November 02, 2016 11:45 PM

He’s one of the highest selling artists in American history, and now the CMAs are paying their due. Garth Brooks was awarded with the 2016 entertainer of the year award Wednesday night after an emotional introduction from none other than country-turned-pop queen Taylor Swift.

“Very sweet,” said a visibly touched Brooks as he took the stage and accepted the statuette from Swift.

The 54-year-old was quick to thank his wife, fellow country superstar Trisha Yearwood. Or, as he calls her: “The coolest touring mate you could ever ask for, the love of my life, the breath I breathe in and out, Miss Yearwood.”

And the love-fest wasn’t over. “It could not have ended any better for me,” he told the crowd, before turning his gaze to his wife in the audience. “I get to take you home,” he said with a warm smile.

“I want to thank God for this,” he continued. “I want to thank the CMAs, you’re very sweet. Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful run.”

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“That first time, you feel like the label has pulled together for you. This one, we don’t belong to a label, so we’ve had a lot of people go against the tide for it,” Brooks told PEOPLE backstage after his win. “I walked away with this for the band and crew — the band and crew deserve this but I don’t. They do. I watch them every night.”

Brooks has previously won nine CMA awards since 1990 — including four for entertainer of the year — but this is his first since 1997, when he was riding high in the charts with Sevens.

  • Reporting by EILEEN FINAN

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