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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Wendy Stott, David Archuleta's guidance counselor from Hillcrest Junior High School, weeps after hearing David Cook won "Idol."

It was like a punch in the gut.

About 4,000 fans, crowded inside the EnergySolutions Arena, gasped in disappointment Wednesday night as David Cook was handed the "American Idol" crown, beating Murray teen David Archuleta by 12 million votes.

Some people had arrived as early as 2:30 p.m. to cheer on Utah's Idol, waiting in anticipation until the winner was announced. The crowd, sporting orange Archuleta shirts and hundreds of banners, was being filmed for "hometown" segments shown on Fox's "Idol" finale.

Everyone in the arena seemed certain Archuleta would win.

"It took the collective breath right out of us," said Skippy Jessop, a 30-year-old avid fan after learning the results.

Other people were heard walking out of the arena describing Cook's win as a slap in the face. "No way," one girl said.

"I just don't see how it could have happened," said Richard Guymon of Highland.

Some of Archuleta's family was in attendance at the arena, including both his grandfathers. Wilfredo Mayorga, the father of Archuleta's mother, Lupe, said through a translator that he was not sad for his grandson.

"He is a winner already," Mayorga said in Spanish. "His future is brilliant."

James Archuleta, Archuleta's paternal grandfather, said before the results that he was proud of his grandson. He became emotional talking about Archuleta's talent.

"David is realizing a dream that he set for himself when he was 9 years old," James Archuleta said. "It is wonderful to watch your grandson live his dream."

Many people believe his dream will continue. Archuleta is scheduled to tour for the next three months with the top 10 finalists from "Idol." The tour will include two shows in Utah on July 14-15 at the E Center in West Valley City.

For Sandi Nelson of Saratoga Springs, Archuleta is an inspiration. She said he has touched her spirit through his songs and anticipates he will have a successful career.

Other fans were touched in a different way.

Hundreds of young girls at the arena Wednesday night were holding signs asking Archuleta to marry them. Even some men joined in the marriage theme, including Nolan Davis, 18, who had a sign saying "Future Mr. Archuleta."

"It's just a joke," Davis said, alluding to the fact that he liked Archuleta so much he would change his last name.

Emilee Demie and Torrie Webb, both 16, said before the finale that they were going to cry — no matter the results of Wednesday's show.

"He's hot," Webb said. "You can quote me on that."

Friends of Archuleta said his participation in the contest was a little bittersweet. Despite his second-place finish, they don't know when they will see him again.

Jessop said he would pay whatever necessary to see Archuleta when he performs again in Utah.

"Maybe," he said, "the next concert will be at a stake center."


E-mail: nwarburton@desnews.com; mbennett@desnews.com