Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest early on Sunday as the sentimental favorites handily topped the charts after securing a record number of public votes, in a victory that comes amidst Ukraine’s ongoing battles against the invading Russian forces inside its territory.
Kalush Orchestra’s song, “Stefania” secured 192 points from the multinational jury which initially put them in fourth place behind the U.K., Sweden and Spain who scored 283, 258 and 231 respectively.
But as expected by bookmakers the public vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the Ukrainian singers which garnered them a record 439 points and won the competition with 631 points in total.
In front of Eurovision’s massive global audience the band’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, made an impassioned plea to help the fighters who are trapped in the Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant.
Since its 2003 debut, Ukraine has won Eurovision three times—2004, 2016 and 2022—and is now entitled to host the 2023 competition.
Kalush Orchestra’s victory was hailed by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky who said on Instagram “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!”
Zelensky added that Ukraine will do everything possible to host next year’s event in a rebuilt “Ukrainian Mariupol,” the destroyed port city which is now under Russian control.