Spoilers ahead for the Season 15 finale of America's Got Talent on NBC.
Another season of America's Got Talent has come to an end, and Season 15 was unlike any other for more than one reason. Not only did the season end without one of the judges due to injury, but most of the season had to be reimagined due to production restrictions, and now AGT has made show history with its Season 15 champion. The finale leading up to the announcement delivered some twists and turns before the big news. Now, congratulations to none other than spoken word poet Brandon Leake!
Yes, Brandon Leake came out on top of America's Got Talent after becoming the first spoken word poet to compete on the show, and certainly the first to win a golden buzzer, which came courtesy of a spellbound Howie Mandel earlier in Season 15. Leake winning wasn't actually the biggest shock, as he has been a fan-favorite (not to mention Mandel favorite) since his debut, but the minutes leading to the announcement delivered more than one surprise.
The Top 5 was narrowed down to aerialist Alan Silva, singer Roberta Battaglia, singer Cristina Rae, music duo Broken Roots, and of course Brandon Leake. I for one hadn't even expected Broken Roots to make it to the Top 5, so I was already surprised to see them defeat Indian dance duo Bad Salsa. It was what happened right before Terry Crews declared Leake the new winner that I and likely many others didn't see coming: Cristina Rae didn't make it to the final two with Leake.
Cristina Rae came in third, behind Broken Roots and Brandon Leake. The judges were visibly shocked at the announcement, and Heidi Klum in particular was thrown that her golden buzzer winner was eliminated at that point. Sofia Vergara's golden buzzer winner Roberta Battaglia was already out of the running, and I thought she looked even more thrown by Rae's elimination than Battaglia's!
I definitely thought the final two would come down to Cristina Rae and Brandon Leake, and would have been just fine with either winning. As it stands, I couldn't be happier for Leake, even if the final few announcements made his future against Broken Roots feel uncertain for a few minutes there. What a ride!
With his spoken word performances, Brandon Leake packed an emotional punch from the very first time he took the stage and won the very first golden buzzer after America's Got Talent had to start producing episodes without any in-person audience other than the four judges, as Simon Cowell was not yet injured at that point.
There was some question of how his act would stand in front of an audience vs. without throngs of viewers, but he continued to crush and (in my case, at least) leave viewers emotional and in need of tissues every time. He had already revealed how he would handle a Las Vegas stage show as winner of America's Got Talent, and he can now make that a reality thanks to the AGT grand prize. And that $1 million (give or take) is no small prize either!
Take a look at Brandon Leake's final performance that clinched his AGT Season 15 victory:
Congratulations again to Brandon Leake for making AGT history and triumphing in an extremely unconventional season! America's Got Talent will return with Season 16 on NBC, although presumably not for a while. For some upcoming viewing options now that AGT is finished for 2020, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).