Crystal Bowersox Says She Won ‘American Idol’ ‘Vicariously Through Lee’

'I looked up at his confetti falling down, and I thought, 'This is my confetti,' ' she says.

As we’ve learned over the past two seasons, “American Idol” fans don’t like being told by the judges who will win the singing competition before we’re even to the top 12. Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox were the front-runners so early in their respective seasons that there was no room for growth — and both finished as the runner-up.

We caught up with Crystal on Friday (May 28) to find out the real story behind those quitting rumors , whether she expected Lee DeWyze to win and what she thinks about replacing Simon Cowell.

Q: A lot was made of the rumors that you nearly quit the show and then got talked out of it by Ryan Seacrest. What happened that day?

A: Ryan and I had a simple conversation as he was leaving out the backdoor for the day. I just happened to be standing there as he was walking out. He gave me some quick, good advice, and it was amazing. Ryan’s a good spirit. He’s a good man, he’s a hard worker, and I respect him for it. I never really had a true intention of quitting. It’s a hard process. People don’t realize how grueling the show is, the emotional and physical toll it takes on you. You have moments of — not necessarily doubt, but you get tired. And I missed my son, and I just had a nice conversation with Ryan, and he was very helpful.

Q: From the start, the judges were calling this a “girls’ season,” yet a guy won for the third year in a row. Were you expecting a woman to take home the crown this year?

A: It really is up to the voting public. Any predictions made at the beginning of the season for a female winner, it’s not possible to know. When I became the last girl standing, it became clear to me then that it definitely was possible — however, it wasn’t guaranteed.

Q: Were you surprised Lee won, or did you expect it?

A: I woke up on Wednesday morning, and I just had an overwhelming sense of peace and acceptance and a strange feeling inside of me: I knew Lee was going to win, and I was fine with that, because he’s worked so hard.

Q: Ryan really dragged out the winner announcement. What were you thinking before he called Lee’s name?

A: If you watch the video back, I think I mouthed the words “Come on, Ryan.” It is frustrating when he does it, but he’s a very smart man and knows what’s good for TV — and making our hearts beat out of our chests. I wanted to know for sure. I wanted to know if my feeling was right, and I wanted to celebrate for Lee. When I saw Lee’s face, and he was about ready to pass out, I just felt everything he was feeling. We’ve been together through this whole process and understand each other completely and how much we’ve worked for. I looked up at his confetti falling down, and I thought, “This is my confetti. I’ve won vicariously through Lee,” because I could empathize so much.

Q: How have you balanced the show with being a mom?

A: I balanced it the same way any other mother does: greet each day with love and joy because you have your child in your life. You wake up, take care of him, go to work, come back home, and at the end of the day, that’s what any mom would do.

Q: People were surprised to hear that you broke up with the father of your son this week. What happened?

A: Tony’s been my rock through all of this. He’s been there for me, and he’s been amazing. And I’ve got a great amount of respect and love for him. It was a mutual thing. He’s a small-town guy and wants a simple, quiet life, and I respect that. This is my career. This is what I’ve strived for my whole life, and I want to do this for my son. We’re gonna be OK. We’re gonna be friends for a long time.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on who should replace Simon?

A: Simon is such an epic figure in the show. “Replace” is not a good word for me. Simon is irreplaceable, in the sense that he’s Simon. He’s just such a figure. Whoever takes his position is going to do a great job and bring something new to the show. I think it will keep things interesting, and best of luck to whoever gets the spot and to Simon.

Will you follow Crystal’s post-”Idol” career? Let us know in the comments!

Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.