Just before host Carson Daly announced Tuesday night that Team Blake’s Jermaine Paul was the winner of this season’s The Voice on NBC, Paul tells PEOPLE that he “couldn’t look at anybody and allow myself not to believe. In that moment I prayed.”
“I didn’t feel good about the overall outcome,” he says. “I didn’t know if I was going to win or not.”
At the start of the finale, it seemed the odds were in favor of Team Cee Lo’s Juilet Simms, who came in second place, or Team Adam’s Tony Lucca, who ended up third.
“I am very shocked,” admits Paul. “I honestly was ready to accept not winning. But I’m so excited.”
As his pal Alicia Keys, for whom Paul used to sing backup, Tweeted after his win: “@JermainePaul deservesssss all of this!!!!! He has more talent in one hand…;-)))) congratulations brotha!!!!!!! Shine shine shine!!!!!!”
“She called me while I was up there on stage just to say how happy she was,” he says. “She, Swizz, her mom, and the baby were all sitting on the couch watching the show.”
As for his win, “It’s an amazing feeling,” says Paul. So was getting a huge hug and kiss from his wife, who rushed the stage as the confetti dropped and the celebrating began.
“She has been with me throughout this whole journey,” says Paul. “Leaving college, not going with basketball and going with music and sticking with it, having kids so young, and getting married even younger – it’s been a tumultuous journey for us.”
“I don’t feel as much proud as I do like one of those girls who was screaming for Justin Bieber and falling apart,” says coach Blake Shelton. “That’s what I feel like. Jermaine is a guy who has been in the shadows, but he’s stuck to his guns. ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ was the right thing to do.”