The votes are in, and the America’s Got Talent winner of season 15 is Brandon Leake.
After being declared the next AGT champion, Brandon was overcome with emotions.
“This is a huge win for the spoken-word community,” Brandon said on Wednesday, according to USA Today. “For an art form that has not been on the main stream ever to have a chance to win America’s Got Talent is bigger than anything.”
The road to Brandon’s victory certainly wasn’t easy. Brandon earned his win after competing against season 15 finalists Archie Williams, Alan Silva, Roberta Battaglia, Cristina Rae, Daneliya Tuleshova, BAD Salsa, the Bello Sisters, Kenadi Dodds, and Broken Roots. But in the end, Brandon triumphed, and as host Terry Crews proudly announced, Brandon will now get to enjoy a $1 million prize.
That said, the $1 million prize isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. There’s no giant check presented or suitcase full of cash immediately handed over to the winner of AGT. At the end of each episode, AGT viewers will notice a disclaimer that explains that the “$1,000,000 is payable in a financial annuity over forty years, or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of such annuity.” Long story short, while it’s possible Brandon can become a millionaire by using AGT’s exposure to jumpstart his career, winning the show alone doesn’t always do the trick.
Forbes did the math on the prize back in 2011 and concluded that if a contestant opted for the first option of receiving payouts over 40 years, that means they could only receive about $25,000 a year (and that’s before taxes). Otherwise, the outlet said if the winner opted to receive the “present cash value,” they’d only get about $300,000 before taxes. The two choices present options for contestants of different ages — a winner under 18, for example, may find the 40-year payout to be better for them, whereas an older adult may prefer the lump sum. Either way, both don’t equate to $1 million, according to this analysis.
Of course, contestants wouldn’t join the NBC series if they didn’t think it would benefit their career in some way. Given America’s Got Talent’s insane popularity, it’s arguable that getting the performer’s name out there is much more important than the prize itself. For instance, season 14 winner Kodi Lee signed an album deal with Columbia Records/Syco after becoming the champion last summer. Meanwhile, 2016 winner Grace Vanderwaal sold out her headlining tours and even landed a role in Disney’s Stargirl.
All that said, we have a feeling Brandon will be just as successful.