As we do after every single season of America’s Got Talent, we’re back today to revisit our winner rankings!
What we have here is a fairly fluid list of all of the winners of the past thirteen iterations of the show — we don’t think these are set in stone, since they are based in part on contributions to the entertainment industry after the show in addition to talent level, memorability, and also their impact on the reality TV genre. There are a few changes that we’ve made to the list this year, beyond of course just adding Shin Lim. It’s a challenge to know where to add Shin given that his career is still to be determined, but we’re fairly confident in him.
America’s Got Talent Video – Check out our take on the winner rankings in video form below — meanwhile, be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more and take a look at our Americas Got Talent playlist.
13. Neal E. Boyd (season 3) – He is the only opera singer to have won the show, but we would say since then he is the easiest winner to forget. We say this especially with regret given that he is the only winner no longer with us. Rest in peace, Neal.
12. Michael Grimm (season 5) – This is one change we’re making this year — swapping Michael and Kevin Skinner around. We think they are comparable talents, but at least with Kevin there is more of a memorable audition. The most memorable person from Michael’s season is probably his runner-up in Jackie Evancho.
11. Kevin Skinner (season 4) – If we’re just talking here in terms of likability, he’s much higher on the list. With his “chicken catcher” background and thick accent, he’s probably one of the more endearing contestants ever. His Garth Brooks cover from the auditions is one of the most iconic auditions from all of the early seasons, but unfortunately all subsequent performances failed to really live up to it.
10. Olate Dogs (season 7) – The first animal act to win the show, and a really fun one to watch. We’re still not sure how much it sustains beyond around ten or fifteen minutes at most, but as a dog lover this group has a soft spot in our heart.
9. Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (season 6) – There’s a period from season 3 to season 6 where all the winners were adult male singers. Of the group, Landau is the most memorable and very successful outside of the show. There aren’t many crooners in this particular century and we appreciate him because of that. Plus, he was excellent just about every time we heard him.
8. Bianca Ryan (season 1) – For a long time we had her ranked higher, mostly because of her status in reality TV history as the first-ever winner — also, for a while she was memorable as the only woman to win the show. Yet, at this point her big audition is really the only thing about her run that stands out — though she is still recording original music and deserves credit for that.
7. Kenichi Ebina (season 8) – On a personal level, one of our favorite winners ever just because what he did was so unique. He did something that we still haven’t seen from any other act on this show. He hasn’t been featured too much on American TV in the years since, but we think he is super-familiar for many diehard fans.
6. Darci Lynne (season 12) – She is still really young and her future is to be determined, but since her win she has done a lot of touring; down the line, she could be able to lock in a larger show if she keeps working hard towards it.
5. Paul Zerdin (season 10) – What benefits Paul heavily is that his act has a good bit of staying power to it — ventriloquists are always going to be popular, even if they’re not always mainstream, and he can do comedy just about anywhere. He has faded a bit the past year or so, though, so he moves down slightly on our list this year.
4. Shin Lim (season 13) – As of right now, we feel confident that Shin can be a top-tier winner since he’s already set to be with the Illusionists later this year and we know successful magicians can rest in Las Vegas and other parts of the world. He has the sort of act that should carry his future rather well.
3. Grace VanderWaal (season 11) – Grace is moving up a little bit this year on the heels of her starting to get more into acting — it feels like she’s found a way to really continue her career through multiple avenues, which means more platforms for her music down the road. She’s going to be remembered for a while.
2. Mat Franco (season 9) – At the moment, there’s still a pretty big divide between the top two and almost everyone else, given that these guys have successfully performed in Las Vegas now for years and shown significant staying power. Mat managed to be that rare magician who was not only really talented, but also appealed to viewers young and old.
1. Terry Fator (season 2) – In the end, it’s hard to argue with success, and Terry may be one of the most successful reality winners ever. According to Forbes, he made almost $19 million in 2017 alone, mostly on the back of his show at the Mirage. He is basically a Las Vegas mainstay and what every winner should strive to be.
Who is your favorite America’s Got Talent winner from the past thirteen seasons? Share right now in the comments!
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