Jelly Roll Tributes The Underdogs After CMT Music Awards Win: ‘They Let A Loser Win Tonight!’ 

He also thanked his wife, Bunnie XO, his label and the fans.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 2, 2023


8:39 pm

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Jelly Roll accepts the award for Male Breakthrough Video of the Year onstage during the 2023 CMT Music Awards; Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for CMT

Jelly Roll is a two-time winner at the 2023 CMT Music Awards! 

The rising country star took home the award for Breakthrough Male Video of the Year for “Son Of A Sinner” during the broadcast on CBS. 

After embracing his wife, Bunnie XO, the genre-bending artist took to the stage to accept the belt buckle trophy. 

Jelly Roll, Bunnie XO Chad Wadsworth/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Jelly Roll, Bunnie XO Chad Wadsworth/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“They let a loser win tonight, baby,” he shouted. “They let a loser win tonight.” 

He went on to thank those who made this possible for him.

“I wanna thank my record label Stoney Creek, I wanna thank my management, I wanna thank my beautiful wife, miss Bunnie DeFord. This is more than an award. First of all, this is for the fans, baby, the only fan-voted awards show in America. This is for the underdogs, baby, this is for the losers and the have-nots. God takes the impossible and makes it look small. Let’s go, baby!”

The category also included Bailey Zimmerman (“Fall In Love”), Corey Kent (“Wild As Her”), Drake Milligan (“Sounds Like Something I’d Do”), Jackson Dean (“Don’t Come Lookin’”), and Nate Smith (“Whiskey On You”).

Ahead of the show, Jelly Roll was surprised with the award for Digital-First Performance of the Year for “Son of A Sinner” from CMT All Access while on the red carpet. 

Jelly Roll and Bunnie Xo at the 2023 CMT Awards Photo: Getty Images for CMT Emma McIntyre
Jelly Roll and Bunnie Xo at the 2023 CMT Awards Photo: Getty Images for CMT Emma McIntyre

“What is this? I just won an award? Let’s go! What a way to start the night, baby! Let’s go. This motherf******’s heavy. Y’all just did that for real? I thought I was doing an interview,” he said. “What a way to start, baby. Cody Allen just told me that I won the award for digital-first performance tonight, baby. What a way to start the night. They told me I was coming to walk the carpet.” 

Co-hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, the 2023 CMT Music Awards featured performances from Blake Shelton, Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Cody Johnson, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Lainey Wilson, and Tyler Hubbard. 

Additionally, the show included one-of-a-kind collaborations, including a 10th anniversary of CMT Next Women of Country celebration featuring Alanis Morissette with Lainey Wilson, Ingrid Andress, Madeline Edwards, and Morgan Wade. Gwen Stefani and Carly Pearce joined forces for a special collaboration, while Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown teamed up for the television premiere of their chart-topping duet, “Thank God.” 

The Black Crowes and Darius Rucker delivered a first-time collaboration of “She Talks To Angels,” and Wynonna Judd and Ashley McBryde will also take the stage together. 

Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by John Shearer, Getty for CMT
Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini; Photo by John Shearer, Getty for CMT

The show also included a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan from Gary Clark, Jr. and a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute from Billy Gibbons, Chuck Leavell, Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash & Warren Haynes and LeAnn Rimes & Wynonna Judd as honorary “Honkettes.”

Rising stars Avery Anna, Chapel Hart, Jackson Dean, Lily Rose, Nate Smith, and Megan Moroney made their CMT Music Awards performance debut on the Ram Trucks Side Stage.  

Carly Pearce, Carrie Underwood, Charles Esten, Dixie D’Amelio, Dustin Lynch, HARDY, Ian Bohen + Jen Landon (Yellowstone), Jon Pardi, LeAnn Rimes, Madison Bailey (Outer Banks), Max Thieriot (Fire Country), Megan Thee Stallion, Noah Schnapp (Stranger Things), Parker McCollum, Peter Frampton, Shania Twain, Steve Howey (True Lies) and Travis Kelce appeared as presenters. 

The coveted awards show aired live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas on Sunday, April 2 at 8/7c on CBS. It was also available to stream live and on-demand via Paramount+

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.