Luke Bryan started and ended his ACM Entertainer of the Year acceptance speech with bear hugs.
“I’m up here with Steven Tyler!” exclaimed the country superstar, who first embraced a lucky fan upon hearing the rock legend read his name as the winner.
“What an amazing night of music. To be here in Texas with so many heroes that got awarded tonight, so many wonderful things. . . Thank you, Capitol, UMG, my wife. . . my kids at home, my fans,” Bryan continued, before his co-host Blake Shelton joined him onstage for a hearty congratulatory hug.
This is the second time the Georgia native has taken home ACM Entertainer of the Year, the Academy of Country Music’s top honor. He first won the award in 2013, also winning Vocal Event honors that year for his “The Only Way I Know” collaboration with Jason Aldean and Eric Church. Bryan again won Vocal Event this year, for “This Is How We Roll” with Florida Georgia Line. The 38-year-old singer has seven career ACM victories and has co-hosted the show with Shelton for the past three years.
Entertainer of the Year is one of two fan-voted categories for the ACM Awards. The other, New Artist of the Year, went to Cole Swindell, a fellow Georgian who used to sell T-shirts for Bryan on the road.