The star-studded finale featured performances by Jennifer Hudson, the Black Eyed Peas, Luke Combs, Lady Antebellum and Dua Lipa

By Brianne Tracy and Darlene Aderoju
December 17, 2019 11:05 PM
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Congratulations, Jake Hoot!

The 31-year-old Cookeville, Tennessee, resident — who has become known for his country sound — was crowned the winner of season 17 of The Voice on Tuesday night.

The win came as a complete shock to Hoot, who didn’t see it coming. “It means the world,” he said of his victory. “I think I went out of breath. I lost all my breath when they announced my name.”

“Having Kelly believe in me from the get-go and being here tonight is just an incredible thing,” he added. Hoot told reporters backstage that he “didn’t think it was real” as he continued to return to the show week after week.

Kelly Clarkson and Jake Hoot
Trae Patton/NBC

“From the get-go, for a little bit, I didn’t think it was real. Every step of the way, I’m like, ‘All right honey, I’ll be home next week’ or ‘I’ll be home after battles’ or ‘I’ll be home after knockouts.’ I continued to doubt myself and Kelly continued to encourage me,” Hoot said.

“If I can say anything, it’s stop doubting yourself. Get out of your comfort zone. Get out there and take a chance and there’s no telling what you can do.”

Jake Hoot
Trae Patton/NBC

Hoot’s win marks the third victory for coach Kelly Clarkson, who first won season 14 with contestant Brynn Cartelli and then went on to win season 15 with contestant Chevel Shepherd.

“I just sat there and encouraged him. I’m a pretty good cheerleader because I love humans. I literally am a glorified cheerleader y’all, I did nothing. He did everything,” Clarkson told reporters of Hoot.

Hoot beat out team Gwen Stefani’s Rose Short, team John Legend’s Katie Kadan and team Blake Shelton’s Ricky Duran.

Kelly Clarkson, Jake Hoot
Tyler Golden/NBC

As for how Hoot is ringing in his victory, he explained, “I’m going to be celebrating with my girls.”

“This has been an incredible experience and I will say the hardest part is just being gone from them. So any time I get to spend with them tonight, I’m looking forward to. Snuggles all the time,” Hoot said.

Jake Hoot
Trae Patton/NBC

Hoot was born in Texas, but his missionary parents relocated the family to the Dominican Republic when he was 9 years old. While living in the Dominican Republic, he began singing and playing guitar while also becoming fluent in Spanish. At 20, he moved to Tennessee where he started doing gigs while attending Tennessee Tech University as a walk-on football player.

Throughout his time on the show, Hoot impressed week after week with his renditions of songs like The Eagles’ “Desperado,” Trace Adkins‘ “You Lie.”

Jake Hoot with Little Big Town
Tyler Golden/NBC

While speaking with reporters after the semifinals show on Dec. 9, Hoot anticipated that his relationship with Clarkson wouldn’t end with the finale.

“She’s told all of us, with her show and her traveling and playing, that we’re always invited and welcome,” Hoot said. “I definitely believe her. She has been so invested since we’ve been a part of this. I definitely believe that we’ll see her again.”

When asked how he’s going to manage life on the road with a 4-year-old daughter (whom he shares with his ex-wife), Hoot said that’s on the “top” of his mind since he’s currently dating a woman who also has a 4-year-old child.

“If an opportunity comes up, you sit down with your family and pray about it and talk to the label and whoever else,” he said. “They will always be my priority, whether they have to come with me a little bit or whether I have to fly back over night just to spend a couple of hours with them. Whatever happens, they’ll always be the priority.”

Jake Hoot and girlfriend
Trae Patton/NBC

Hoot said his success on the show has taught him about the extent of his abilities.

“I play a lot of college bard and breweries back home and the idea of playing on that kind of stage on live television was always something where I was like, ‘Oh, that will never happen,'” he said. “I learned that I can go out on a stage like that and sing and perform.”

Ricky Duran, Katie Kadan, Rose Short, Jake Hoot
Trae Patton/NBC

Duran, 30, just missed out on the top spot. The Austin, Texas, resident whose guitar-playing skills impressed almost as much as his bluesy sound was on longtime coach Shelton‘s team.

Kadan — a 38-year-old Chicago native known for her bold style and soulful voice — was awarded third in the competition while Short took fourth place in the competition.

Ricky Duran, Jake Hoot
Tyler Golden/NBC

The star-studded finale also featured performances by Jennifer Hudson, the Black Eyed Peas, Luke Combs, Lady Antebellum, Dua Lipa and last season’s winner, Maelyn Jarmon.