“We are all heroes”, says Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow after Eurovision Song Contest win

Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow speaks to the media after winning the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna, beating Russia and Italy in the world’s biggest international music show.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA (MAY 23-24, 2015) (REUTERS) – “We are all heroes,” said Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow after winning the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on Sunday (May 24), beating Russia and Italy in the world’s biggest international music show.

The 28-year-old singer and TV presenter, who had been a bookmakers’ favourite, performed the winning electro-pop ballad “Heroes,” dancing in front of a black screen with animated gnomes.

Zelmerlow said he was surprised by the win.

“It was absolutely amazing, I didn’t hear it when they first said it so Christa (fellow member of Sweden’s Eurosong team) had to tell me like 10 seconds after that they just told, they just said that you won and I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I really thought that either Russia or Italy was going to win,” Zelmerlow told the news conference in the Austrian capital after winning the contest.

Sweden has won the 60-year-old competition six times, more than any other nation apart from Ireland. Sweden won most recently in 2012 with “Euphoria” by Loreen and now gets to host the contest again next year.

This year’s theme was Building Bridges, which many artists interpreted as an appeal for tolerance in performances that included a gay kiss scene by Lithuania.

“I think that we all are heroes no matter who we are or who we love or what we believe in,” said Zelmerlow. “We should stand up for the weaker in the society and make them stronger, and I hope that my song and my message could make an impact on people.”

Last year Zelmerlow stirred up controversy in Sweden when he claimed that homosexuality was unnatural, a remark he later apologised for, local media reported.

On Sunday he thanked the gay community for its support.

“Given all that’s been the last year… from the second I came down here I felt welcomed, since this has been such a discussion,” he said.

“But I felt that all that was gone when I came down and felt like people had actually accepted my apologies and believed in what I said which was great, and I thank the gay community for that,” he added.

Zelmerlow beat Russia’s Polina Gagarina, whose song “A Million Voices” reaped top scores from most former Soviet satellite states that earned angry jeers from the crowd in Austria.

“Please remember that our motto is building bridges and that music should stand over politics tonight,” presenter Alice Tumler told the audience.

The contest was watched last year by more than 195 million people in 45 countries, or more viewers than the Super Bowl. This year the show was also transmitted live in China.