Blake Shelton is over the moon after “The Voice” crowned its Season 22 winner on Dec. 13. During the highly-anticipated finale, the 22-year-old Statesboro, Georgia, resident, Bryce Leatherwood was given the highly-coveted title. Of course, since Shelton was Leatherwood’s coach, he couldn’t help but be proud of the Georiga native. After America named its winner, Shelton took to Instagram to pen a message saying how proud he was of this team member.
“YOUR SEASON 22 @nbcthevoice WINNER EVERYBODY!!!! BRYCE LEATHERWOOD!!!! I’m such a proud coach.. @bryceleatherwood, you are so damn deserving of this. Thank you America and GET READY WORLD!!! #TeamBlake #TheVoice”
Leatherwood’s crowing marks a record-setting ninth win for Shelton. However, it’s bittersweet for Shelton considering the country music star will leave the popular NBC singing competition series for the first time in over a decade after Season 23.
After the finale, the coach-contestant duo chatted with PEOPLE about their exciting win — which Leatherwood said he never expected.
“It’s just so humbling to know that people love Bryce Leatherwood,” the newly-minted winner said. “People love what I stand for. People love my music and how I sang. It took me by surprise that America chose me. I just think my goal in life is to make people happy, and America made me happy today. I’m very excited to be “The Voice” champion of season 22.”
Earlier in the show, his coach hit the stage and sang his hit “Hillbilly Bone” alongside Leatherwood. According to Shelton, Leathwood reminds him of his younger self.
Blake Shelton says he sees a young version of himself in ‘The Voice’ winner
“I see a lot of myself in Bryce,” Shelton admitted. “I guess the thing that I can relate to is it’s still all out in front of him right now, and who knows where this thing is going to go for him? When I think of myself at that age, I was hoping someday I would just hear myself on the radio. At that time, all my heroes were on the radio, and if I could just hear myself on the radio, mission accomplished. He’s about to enter into a completely different jungle than I experienced, but he’s going to do great.”
Now, the journey is just beginning for the rising singer. Leahthwood will be given a Universal Music Group record deal and a $100,000 grand prize thanks to his new title. Although his world is about to get crazy, Shelton wants Leatherwood to know he’s always “here for him.”
“He won the show and people love him and support him,” Shelton said. “Now he’s got to make tough decisions going forward about what’s best for him to get his music out to people that voted for him and then find the ones that don’t even watch “The Voice,” which it’s hard to imagine that there are those people out there. There must be something wrong with them!”