Noah Thompson is enjoying his American Idol success after winning Season 20 in May. But he is also busy learning the ropes of the music industry, plus the hard work that comes with taking home the top prize.

Fans will recall that Thompson entered the popular televised competition with little to no experience. Unlike his fellow contestants, runner-up HunterGirl and Top 3’s Leah Marlene, the native of Louisa, Ky., hadn’t put in the time songwriting, getting in front of crowds, traveling on the road, or being on stages with a backup band.

Going into Idol, he also had a lot working against him. Not only is Thompson from a small town, fresh out of high school having begun his Idol journey at age 19, but he was — and still is — a busy father of one. On top of that, he would’ve never competed on the show if it weren’t for his good buddy, Arthur, who sent in his audition tape.

All that rolled into one makes Thompson’s triumph seem like a one-in-a-million shot in the dark. So, when asked point blank if he feels guilty that he won, he doesn’t hesitate.

“Definitely, for sure,” Thompson recently told Taste of Country Nights host Evan Paul. “I haven’t been out in Nashville playing shows. I mean, I’ve played a couple of shows back home. I’ve done some little things, but like with Hunter, Leah, all of them…. you know, they’ve been playing shows their whole life doing these things, and I haven't. I didn’t grow up playing shows.”

Thompson says it wasn’t until he earned his Golden Ticket on American Idol that he began honing his craft by playing shows in music venues around his local community.

"I went back home because I needed that experience. Do you know what I’m saying? That’s when we really started playing a lot more shows and doing the things I needed to do to get that experience," he says.

Even though Thompson feels like he hasn’t put in the same amount of years and energy as his peers, there are no hard feelings between him and his fellow castmates — in fact, he and his fellow Idol alums have bonded throughout their run and even championed each other as the show began winding down to a close. He developed an especially strong friendship with HunterGirl after the finale, and she even supplies backing vocals on his debut track, “One Day Tonight.”

But in the end, Thompson says he believes the win could’ve gone to anyone from the Top 10.

“It felt, towards the end, right around, definitely in the Top 24 when we all kind of got together, it felt like we all got so close,” he admits. “We were just like a little family, for real, I don’t think towards that part of it, man, especially around the Top 10, I don’t think anybody was competing anymore. I think it was just that we were all so proud of each other."

"Anybody from the Top 10 could’ve won that show. For some reason, I did. I don’t freaking know why. But, for some reason, I did.”

Sure, Thompson is green compared to some of the other competitors in Season 20, but he is right where he should be.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. This is it. I’ve always wanted to play music. This has been my dream since I was a little kid," he says. "I grew up with a dad that was in a band."

"This is all he ever wanted to do, you know? And, for me, it’s such a special thing because it’s kind of for me and my dad. It’s something we can share and do together. So, now, knowing that I can play music for a living, that’s more than I could ask for. That’s so special to me. I can do that forever now."

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