Luke Bryan Wins First CMA Award, Hugs Garth Brooks

He Claims Entertainer of the Year

After four years of nominations, Luke Bryan finally collected his first CMA Award — entertainer of the year — on Wednesday night (Nov. 5) at the 48th annual CMA Awards in Nashville.

For the last four years, Bryan has watched from his seat as his friends in the music business collected CMA trophies. Even at this year’s ceremony, he was passed over in the male vocalist and album categories, and competition was high for entertainer of the year — the biggest award of the night.

When his name was called, he fought back tears, then made his way to the podium. There, he found Garth Brooks waiting. After an embrace, Bryan stepped to the microphone and said, “First of all, I’ve never met Garth. Hey, Garth. Can I hug you again?”

In the wave of emotions, the Georgia native took a moment to remember a few family members.

“I have some angels in heaven,” he said. “My brother and sister are up there and making this night possible for me.”

He also eyed some of his fellow nominees and complimented them as “heroes down here in the front row.” He also thanked his wife and manager in his remarks.

This being Bryan, though, the party mood ultimately prevailed. He wrapped up his comments with a cheery announcement: “We’re gonna have a good time tonight!”

After the hubbub died down, Bryan posed with the winning envelope backstage and posted the photo on his official Twitter page. The caption was simple: “Love y’all so much.”

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.