'American Idol' Season 17 Winner Laine Hardy Speaks out After Win

Laine Hardy is still in awe that he was crowned the newest American Idol during the singing competition's season 17 finale Sunday night. The 19-year-old told Entertainment Tonight backstage that he was feeling "so many different emotions."

"My mind is so overwhelmed right now with so many different emotions. I really need to let it sink in. It hasn't sunk in yet," Hardy said. "I'm still processing it but it's been a crazy night."

He reflected on the wild season, which he said was filled with "a lot of tough situations and a lot of mental stress." But now that it's over and he's been crowned the champion, it "feels great."

Hardy sang for his life alongside fellow finalists Alejandro Aranda and Madison VanDenburg Sunday night in a finale that could have been completely different, had he not auditioned for the show like he initially planned. The singer, who competed last season, told judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie when he accompanied a friend to her Idol audition that he wasn't going to audition again. However, after a bit of encouraging from the judges, he gave it another shot, got a Golden Ticket to Hollywood and delivered a slew of much-improved performances that paid off Sunday night.

"It goes to show you just don't give up," the Louisiana native said. "Never give up, because you never know what'll happen."

His thoughts were similar on social media, where he took to his Instagram Stories after the live episode to share his disbelief. "Omg y'all, so much going through my mind right now! Thank you so much for everything," he wrote.

laine-hardy
(Photo: Instagram / @thelainehardy)

"Is this real life," he captioned a shot of a card advertising him as the Idol winner. "What's even going on?"

The judges celebrated Hardy's win backstage and told ET that they hope they can return next year for season 3, which was renewed last week.

"We'd love to [come back]," Perry said.

"I think we collectively agree that we certainly enjoyed the role and each other," Bryan added. "And we're having fun with it."

"I must tell you, very few times in life do you find a group of people you actually love being around," Perry said. "I can't imagine being without them."

Bryan told Taste of Country that "All things feel positive that me and Lionel and Katy will be back. We're doing the business of the business." He said part of the reason for wanting to return to so he and his fellow judges can continue to mentor and encourage other aspiring singers.

"When Ryan Seacrest sends you a text message going, 'Thank you for really making this brand ... a great brand,' it's something that we're proud of," Bryan added. "It's something I enjoy doing. It's something that I work hard at."

0comments

Longtime host Ryan Seacrest also said he plans on returning for season 18. "My plan is to be back next year, of course," he told ET. "I can't imagine not doing this show."

Photo credit: Allen Berezovsky / Contributor / Getty