Alessandro Mahmoud, who performs with the stage name Mahmood, triumphed at the Sanremo music festival late Saturday with his rendition of “Soldi” (“Money”).
The 26-year-old’s winning song has a rhythmic beat often heard in North African music.
TV viewers, an expert panel and journalists vote for the winner of the five-day annual festival. The public input counts for 50 percent of contestants’ scores.
Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, tweeted that he’d have chosen Ultimo, the songfest’s presumed favorite.
The Milan-born Mahmoud has an Italian mother and an Egyptian father. He said early Sunday: “I’m an Italian guy, 100 percent.”
He will represent Italy at this year’s Eurovision song contest.