" singer first won Male Artist of the Year in 2017 and again in 2019. During his acceptance speech on Sunday, he thanked his wife, Lauren Akins, and their three daughters, who were watching from home. "I wish they'd been here so bad, but usually during award shows, my kids, this is kind of the first night of the year that they get to stay up past 7:30," Rhett told reporters. "And I remember leaving the house and I kissed them all on the head, and I said 'Y'all watch daddy on TV tonight.' And they're just like, 'Where are you going?' And I was like, 'I'm going somewhere else, but y'all just make sure you watch daddy on TV tonight.' So this is very cool to get to shout them out, and what a special award to win tonight."