LOS ANGELES (AP) — Randy Jackson is no longer in it to win it on "American Idol."
The longtime "Idol" judge bid farewell to the Fox talent competition during Thursday's 12th season finale, a showdown between vocal powerhouse Candice Glover and country singer Kree Harrison.
"I love everybody that walked on this show," said Jackson. He added, "Hopefully, I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine."
Jackson, the show's lone remaining original judge, announced last week that he's leaving "Idol" to focus on his record label and other business opportunities. The other judges are hip-hop diva Nicki Minaj, pop royalty Mariah Carey and country star Keith Urban.
Jackson has served as a judge on all 12 seasons of "Idol." He first appeared on the panel alongside Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul when the competition debuted in 2002, becoming famous for his easygoing "yo, dawg" rapport with contestants, famously telling them they were "pitchy" and "in it to win it."
Either Harrison or Glover will be awarded a record deal and could follow in the footsteps of such chart-topping winners as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood — or less successful champs like Lee DeWyze and Kris Allen.
Former "Idol" finalist Jennifer Hudson returned to the show for Thursday's finale to duet with Glover on Natalie Cole's "Inseparable."
Hudson was among the guest stars helping to fill out the two-hour finale show, including Psy, Frankie Valli, Emeli Sande, Jessie J and Aretha Franklin. Current "Idol" judges Urban, Carey — along with Jackson on bass — also performed.
During Wednesday's final performance round, Harrison, the soulful 22-year-old country singer originally from Woodville, Texas, sang Sarah McLaughlan's "Angel," Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain" and potential future single "All Cried Out."
"I think all three of your performances showcased your beautiful voice and your beautiful soul," said Minaj of Harrison.
Glover, the booming 23-year-old R&B vocalist from St. Helena Island, S.C., performed Adele's "Chasing Pavements," Ben E. King's "I (Who Have Nothing)" and potential future single "I Am Beautiful."
Jackson declared the finale a dead heat after Harrison and Glover performed their tunes.
"Dude, this is so close," he said.
Fox is a unit of News Corp.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .
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