"America's Got Talent" is marking two major milestones. In addition to celebrating its 15th anniversary this summer — it premiered on NBC back on June 26, 2006 — the hit reality competition series, which currently features a judging panel made up of Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara and Simon Cowell, is returning for its 16th season on June 1! In honor of this fresh start, Wonderwall.com is checking up on all the show's past winners to find out what's going on with them today. Keep reading for more…
Young Bianca Ryan was the very first winner of "America's Got Talent" in 2006. The singer was just 11 when she took home the $1 million prize.
After her epic win on season 1 of "America's Got Talent," 11-year-old Bianca Ryan signed a record deal with Syco Music and released her self-titled debut studio album, which reached No. 57 on the Billboard 200. For the next few years, Bianca continued to release songs and perform around the world. She even made an appearance in the 2014 musical "We Are Kings." After admitting in 2012 that her earlier musical projects didn't feel authentically hers, she launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 to raise money for a music video for her song "Alice." In 2017, a more grown-up Bianca emerged with several new singles including "What I Gotta Do" and "Man Down." Along with music, one of her newest passions is vlogging via her YouTube channel, where she shares new music, beauty favorites and old VHS tapes of her childhood performances. In 2019, she released her third EP, "The Reintroduction, Pt. 1."
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Comedian and ventriloquist Terry Fator was the winner of season 2 of "America's Got Talent" in 2007.
"America's Got Talent" season 2 winner Terry Fator is widely considered the most successful "AGT" victor of all. Just one year after winning the reality competition series with his comedic ventriloquism and impersonations, Terry was offered the deal of a lifetime — a $100 million, five-year contract from the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Since then, his deal has been renegotiated several times over and Terry continues to headline at the Mirage. In 2017, Terry was named the third highest paid comedian by Forbes. That same year, he launched the Terry Fator Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides funding to military charities and the Arthritis Foundation. Terry's been married to Angie Fiore since 2015.
Pop and opera singing sensation Neal E. Boyd (center) was the season 3 winner of "America's Got Talent" in 2008.
"America's Got Talent" season 3 winner Neal E. Boyd had a rough road following his 2008 victory. After releasing his debut studio album, "My American Dream," in 2009 and spending several years performing live, Neal switched gears and ran as a Republican candidate for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives in 2012, but lost the election to his Democrat opponent. After performing at the Republican National Convention that year (seen here), Neal largely stayed out of the spotlight and little was heard from him until 2017 when he suffered a near-fatal car accident after blacking out while driving with his mother in the car. Both he and his mom survived the accident, although Neal later said it took him months to heal and get strong enough to walk on stage once more. On June 10, 2018, Neal died at 42 at his mother's Missouri home. The coroner told the media that the opera singer was suffering from a number of medical issues at the time of his death including heart and kidney failure and liver problems.
The winner of season 4 of "America's Got Talent" in 2009 was country music singer Kevin Skinner.
Sadly, not long after Kevin Skinner won season 4 of "America's Got Talent" in 2009 (seen here), he quickly retreated from the limelight. After releasing his debut studio album, "Long Ride," in 2010, the country music hopeful reportedly separated from his wife, which some family members believe contributed to his depression and decision to step away from his blooming music career. In 2014, Kevin was reported missing by his family. Thankfully, he was later found and taken in for medical assessment. There's been no update on Kevin since.
Singer and songwriter Michael Grimm (second from right) was the season 5 winner of "America's Got Talent" in 2010.
Before Michael Grimm even won "America's Got Talent" in 2010, he'd released three studio albums. In 2011, he released his self-titled fourth album with Epic Records, which made it to No. 13 on the Billboard 200. That same year, he also used his lump-sum payout from "AGT" to buy his grandparents a new home (theirs was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005). Michael's released two more albums since, "Gumbo" in 2012 and "Grimm" in 2015. In 2017, it was announced that Michael would headline a residency at Las Vegas's Red Rock Hotel and Casino. In 2011, he married Lucie Zolcerova after proposing to her on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in 2010.
Singer Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (second from left) took home the $1 million prize after winning season 6 of "America's Got Talent" in 2011.
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.'s "America's Got Talent" win in 2011 led him to sign with Columbia Records that same year. Just a few months later, Landau released his debut studio album, "That's Life," which landed at No. 34 on the Billboard 200. Along with performing in live shows across the country, Landau self-released a holiday album in 2013 and the single "Come Home to West Virginia" in 2016. Later that year, he dropped his third studio album (also self-released), "Landau." In 2013, he released the memoir "America's Got Talent Winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.: From Washing Cars to Hollywood Star." In 2018, Landau made his acting debut in the drama "Choices." In 2021, he appeared on several series including "We Children from Bahnhof Zoo," "Echos," "The Old Fox" and "Reiterhof Wildenstein."
Father-and-son team Richard Olate and Nicholas Olate of the dog-trick duo Olate Dogs were declared the winners of season 7 of "America's Got Talent" in 2012.
After Nicholas Olate and his dad, Richard Olate, took home the top prize on "America's Got Talent" in 2011, the duo (under the name Olate Dogs) starred in the "America's Got Talent Live in Las Vegas" show at The Palazzo for two years before hitting the road with their act. They've also performed during NBA halftime shows and as featured acts with the now-defunct Ringling Bros. Circus. In 2013, Nicholas released his debut musical album, "Think Big." The family took their act to the small screen in 2014 when they appeared on the FOX TV special "Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular." Today, they continue to perform with their pack of dogs around the country.
Japanese dancer and performing artist Kenichi Ebina took home the grand prize on season 8 of "America's Got Talent" in 2013.
Kenichi Ebina's amazing dance moves helped him win season 8 of "America's Got Talent," but did you know that six years before his victory, he performed another riveting dance for a Ted Talks audience? The talented dancer has continued his one-man show, traveling around the world to perform on TV spots and during L.A. Dodgers games. He also developed an iPhone app called Dance-ish Me that teaches users his incredible moves. In 2019, Kenichi competed on "America's Got Talent: The Champions," though he didn't win.
Mat Franco won season 9 of "America's Got Talent" in 2014 after wowing the judges with his magic tricks.
As the only magician to ever win "America's Got Talent," it made perfect sense that Mat Franco would get his own two-hour NBC special, "Mat Franco's Got Magic," the following year. Not long after, Mat landed his own show at the LINQ Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, "Mat Franco – Magic Reinvented Nightly." In 2017, the theater he performed in was renamed the Mat Franco Theater in his honor, ensuring he'll be hanging around, sharing his jaw-dropping magic tricks with fans, for many years to come. In April 2021, Mat resumed his show at The Linq Hotel and Casino following a temporary closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Comedic ventriloquist Paul Zerdin won season 10 of "America's Got Talent" in 2015.
British puppeteer Paul Zerdin took off with a bang after winning season 10 of "America's Got Talent." The following year, Paul was asked to headline his own Las Vegas show, "Mouthing Off," at Planet Hollywood. Just a few months later, however, the show was canceled due to low ticket sales. In 2017, he embarked on his "All Mouth" U.K. tour and in 2018, Paul continued his ventriloquist acts aboard Disney Cruises and other venues. In December 2018, Paul joined the cast of "Snow White" in London's West End. In 2019, he portrayed Silly Billy in a production of "Goldilocks & the Three Bears."
Grace VanderWaal was just 12 when she won season 11 of "America's Got Talent" in 2016 with her singing and ukulele skills.
In the two years after Grace VanderWaal won "America's Got Talent," she accomplished some pretty impressive feats. At 12, she signed a deal with Columbia Records and in December 2016, she released her first EP with the label, "Perfectly Imperfect," which hit No. 9 on the Billboard 200. She followed that success a year later with her first studio album, "Just the Beginning," which hit No. 22 and featured singles like "Moonlight" and "A Better Life." In 2018, along with releasing her single "Clearly," a 14-year-old Grace began working as a model for the elite IMG agency and was chosen as one of the opening acts on Imagine Dragons' summer tour. In 2020, Grace headlined the Disney+ movie "Stargirl."
Singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer was the season 12 winner of "America's Got Talent" in 2017.
Although it's only been a minute since Darci Lynne Farmer won season 12 of "America's Got Talent" in 2017, she's already a working (young) woman. The 12-year-old singing ventriloquist took her act on the road with the "Darci Lynne & Friends Live Tour," which only did shows on the weekend so she could keep up with her seventh grade classes. In 2020, she appeared on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" and performed the track "Something's Got a Hold on Me." In 2021, she appeared on the television series "Side Hustle."
Shin Lim, a magician known for his card manipulation, won season 13 of "America's Got Talent."
Since winning "America's Got Talent," Canadian American magician Shin Lim has continued to find success. In addition to headlining a Las Vegas residency at the Mirage Casino Hotel in 2019, Shin embarked on a U.S. tour in 2020. That same year, he made a guest appearance on season 2 of "America's Got Talent: The Champions."
Singer Kodi Lee, the blind and autistic contestant who wowed judges and audiences with his incredible voice, won season 14 of "America's Got Talent."
Kodi Lee, who captured viewers' and judges' hearts with his poignant performances, is set to perform during the Pala Casino Spa and Resort's summer concert series in California in 2021. In April 2021, Kodi virtually performed the national anthem during a New York Knicks game.
Spoken word poet Brandon Leake was crowned the winner of season 15 of "America's Got Talent" in 2020. He was the first poet to ever appear on and win the competition.
In October 2020, Brandon Leake signed with United Talent Agency. He also joined the Team Harmony Foundation's web series "Hate: What Are You Going to Do?" as a contributor and content producer. He's continued to perform spoken word poetry across the United States.