There were no surprises at the Academy of Country Music Awards until the last envelope of the night was opened. After she missed out on major awards for best album and female vocalist, Taylor Swift pulled off a stunning victory as the ACM's entertainer of the year.
On hearing the news while she was seated in the audience, Swift dropped her head into her hands, gasped, "Oh, my God," and hugged two stars she beat for the prize -- Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert -- then headed to the stage to claim the honor from Ryan Seacrest.
"This is the first time I ever won this and I'm just losing my mind!" she proclaimed while looking dazed at the podium. "We just got back from Asia and Europe on tour and thank you for this wonderful welcome-home gift and thanks for not forgetting about me. The fact that this is from the fans -- you are the best thing that has ever happened to me! Ever!"
Perhaps the award's outcome shouldn't be considered too surprising for two reasons. It usually honors the country star who's had the biggest music tour of the year and it has a different voting method than the other ACM Awards, which are chosen by members of the Academy of Country Music. The entertainer of the year award is decided by fans voting online and this year Taylor Swift was not nominated against her country nemesis who won the previous two years: Carrie Underwood.
Academy voters came up with predictable results in the other categories. One year after Lambert received a standing ovation performing "The House That Built Me" at the ACM Awards, the tune returned to win four laurels. Three were for best song, single and video of the year. Previously it won best song and music video of the year at the rival awards bestowed by the Country Music Assn. Lambert also won the prize for best female country vocalist over Swift and Underwood, the same prize she recently claimed at the Grammys for crooning "The House That Built Me." It was the second year in a row that she snagged the ACM trophy.
Paisley won the male vocalist prize for a fifth straight year. He accepted it saying: "I am honestly shocked. This is way too many of these for me."
Following up on their recent Grammy victories for best record and song for "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum won best album of the year, as expected. Last year they won ACM Awards for best single and song for "Need You Now," but the album wasn't eligible until this year.
Below, ACM Award winners are marked with an asterisk.
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR