updated 05/17/2013 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 05/17/2013 AT 5:15 PM ET
Time slowed down, and when the moment of truth arrived, Candice Glover and Kree Harrison both found themselves muttering the other’s name – each believing the night belonged to their close friend and rival.
“I was saying her name, because I was just certain he was going to say it, so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, Kree, Kree, Kree,’ and she was like, ‘No, Candice, Candice, Candice,’ ” a stunned Glover told reporters shortly after Wednesday’s American Idol finale.
In the end, Harrison was right. But while there is only one American Idol, these two women both found, in each other, a friend for life.
“We tell each other we love each other probably 90,000 times a day,” Glover said. “But it really meant a lot for her to hug me and say, ‘I love you, and I’m so happy for you.’ And I said the same to her. I’m so proud of her.”
For her part, Harrison was pinching herself just taking in the moment.
“Honestly, the whole night was magical,” she said. “We kept looking at each other asking, ‘What are we doing?’ The fact that I kept looking down and seeing my whole family – my brother is here – I felt so relieved to have the support that I have had.”
She added: “We are both so driven for each other’s careers, and I just felt like it was the beginning. This is not the end of the road for any of us. I’m so proud of her, and I am proud of myself for getting this far, and I couldn’t believe I was standing there with her at the finale.”
“I’m still trying to process it. I don’t even know my name!” she gushed. “It feels amazing, though, to finally have gotten to this point after working so hard for so long.”
“I think for the top 10, they got it right,” Keith Urban added. “Whoever is going to win at that point is pretty darn good. And when you can hold your own against Jennifer Hudson, you are a serious singer. That’s all I’ve got to say.”
Glover and Harrison, both just 23, have promising careers ahead of them, and it all begins now. “I get to go on tour,” said Harrison. “Then I just want to make a record. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Glover is working on an album, too. But amid the glitz and glamour of Thursday’s circus, the exhausted winner had a more immediate goal in mind. “I don’t think I’m going to get the chance to sleep tonight,” she said, “but I’m going to try and sleep as much as I can.”