“American Idol” crowns Abi Carter season 22 winner as Katy Perry departs the judging panel

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"This is my dream and I know it's just the beginning," wrote the 21-year-old singer.

American Idol has crowned its latest winner.

Abi Carter, the 21-year-old musician from Indio, Calif., won the popular vote on Sunday evening, making her the latest contestant to sing their way to success on the Idol stage. During the season finale, she was crowned the champion of season 22, beating runner-ups, Will Moseley and Jack Blocker.

"HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE!??!?!?!?," Carter wrote on Instagram, following the live finale. "I couldn't have imagined winning #AmericanIdol when I started this whole journey. We haven't had a girl winner in over 4 years and to be the first after so many seasons is the greatest honor."

She added, "I'm just a girl from Indio, who used to sing on street corners, and now I've had the pleasure and privilege to work with some of the most talented people in the industry and be heard by millions of people. This is my dream and I know it's just the beginning. I love you all so much."

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<p>Eric McCandless/Disney</p> Abi Carter on 'American Idol'

Eric McCandless/Disney

Abi Carter on 'American Idol'

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Carter first wowed the judges, the audience and even the show’s crew when she auditioned with an intimate piano rendition of Billie Eilish’s Barbie track, “What Was I Made For.” The judging panel of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan made it abundantly clear that they were blown away.

"We don't have to vote," Richie said, following a standing ovation from the judges.

"Thank you for being an example of singing from your heart," added Perry. "What were you made for? You were made for this. 100%."

"That may be the winner of American Idol," Luke Bryan said at the time. "I've never heard the crew clap."

Carter revisited her audition song after her win was announced, singing it once more before her fellow contestants emerged for one final embrace to celebrate her moment.

The three hour finale — which included guest performances from Jon Bon Jovi, 2004 winner Fantasia Barrino, Jason Mraz, Wynonna Judd, Seal, and New Kids on the Block — was especially eventful because it also marked the final episode for Perry after seven years on the judging panel.

<p>Eric McCandless/Disney</p> Katy Perry on 'American Idol'

Eric McCandless/Disney

Katy Perry on 'American Idol'

Related: Lionel Richie weighs in on Katy Perry's American Idol exit: 'My phone blew up'

The “Wide Awake” singer announced her departure from the series earlier this year on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I love Idol so much. It's connected me with the heart of America,” she said at the time. “But I feel like I need to go out and feel that pulse to my own beat, you know what I'm saying, Jimmy?" She also teased upcoming projects in the works, including new music.

During the finale, Idol sent Perry off with a reel of highlights, including some of her wackiest moments throughout her years on the show. She also took to the stage one last time for a performance of her track  “What Makes a Woman” with finalist Jack Blocker. Initially seated, for the song, Perry rose to reveal an expansive dress plastered with the faces of Idol contestants from across her 7 tear her run.

American Idol has been renewed for a season 23, though a replacement for Perry has yet to be announced.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.