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

Mary 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."