Fans may have noticed a jokey back-and-forth between Thomas Rhett and his fellow nominee Dierks Bentley as Rhett accepted his Male Artist of the Year trophy at the ACM Awards on Sunday night (April 18).

Bentley was sitting in the Grand Ole Opry House audience when the ACM Male Artist of the Year trophy was awarded, with fellow nominees Eric Church and Luke Combs nearby. (The fifth nominee, Chris Stapleton, was over at the Bluebird Cafe, where he gave his ACM Awards performance.)

Rhett's acceptance speech started with some light-hearted ribbing in his fellow nominees' directions, particularly Bentley, whom Rhett claimed had been "hollering his shenanigans." But as for what those "shenanigans" might be? Backstage at the show's virtual press room, Rhett declined to get specific.

"I won't say, for Dierks' sake," the singer joked. "Every time each nominee['s name] would come across the screen, he'd say something hilarious, especially when it got to my name. I just couldn't stop laughing."

The fun carried into Rhett's acceptance speech, he says.

"I was kind of in shock getting up there, and every time I looked at Dierks' face, I just couldn't stop laughing," he admits. "Dierks is always one of my favorite friends, and getting to sit there with Luke and Eric and Dierks, those are the kinds of memories you remember forever.

"Getting to win this award, man — this is the toughest category, minus Entertainer [of the Year], you know?" Rhett adds. "Getting to sit there with friends of mine, just giving each other crap, and getting to have a good time together, it was very special."

The 2021 ACM Awards are available for streaming via Paramount+. Sign up for Paramount+ here.

2021 ACM Red Carpet Pictures

The best dressed on the 2021 ACM Awards red carpet brought color — lots of color — for an awards show that promises to be a celebration. Photos show stars like Carly Pearce, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young, Kane Brown and more wearing the hottest and often most expensive designer outfits, or suits they designed themselves, in the case of Jimmie Allen.

Check out a full gallery of country music's hottest stars on the ACM Awards red carpet. Who do you think is best dressed and worst dressed?

The 2021 ACM Awards took place at the Bluebird Cafe, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Sunday (April 18).

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