Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett Tie for Historic ACM Entertainer of the Year Win: '2020, Man!'
During Wednesday night's remote telecast, 2020 ACMs host (and last year's entertainer of the year) Keith Urban announced that Underwood, 37, and Rhett, 30, had both won the award, adding he had "never heard of" there being two winners in the category before.
"Oh my goodness gracious. Keith, what is happening right now?" said Thomas Rhett, who was announced first. "Thank you to the Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Thank you so much my wife, my baby girls who are watching this right now, Willa Gray, I love you. Ada James, I love you. Lennon, I love you. To my management, to my record label, to my publishers, to LiveNation and everyone has made this possible — my band and crew, who have put in countless hours just making our show what it is. Thank you to the fans."
After Thomas Rhett's speech, Urban presented Underwood with her trophy.
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"2020, man!" Underwood quipped as she accepted the award. "Thank you, God, so much. All Glory, glory to God. And thank you to the ACMs, not just for this, but for putting me in such incredible company. I am more than happy to share this with Thomas Rhett and just to have my name mentioned with his and Luke and Luke and Eric Church. I am beyond honored. Thank you, fans, for coming out to see us, spending your hard-earned money. [The] band, crew and everybody that makes those shows happen. You guys, hold on, it will happen again. Just hold on."
The wins mark Thomas Rhett's first and Underwood's third for entertainer of the year.
Underwood ended her speech by thanking the ACMs for their thorough protocols during the pandemic, adding: "You guys made us all feel safe and you work so hard and I'm just really glad that we got to celebrate. Thank you so much. Thank you for this. God bless."
Following his win, Rhett told PEOPLE: "Just to be in a category is next-level, and to win it alongside somebody like Carrie Underwood is absolutely bucket list for me, especially in such a weird year. This is just absolutely mind-blowing to me."
Underwood told PEOPLE: "They made two. In the age of COVID, we can’t be sharing — I don’t know if I get to keep this one or if they’re going to send me a different one. But I am more than happy to share, you know, it’s such a great honor and so many of us work hard, and usually you say, ‘Well, there can only be one.’ Well, this year we get to say there can be two. I think it’s all great."
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Underwood is the first woman to win the entertainer of the year award three times and is also the first woman to take home the prize since Taylor Swift in 2012; she was the only woman nominated this year.
".... @carrieunderwood for Entertainer of the Year," tweeted Ballerini after Underwood performed a medley of songs at the Grand Ole Opry by country queens Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton.
"Patsy and Loretta, Martina and Barbara, Reba and Dolly. These strong voices mean so much to me and to all the other female artists who stand on their shoulders," Underwood said before her performance. "They are some of my heroes, and I am so honored to stand alongside them as a fellow member of the Grand Ole Opry. It's my pleasure to pay tribute to these legendary ladies as we celebrate the Opry's 95th anniversary."
Thomas Rhett, who was also up for male artist of the year and video of the year for "Remember You Young," performed "Beer Can't Fix" with Jon Pardi at Ryman Auditorium. His fourth LP Center Point Road was up for album of the year.
The five entertainer of the year nominees kicked off the show performing a medley of their hits.
This year's broadcast was originally scheduled for April 5 in Las Vegas but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Rhett and Morris lead the pack for most nods with five each.
The 55th annual ACM Awards aired live from Nashville on Sept. 16 from 8-11 p.m. on CBS.