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He worked as a shoe salesman at a sporting goods store during the day to make ends meet and continued playing gigs in Little Rock and Fayetteville at night.
In the early stages of the season, he was among the finalists (along with Allison Iraheta) that received the least amount of screen time.
Allen's homecoming parade was greeted by a crowd estimated to be greater than 20,000.
Certain commentators labeled the win as an "upset" since runner-up Adam Lambert had received a significant amount of media attention throughout the season and was widely perceived to be the show's front-runner.Cowell agreed and said, "I had written you out of the competition but that has changed after that performance." This performance helped Kris move on to the finals and win.After being voted into the Top 3, Allen returned to Arkansas, filming the hometown material needed for the next two American Idol episodes.Cowell lauded it as Allen's "best performance so far." Allen subsequently received a signed record and other gifts from the original artists, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
On the second Top 7 show, Allen brought back the guitar for the fourth time and performed an original, acoustic version of "She Works Hard for the Money", complete with bongo drums and the band on stage.
On May 20, 2009, Kris Allen was declared the winner of the eighth season of American Idol, becoming the first married contestant to claim the title, as well as the sixth winner from the shows inception from Southern United States.