By Stephen M. Silverman
January 02, 2004 09:05 AM

He may make Clay Aiken look like Brad Pitt, but Norway’s “Pop Idol” Kurt Nilsen nabbed the “World Idol” crown on Thursday, when the doughy-looking, gap-toothed plumber triumphed in a singing competition with winners from 10 other countries.

In what is being considered an upset, the expected winner, “American Idol” Kelly Clarkson, 21, took second place, while Belgium’s Peter Everard came in third when the vote was announced on FOX TV Thursday night following a Christmas Day broadcast of the international singing competition.

Halfway through the voting process, Nilsen and Clarkson were tied in a dead heat, but the lock was broken as the hosts from 11 different countries chimed in with their findings.

“This is totally amazing,” said a thrilled and tearful Nilsen, 24, whose rendition of U2’s “Beautiful Day” had clearly done the trick. The young Norwegian won maximum points from nine of the 11 countries that voted in the contest.

“I love you guys,” he told the 10 other competitors.

Nilsen was the victor in the Norwegian version of “Pop Idol” in May. His single, “She’s So High,” went straight to No. 1 in the Norwegian singles chart and is the country’s biggest-selling single to date, reports the Associated Press.