As the audience gasped and shouted no, host Ryan Seacrest asked a shell-shocked-looking Daughtry, "Surprised?" "A little bit," he answered.
Judge Paula Abdul grew tearful. The other contestants – Elliott Yamin, Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks – also looked stunned.
Tuesday night, Daughtry's rendition of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" drew unanimous praise from the three judges, prompting Abdul to tell the 26-year-old from McLeansville, N.C.,: "See ya in the finals."
Still, before the booted contestant was revealed on Wednesday, Simon said McPhee should be the one to go.
On Tuesday, McPhee, 21, forgot the words to one of her Elvis songs prompting Simon to say: "It hasn't been one of your best nights," said Cowell.
The finalist will be named May 24.