Ukraine was crowned the winner Saturday of Eurovision Song Contest.
The contest tweeted the winner.
The Ukrainian band was the beneficiary of a last-minute wave of 439 votes from the television audience that put it in front.
Winning Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania” was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but became an anthem for the war-torn country.
“Indeed, some stuff in here was written long before the war, and it was dedicated to my mother,” frontman Oleh Psiuk told The Associated Press.
“After it all started with the war and the hostilities, it took on additional meaning, and many people started seeing it as their mother, Ukraine, in the meaning of the country,” he continued. “It has become really close to the hearts of so many people in Ukraine.”
The other countries’ artists who finished in the annual contest’s Top Five were: United Kingdom: Sam Ryder –Spaceman; Spain: Chanel – SloMo; Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer; and Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy celebrated the win in a statement on Telegram.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he said, according to an NBC News translation. “Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision!”
He said it would be the third time the country has hosted the contest. Zelenskyy vowed to someday host the event in the war-devastated city of Mariupol.
“We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol,” he said. “Free, peaceful, rebuilt!”
He thanked Kalush Orchestra for representing the country and emerging on top.
“I am sure that our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off,” Zelenskyy said.
Eurovision said Saturday in a statement that its separate jury voting process may have been the subject of “irregular” balloting.
As a result, it said, it substituted jury votes with an aggregate calculation for the last semi-final and the final. “The EBU takes any suspected attempts to manipulate the voting at the Eurovision Song Contest extremely seriously and has the right to remove such votes,” Eurovision’s European Broadcasting Union said.
The long-running singing competition show features artists representing each European country, and some non-European countries like Australia.
The contest’s Ukrainian commentator, Timur Miroshnychenko, did his job from a bomb shelter.
“This year, I think it’s more symbolic than ever because, of course, cause on 24th of February not one of us was thinking about Eurovision or stuff like that,” he said before Saturday’s announcement of a winner.
In February, the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, said Russia would be allowed to participate despite the country’s attack on Ukraine. However, less than 24 hours later, organizers reversed course and said no Russian act would be a part of the show.
“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute,” a statement read.
Dennis Romero contributed.