'American Idol' Winner Trent Harmon on His Big Moment & What's Next

Michael Becker/ FOX
Trent Harmon performs on American Idol on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Several months ago, when Trent Harmon was competing to earn a spot on American Idol for Hollywood Week, he was diagnosed with mono and encouraged to quit.

Harmon didn't give up, and on Thursday night's (April 7) series finale, the 25-year-old Mississippi native was crowned the 15th American Idol over fellow Mississippian La"Porsha Renae.

Competing during Hollywood Week at the Dolby Theatre is always a struggle, but Harmon's bout with mono was so bad he nearly threw in the towel. Harmon told reporters that he labored over his decision.

"I was so exasperated to a degree. The bathroom that is at the end of this level—I lived in that bathroom for four or five days," he said. "I was kind of quarantined."

Miserable and stuck in the bathroom, Harmon made a choice.

"It was in there that I decided all right, you can either quit and pack up your stuff because they told me, man you can quit. You look terrible," he said. 

He opted to push through it, instead, impressing the judges by performing in a group round all by himself and competing all the way be the final winner of American Idol.

The secret to winning, Harmon said, is simple: preparation.

"I quote one of my favorite basketball coaches, Mr. Bobby Knight," he said. "Everybody wants to win. Not everybody prepares to win. I prepared to win in July. I prepared to win 25 years ago when I was riding around in a tractor with headphones in my ears."

Harmon is set to get to work immediately with Big Machine Records President Scott Borchetta for a record the mentor described as a "Justin Timberlake country record."

Asked if he is up to the challenge of making that kind of album, Harmon simply said, "and how."

"To be mentioned in any kind of anything as JT is a big deal," he said. "It’s a lot of responsibility but I’m good with it."

Now that Harmon has won, he can finally breathe a little easier. He said that when he fell to his knees on stage after winning was to do just that.

"So much decompression got to leave my body in that moment. That’s why I fell on the ground because I finally got to take a breath. I haven’t taken a breath in almost a year, “ he said. "This may sound strange but it has. I am fully aware of the fact that all that happened tonight is that it got me to the bottom of the next level. That’s all I really wanted was I just wanted a fighting chance. This doesn’t put me at the top of radio, it doesn’t put me in the top 100, it just gets me to the bottom of the next level up and I’m good with that.”