Phillip Phillips bested 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez of San Diego on "American Idol" after a record 123 million votes were cast by viewers.

No female contestant has won the competition since Jordin Sparks in 2007, but Sanchez continued to receive positive criticism from the judges, who predicted a successful and lengthy singing career for her.

Sanchez, the daughter of a Mexican-American man and a woman from the Philippines, united the Mexican and Filipino communities of San Diego, which identified with her discrete and humble personal style, a marked contrast from her powerful and very mature singing.

In addition, she is the youngest competitor in the history of the program to make it to the final and the first who was saved by the judges after the public did not support her on a previous broadcast.

During the two-night "Idol" final, Sanchez's extended family gathered with hundreds of neighbors and members of the community in a couple of restaurants in her Chula Vista neighborhood to cheer her on. EFE