Mary J. Blige, T.I. Big Winners At 2006 Billboard Awards

ImageMary J. Blige and rapper T.I. were the big winners last night (Dec. 4) at the 2006 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Blige took home a total of nine awards for her album The Breakthrough, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts in December of 2005 and has since been certified double platinum (2 million sales).

Blige won Female Artist of the Year, Best R&B Hip-Hop Album, Artist of the Year, Hip-Hop Single of the Year and others awards.

T.I. was also repeatedly honored for his hit album King. The rapper took home a total of five Billboard Awards including Male R&B Hip-Hop Artist of the Year and Rap Album of the Year.

"I want to thank everybody," T.I. said after accepting his award. "[I'd like to thank] the fans who supported me from day one. I also got a phenomenal supporting cast."

Other winners during the evening included American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, Rihanna, Chris Brown, The Fray, Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland and Nickelback.

The 2006 Billboard Music Awards took place at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena. The evening featured performances by Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Rick Ross, Pharrell, Fergie featuring, Gwen Stefani and others.

Stevie Wonder made a special guest appearance during the evening, to present the Billboard Century Award to legendary singer Tony Bennett.

Janet Jackson opened the show with a medley performance of her 1980 hit "Pleasure Principle," which was mixed with "So Excited," from her most recent album 20 Y.O.

The evening took place without any major incidents, despite the fact that Britney Spears and Paris Hilton backed out of hosting the event.

Hilton and Spears had been tapped to co-host the annual awards show, but Spears backed out on Friday (Dec. 1), leaving the hosting duties to Hilton.

Yesterday, (Dec. 4), Hilton also backed out of hosting the 2006 Billboard Awards, leaving the prestigious music industry event without a host for the entire evening.

"It is my understanding that some satirical references ridiculed some of her peers," the heiress' publicist, Elliot Mintz, told the Associated Press. "Paris did not want to say anything that could appear hurtful or embarrassing about people she knows."

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