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This week's cover: The ultimate Sexy Beast is...

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EW-1118-coverWhen EW.com launched its ultimate Sexy Beast tournament on July 19, we were simply looking to have a little summertime fun: Take 64 of the hottest vampires, werewolves, aliens, mutants, monsters, and machines ever to grace the pop culture landscape; pit them against one another in a good old-fashioned, single-elimination bracket tourney; see who prevailed (while indulging in a little eye-candy perusal in the process).

Little did we know how heated the battle would get. In a 30-day period, and fueled by Facebook and Twitter campaigns for a number of our combatants, EW.com readers racked up more than 1.5 million votes, and whittled the field down to just two players: the Twilight saga’s sensitive heartthrob Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and The Vampire Diaries’ winkingly nefarious Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder).

Along the way there were upsets (Battlestar Galactica’s slinky Number Six ousted in the second round), surprises (Charmed’s Cole Turner/Belthazor going all the way to the round of 16), and heartbreaks (Ms. Pac-man making a humiliatingly early exit).

Still, the final Edward-vs.-Damon showdown trumped ‘em all. Our polls were open for 72 hours, and midway through the final day of voting, the virile vampires were separated by less than 200 votes. With six hours remaining, and our finalists still locked in a statistical dead heat, EW.com’s Sexy Beast special-ops team decided to hide our poll results, and began to plan a special issue of Entertainment Weekly commemorating a tournament that had becoming nothing short of an Internet sensation. When the blood, sweat, and broken fangs were wiped away, who was the winner? Let this be the official reveal: Damon Salvatore eked out a mild upset victory over Edward Cullen by a margin of 138,630 to 134,728, a difference of just 3,902 votes. (Click here for one last look at how our entire, 64-beast bracket played out.)

Maybe it was a last-minute Tweet from Somerhalder himself –“That Pattinson guy will end up kicking my butt, however thanks for taking the time, that’s really cool : )” –that turned the tide in favor of his character. Or maybe it was a get-out-the-vote campaign by Somerhalder’s costar Matt Davis (Alaric). “I think he text-messaged Justin Bieber and said, ‘Hey, would you please vote for my friend?’ I’m not even kidding,” Somerhalder tells EW. But whether you happened to be Team Damon or Team Edward – or even Team Wolverine, Team Alcide, Team Neytiri, or Team Beast (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, naturally) – we thank you for your participation and enthusiasm.

For more on EW.com’s Sexy Beast tournament – including an interview with winner Ian Somerhalder—pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Aug. 27. To purchase a copy of the Sexy Beasts issue of EW, visit ew.com/backissue.

Originally posted August 26 2010 — 12:01 AM EDT

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