Competition shows has been a staple of TV for decades now, and one of the most popular is America’s Got Talent, showing off some of the best of what the country has to offer. Its sixteenth season is currently underway, with plenty of crazy auditions, so let's take a look back at what the former winners of America’s Got Talent have been up to since their big break.
Bianca Ryan - Season 1 (2006)
As the first winner – and one of the youngest in the series ever – Bianca Ryan set the tone for the type of winner who could bring it all home. Since her win, Ryan has released a couple of albums, two of which have been Christmas albums, along with singles and EP’s as well, like “Man Down” and “Remember.”
Bianca Ryan has also dabbled in singing on Broadway, appearing in a production of “Home For the Holidays,” and has had a couple of film appearances. As of late, she continues to sing and has come back to AGT several times.
Terry Fator - Season 2 (2007)
One of three ventriloquists to win America’s Got Talent, Terry Fator created funny comedy sketches and musical numbers to remember. After his win, Fator went on to headline a show at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, one of the prizes he received, as well as appear on several talk shows.
He’s returned to AGT several times, one of his most recent appearances being alongside Darci Lynne, and another ventriloquist who'll be mentioned later. Fator continues to perform in Vegas (and in shows across the country), in his show “Terry Fator: Who’s the Dummy Now?” at the New York New York Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
Neal E. Boyd - Season 3 (2008)
Another singer won Season 3 of America’s Got Talent but had a completely different genre – classical. Neal E. Boyd enchanted the world with his operatic voice, and went on to win the third season and then headline a show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, while also headlining some other Vegas residencies, as well.
While he did do some smaller tours across the country, he was also very committed to politics, and according to STL Today, ran to be in the House of Representatives in Missouri, his home state. Sadly, Neal E. Boyd passed away in 2018 from a combination of heart failure, kidney problems, and liver issues.
Kevin Skinner - Season 4 (2009)
Kevin Skinner was a country singer who won AGT, and went on to headline a show in Vegas, as well as release an album in 2010, and 2011. However, he hasn’t done much since.
He made headlines in 2014 when he went missing from his home state, Kentucky, according to Radar Online, but was found. Ever since then, he’s remained out of the spotlight.
Michael Grimm - Season 5 (2010)
The next winner of AGT was singer/songwriter Michael Grimm, who then headlined the America’s Got Talent Tour, featuring several acts from his season. He actually proposed to his girlfriend right on Ellen after winning the competition. Talk about a sweet love story.
In 2011, Grimm released an album and opened for music legend Stevie Nicks. In 2012 and 2015, he released both “Gumbo” and “Grimm,” respectively, two of his latest albums. Since then, he’s taken a step back from releasing full-length albums and focused on just singing, however, he did have a recent appearance on America’s Got Talent: Champions in 2020, so who knows what we might see from him soon.
Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. - Season 6 (2011)
The only jazz musician/singer to win the show, Landau Eugene Murphy, has been busy since his win on American’s Got Talent in Season 6. He signed to Sony Records and Columbia Records not long after his win and released the album “That’s Life” in 2011. He also headlined a show at the Colosseum Theater at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Murphy released another album in 2016 titled “Landau,” and a Christmas album in 2013 as well, making some sweet jazz holiday tunes.
Now, he continues to do live shows and tour across the country.
Olate Dogs - Season 7 (2012)
I’ve always loved dogs with my whole heart, so that’s why Olate Dogs is one of my favorites winners throughout all of America’s Got Talent. The act, featuring a father and a son, won the show and went on to headline the America’s Got Talent Live Show in Las Vegas at the Palazzo Theater.
Besides going across the country to show off their act, with new dogs and tricks, they’ve had plenty of guest appearances on late-night talk shows, as well. They’ve also returned to AGT to show off how far they've come.
Kenichi Ebina - Season 8 (2013)
In Season 8, Kenichi Ebina made America’s Got Talent history by becoming the first foreign winner on the show, and for good reason. His style, labeled “dance-ish,” combined a wonderful flurry of storytelling, pure dance talent, and special effects, with many different styles included.
Like some of the others on this list, he also participated in America’s Got Talent: Champions and returned as a guest, but otherwise, he’s continued to do shows worldwide, often promoting them through his social media.
Mat Franco - Season 9 (2014)
The first magician to win the show, Mat Franco set the standard for magic on America’s Got Talent in Season 9. After his win, he went on to headline a show in Las Vegas, with his current show happening at the LINQ. The magician has done so well there that the LINQ has renamed their theater the “Mat Franco Theater.”
Besides his success in Vegas, Franco also had his own TV special on NBC, titled “Mat Franco’s Got Magic.” If you want to see some really amazing tricks that will have you blinking twice, be sure to watch any of his awesome YouTube videos.
Paul Zerdin - Season 10 (2015)
The second ventriloquist to win, Paul Zerdin had some success after America’s Got Talent in Season 10. He did go on to headline a show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, but it ended up closing after four months due to poor audience attendance.
Zerdin has returned to both America’s Got Talent: Champions and the British version, Britain’s Got Talent: Champions but failed to make it through to the end. He still does shows, usually over in England, and uploads videos to his YouTube channel.
Grace VanderWaal - Season 11 (2016)
I feel like if you haven’t heard of Grace VanderWaal at least once in your life so far, you’ve lived under a rock. The Season 11 America’s Got Talent winner became widely recognized for her unique voice and songwriting skills at such a young age. After her win, VanderWaal went on to do a plethora of projects, such as releasing her own album, titled “Just the Beginning,” and several EP’s.
Grace VanderWaal also toured all over the world with acts such as Imagine Dragons and Florence And The Machine, before headlining her own tour, titled “Ur So Beautiful.” Besides her amazing musical talents, Grace VanderWaal has also stepped into acting recently, starring in the musical drama, Stargirl, on Disney+. She’s the youngest ever to be inducted into Forbes “30 Under 30 Music” list, so you know she means business and should be around for some time.
Darci Lynne - Season 12 (2017)
Darci Lynne is the last ventriloquist who's won America’s Got Talent – so far. She made headlines for her amazing ability to use puppets without moving her mouth at all, and some fantastic musical talents. After her Season 12 win, Lynne headlined at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas as part of her prize, and performed at Ceasar’s Palace. Lynne also had a tour, called “Darci Lynne and Friends,” as well as another tour a couple of years later, called “Darci Lynne and Friends: Fresh Out of the Box.”
Lynne had her own holiday special on NBC, called “Darci Lynne: My Hometown Christmas,” with guest stars like Kristen Chenowith alongside her, and is currently a panelist on the Nickelodeon game show, Unfiltered.
Shin Lim - Season 13 (2018)
Shin Lim is my absolute favorite winner of America’s Got Talent. The Season 13 winner showed off his “slight-of-hand” magic in all of his performances and continues to do that to this day. While he did his own tour across the country, as well as tour alongside The Illusionists, Shin Lim has continued to headline at The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas for new faces to see.
Not only did Shin Lim win Season 13 of America’s Got Talent, but he also won the first season of America’s Got Talent: Champions, so it’s clear that this talented man is probably here to stay.
Kodi Lee - Season 14 (2019)
Lee made America’s Got Talent history in 2019 when he won Season 14, as a legally blind and autistic musician who had the voice of an angel and could expertly play piano. Kodi Lee signed on to Simon Cowell’s music label, Suco, and Columbia Records, and began writing songs, while also headlining at Paris Las Vegas.
While Kodi Lee did well with his performances in Vegas, when the world shut down during the pandemic, he wasn’t able to continue. However, Kodi Lee still sings and performs – virtually right now on his YouTube, but hopes to perform live in the future. His brother posted an update to his YouTube channel, saying that Lee is working on an album, so we might get to hear some new songs soon!
Brandon Leake - Season 15 (2020)
America’s Got Talent persevered in 2020 and gave us a great season, ending with Brandon Leake winning, the first spoken word poet to ever win the show. Since his triumph, he’s toured across the country to promote his poetry book, “Deficiencies: A Tale from My Dark Side,” as well as continue to run his organization, Called to Move, a way to help young people through poetry.
He’s since signed on to the United Talent Agency, according to Deadline. His win is very fresh and the world is continuing to open up, so who knows what he will do next. But, we all know it’ll be just as great as some of his poetry has been so far.
All these updates get me hyped for the 2021 Summer TV shows – of which America's Got Talent is a part.