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University of Central Missouri
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UCM Alumnus David Cook Named the New American Idol

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (May 22, 2008) - Garnering more than 54 million votes from fans across the country, UCM alumnus David Cook, Blue Springs, is the new “American Idol.

The results of the much-publicized showdown between the 25-year-old Cook and the other top contestant, David Archuleta, a 17-year-old from Murray, UT, were announced at the end of the two-hour results show which aired last night on the FOX Network. Votes were tallied after the live finale program, which was broadcast Tuesday, May 20.

Program announcer Ryan Seacrest said that Cook gained 56 percent of the total ballots. About 97.5 million votes were cast by phone, setting an “American Idol” record for ballots over the past seven seasons.

Earned Degree from UCM in 2006

After growing up in Blue Springs, Cook graduated from UCM in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts technology management. His younger brother, Andrew, who is currently a UCM student, joined him on stage shortly after the results were announced.

“This is amazing,” Cook said emotionally. Then he turned to his brother and added jokingly, “It’s all your fault.”

According to media reports, Cook got involved in “American Idol” after accompanying his brother to the audition. Although he had no plans to participate, he was talked into trying out by a producer.

Local Coverage Provided

The program showed glimpses of fans back in the Kansas City area who gathered at the Power and Light District to cheer on their favorite “Idol” contestant. Among them was his elementary school music teacher, Fredalyn Gentry, a UCM alumnus who was interviewed during the program. Cook has publicly thanked her for the influence she had on his life.

He entered last night’s results show appearing to be the underdog after judge Simon Cowell declared the finale performances a “knockout” in favor of Archuletta. Voters apparently thought otherwise as Cook, a rocker, generated 12 million more votes than the other contestant, who was known for his balladeer style. Both turned in strong performances throughout the season, and consistently won good reviews from the panel of three judges.

Appearances by Variety of Entertainers

Last night’s program was packed with appearances from a diverse group of entertainers such as actor/comedian Mike Myers, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, singers Bryan Adams, Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, Graham Nash and George Michael. With his guitar in hand, Cook took center stage with rock legends ZZ Top.

Also during the program, Seacrest handed Cook and Archuletta each a set of keys to new Ford SUVs, which they received for being in the finale. Cook received a recording contract as winner.