Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- When Lee DeWyze woke up Friday morning, it finally hit him. He had won "American Idol."
"I really got a sense of it today ... I got some rest last night, so I got to wake up and really think about everything," DeWyze told CNN's "Larry King Live" Friday night. "It's just, it's incredible. Putting it in words is hard."
DeWyze, a paint salesman from Chicago, Illinois, was announced the winner of Fox's "American Idol" on Wednesday night, edging out fellow 24-year-old Crystal Bowersox, a single mother from Elliston, Ohio, affectionately known as "MamaSox" to her fans.
Asked if she would have done anything differently during the competition, Bowersox said not a thing.
"Personally, I live my life without regrets," she said in the interview with DeWyze and other "Idol" finalists. "I try to make the most of every moment, and if you do that every day, then you don't have any regrets."
The contestants said participating in the popular Fox series is a tricky experience. Months of working and living alongside each other make it hard to distinguish new friends from tough competitors.
"I hung out with these amazing artists for so long ... they're all so talented that it's almost hard to say that's the one [to beat] or that's the one because there's so much talent in one room," DeWyze said. "And it can get intimidating at time because you want, you know, to be the best."
Added Bowersox: "We both wanted to win. But, you know, I'm proud of Lee and I'm sure he is proud of me. We just tried to do our personal best every week -- and look at the outcome. I mean this is amazing that we made it here."
Bowersox and DeWyze first met months ago when they were waiting to audition for the show in Chicago.
After host Ryan Seacrest revealed him as the winner, an emotional DeWyze performed his rendition of U2's "Beautiful Day" while sparklers and confetti rained down from the rafters at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
The finale also marked the end of Simon Cowell's nine-season run on the show as the often-critical and sometimes foul-tempered head judge many contestants both feared and respected.
Former "Idol" judge Paula Abdul returned to the show to participate in a tribute to Cowell, along with many former winners, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino.
The night also featured performances from Janet Jackson, Alanis Morrisette, Joe Cocker and Christina Aguilera.
"It's pretty incredible. I remember when we were sitting there before we went on stage for our Joe Cocker number," Bowersox said of her performance with DeWyze and the legendary singer. "We were looking at each other -- 'Are we really about to go perform with Joe Cocker on stage right now?' "
While DeWyze and Bowersox said they could see themselves as potential winners while competing for the top seat, others weren't as certain.
"I believe in myself. I just didn't think that the competition would be an outlet that I would be able to excel at," said third-place competitor Casey James, known as much for his skills at the guitar as his long, golden locks. "I'm more of a musician than a singer."