Toby Keith's Tear-Jerking Speech Ain't Worth Missing at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards

There wasn't a dry eye in the room after Toby Keith accepted the Country Icon Award at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards on Sept. 28.

By Alyssa Morin Sep 29, 2023 1:10 AMTags

Toby Keith is raising his red solo cup!

The legendary country singer took home the prestigious Country Icon Award at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards on Sept. 28. (See every winner here.) 

When accepting the trophy from fellow Oklahoman Blake Shelton at the famous Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, the 62-year-old reflected on his decades-long career and the impact he's made on multiple generations.

But before going into detail about his legacy, he began his acceptance speech with a lighthearted joke.

"I bet you never thought y'all'd see me in skinny jeans," Toby, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2022, shared. "I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight, he's been riding shot gun with me for a little while now." 

The "As Good as I Once Was" singer also praised those closest to him for standing by his side through thick and thin.

"I want to thank my beautiful family that's here," he continued. "A lot of people go in and make a career like this of 30 years."

The Greatest Country Music Couples of All Time

"Most of all," he added, "I want to thank the fans for still allowing us to do what we do. Have a wonderful evening, thank you!"

Mickey Bernal/NBC via Getty Images

Following his acceptance speech, Toby took center stage and gave an emotional performance of "Don't Let the Old Man in." The superstar's set was so moving that his wife, Tricia Lucus, wiped tears from her face throughout.

While on the red carpet, Toby opened up about the longevity of his career and what it means to be recognized for his music.

"It's nice to recognize my 30-year career," he told E! News on the red carpet (watch more interviews from the event on E! News at 11 p.m.). "It's pretty mind-boggling."

He added, "Those years of pounding those songs out and remembering where you were when each one was conceived, it's amazing."

Mickey Bernal/NBC via Getty Images

Toby's People's Choice Country Award show appearance comes just two months after he made a triumphant return to the stage.

Back in July, the "Red Solo Cup" artist performed two shows at Hollywood Corners—the bar and music venue he owns in Norman, Okla.

"I've got more wind," he told The Oklahoman at the time. "And I'm thinking about bringing the band in and setting up, playing two or three days somewhere just to see if I can get through two hours. I'm ready." 

As he put it, "That's living."

Allen Clark/NBC via Getty Images

Toby isn't the only star to shine bright at the star-studded ceremony.

Keep scrolling to see all of the attendees at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards.

Kristin Cavallari

Kane Brown

In Allen Edmond shoes.

Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott & Dave Haywood of Lady A

Blake Shelton & Wynonna Judd

Eric Decker & Jessie James Decker

Jessie in Simkhai.

Dan + Shay

Kelsea Ballerini

In Coach.

Nikki Garcia

In Moschino.

The Brothers Osborne

HARDY & Lainey Wilson

Carly Pearce

Chris Young

Mickey Guyton

Toby Keith & Tricia Lucus

Carly Waddell

Hannah Brown

In Pamella Roland dress and Alexandre Birman shoes.

Jason Tartick

In Allen Edmond shoes.

Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman & Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town

Gabby Barrett

Scotty McCreery & Gabi Dugal McCreery

Wynonna Judd

Tanya Trotter & Michael Trotter Jr. of The War and Treaty

Adam Doleac

Lauren Alaina

Randy Travis & Mary Davis

Priscilla Block

Hunter Hayes

Dustin Lynch

Leanne Morgan

Drew Knotts & Tayler Holder

View More Photos From 2023 People's Choice Country Awards: Red Carpet Fashion
Check out E! News' People's Choice Country Awards page for a full recap of every show-stopping moment and photos from the inaugural ceremony.