David Cook

Rock Idol

UPDATED 06/09/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/09/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

David Cook

David Cook

What's it like to win American Idol? David Cook isn't really sure yet. "I need a couple more days to wrap my head around what happened," says the 25-year-old Missouri rocker, who topped runner-up David Archuleta by a landslide 12 million votes. "It's such a life-changing thing." And a bittersweet victory: Cook's brother Adam, 36, has been battling brain cancer but was able to attend the May 21 finale. David wipes away tears as he talks about dealing with his brother's struggle during the competition. "I know that he's proud, and that is kind of getting me through at this point," he says. "He's still fighting, which is all we can ask for right now." His mom, Beth Foraker, and brother Andrew joined Cook onstage after his win: "I loved that I got to share that moment with them."

Cook, who was tending bar in Oklahoma less than a year ago, is now getting used to paparazzi, who recently caught him stepping out with season 2 Idol alum Kimberly Caldwell, 26, to Ruth's Chris steak house in L.A., after he asked her out live on the TV Guide Channel's Idol Tonight preshow. Cook, who says he's "single-ish," finds all of the female attention "very, very new." And odd. "I'm thinking, where was that before the show?" he jokes. "I'm just a nerd. I'm a goofball. You guys might want to get to know me a little bit more."

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