"I feel like maybe I'm just being humble and I don't know that I should take it home yet because I know Brad Paisley's doing stadiums now," Lambert said. "I'm not there yet. But it is up to the fans, so if I did win that'd be awesome. I know I have tons of work under my belt now, but I still have more to go."
Fan voting made this year's entertainer award especially hard to predict. Neither Carrie Underwood nor Kenny Chesney - winners of the last six entertainer awards - were nominated this year. And only two-time winner Toby Keith had taken home the ACM's top award. Paisley, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban had won the competing Country Music Association artist of the year awards, but had yet to breakthrough in Sin City. Jason Aldean, like Lambert a rising star, also was a first-time nominee.
Aldean has been one of country's hottest young stars for a few years; he was also up for male vocalist of the year.
"You get nominated for something like that, it makes you feel like, 'Wow, people are noticing what's going on, man.' It's a cool feeling," Aldean said. "Going from really not having any nominations [last year] to going to this year where we're nominated for the two best awards a male act can get, it's definitely a new feeling for me."
While four-time entertainer-of-the-year-winner Chesney wasn't nominated in that category after taking a year off from touring, he had a large presence at the awards with five nominations. He's vying for his first album-of-the-year award for "Hemingway's Whiskey" and he was also up for male vocalist. Lady Antebellum, which took five Grammy awards earlier this year, was up for three ACMs.
Zac Brown of the Zac Brown band was actually the night's leading nominee, though his nine nominations were split between his band and his work as a producer and a composer, so he didn't have as many individual nominations as Lambert.
He said he wouldn't really be focused on the awards, though. He was to perform with James Taylor.
"Of all the milestone people I've gotten to work with who've been an influence on my life musically, he's definitely the biggest one," Brown said.