Sam Ryder said he was feeling “fantastic” and that he would have a family curry as soon as he got home, landing in the UK a day after finishing second in the Eurovision Song Contest.
The British hope delighted fans at home by topping the national jury with 283 points, beating favorites Spain and Sweden in the country’s best result in 20 years.
As the jubilant singer landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on Sunday night, he wore a pink Kalush Orchestra hat and celebrated the Ukrainian winners of this year’s competition, held in Turin, Italy.
Wearing a champagne-shaped balloon and a Union Jack flag, Ryder said he felt “amazing” and added that it had been an “incredible experience, such a rewarding experience”.
He claimed he “didn’t expect reception”, pausing to take selfies and chat with fans who were awaiting his arrival on a flight from Milan.
“It’s just nice to come home and feel that joy and love that we’ve felt all along, even though I’m tired now – I just want to focus on getting a good night’s sleep,” he said.
When asked what the first thing he would do when he got home, Ryder laughed and replied, “Have a curry with my family.”
More than eight million people in Britain tuned in on Saturday to see Ryder’s Eurovision triumph.
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The 32-year-old TikTok star wowed audiences with his uplifting pop song Space Man, dazzling in a pearl and beaded one-piece suit.
In a statement, the BBC said: “Sam’s performance was just out of this world and we couldn’t be prouder of him as he achieved the UK’s best result in 20 years at the Eurovision Song Contest, including winning the jury vote .
“The performance of the Kalush Orchestra was incredible and evoked an unparalleled reaction both in the arena and around the world – we congratulate Ukraine on their victory.”
An average of 8.9 million people tuned in to watch the competition on BBC One, with a peak viewership of 10.6 million, the company said.
Last year, 7.4 million people watched as British hopeful James Newman scored zero and finished bottom of the rankings.
This year’s competition was won by the Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra with their song Stefania.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a Facebook post: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!”
“Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!
“For the third time in its history. And I think – not for the last time.”
Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Osterdahl said in a statement that the organization’s attention was focused on next year’s competition and its “unique challenges”.
Ryder rose to fame by covering songs on TikTok during lockdown, amassing 12 million followers and attracting the attention of global stars like Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.
He was chosen in a new collaboration between the BBC and global music management company TaP Music, which also overhauled the advertising campaign.
The new strategy included ensuring Ryder’s single “Space Man” was played on BBC Radio 1 rather than Radio 2 and targeted smaller countries such as San Marino, Serbia, Croatia and Malta, which have the same voting rights as larger countries such as Germany.
Still up in space man! 👩🚀🙏Thank you all for being full of love, positivity and kindness during this wild and euphoric experience. We completely felt your support and we really appreciated it 💛 pic.twitter.com/GBQs0pJgw3
— Sam Ryder 👩🚀 (@SamRyderMusic) May 15, 2022
In his first series of posts on Twitter since the competition, Ryder said: “Still up in space, man! Thank you all for being filled with love, positivity and kindness during this wild and euphoric experience.
“We felt your support fully and we really appreciated it.
“Huge love to the Kalush Orchestra for bringing it home to glorious Ukraine!!!
“Couldn’t be happier right now and can’t wait to hug my grandpa!”
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/sam-ryder-feels-fantastic-as-he-arrives-in-uk-after-eurovision-triumph-41652821.html Sam Ryder feeling ‘amazing’ as he arrives in the UK after Eurovision triumph