X Factor winner James Arthur today toasted the "spirit of the North East" for his victory and hit back at the show's haters as "hypocrites".
The 24-year-old from Saltburn, near Middlesbrough, thanked his legion of fans back home for helping his battle for stardom.
"Thank you for the unconditional support and love," he said.
"Without them I may not have got this far, cos I'm sure that, knowing the North East spirit, they got behind their own.
"The show has produced a lot of talent from the North East, it has nurtured people like Amelia Lily and the girls from Little Mix and Joe McElderry, I would like to carry on flying the flag for the North East."
Arthur gave a series of interviews from a five-star suite at the The Lowry Hotel in Manchester but was "keeping it real" by chomping on a McDonalds for his lunch.
"I didn't have any money before this and now hopefully I will make a little bit," he said.
"I'm living in five star hotels, I was in a bedsit before this, my music was being heard by a few people before this, now millions of people are hearing it," he said.
"I'm just achieving goals, left right and centre and I just feel incredibly lucky because I never thought it would happen. The contrast in lifestyles is huge."
And Arthur said the show's knockers who claim falling ratings show the public have fallen out of love with Simon Cowell's creation are wrong.
"I disagree, I think people would miss it if it was gone," he said.
"You know it's funny because I think all the people who say they hate it, watch it, and I think a lot of people who say they hate it are hypocrites because they all comment on it and people always talk about it, so whether you love it or hate it, I bet they're sat in front of the telly on Saturday night watching it.
"I think it's still one of the most watched things on TV. Everybody talks about it.
"And I think this year those people who hated it were converted a little bit by the likes of Lucy and Ella and hopefully myself because we write our own stuff and play our own instruments and we haven't compromised ourselves and dressed up in pink leotards.
"I think this year has been the best year ever because the X Factor have encouraged real genuine singer-songwriters who play their own instruments, who write their own songs, to come and audition and I'm not exactly Justin Bieber and I have just won the X Factor so what does that say?"
Re-living the moment of his victory, Arthur said: "You see that moment on TV for years, the last two, there's genuinely not a lot going on.
"It's just kind of shock and buzzing, there's ten, 12 thousand people screaming, you are just in a bit of a whirlwind."
After the show was "manic", Arthur said, but he got to enjoy a "couple of beers" with friends and family.
And there was "floods of tears" as he was embraced by his biggest fans, mum Shirley, and sisters Sian, 26, Jasmin, 18 Charlotte, 18 and Neve, 12.
"She's proud man, very proud. Floods of tears. My older sister especially, because we grew up together and it was just a huge shock to see her little brother do that."
Arthur said he wants to get in the studio to start on his album as soon as he can and is determined to seize his chance of fame and not sink without a trace like some of X Factor's past winners.
"I just think you have got to bring out good music. That's the bottom line, maybe the albums that have been brought out by winners in the past haven't been that strong."
Show bosses are reported to be planning changes to the format after viewing figures fell to a seven-year low.
Saturday's episode was watched by an average audience of 9.5 million - its worst showing since 2005 when 9.2 million watched Shayne Ward triumph - and trailed its BBC1 rival Strictly Come Dancing by 1.3 million viewers.
According to The Sun, the next series will start during the school term and the Saturday shows will be moved to earlier in the schedule in a bid to capture the imagination of young fans.
Bosses are also said to be planning to axe the arena auditions in favour of a more low-key approach.
A spokeswoman for the show said: "The series has only just ended but of course we'll review the production, as we do with all our long-running shows. No details on next year's show have been decided yet."
The X Factor tour starts in January.