'America's Got Talent' Million Dollar Prize Is Not What It Seems

There’s no shortage of TV shows that highlight some of the best talents in the world, but America’s Got Talent is one of the few that offers contestants the opportunity to branch out. Typical acts like singing and dancing have competition shows specific to them (although they’re included), but America’s Got Talent promotes a wide range of talents that are funny, shocking, and in a lot of cases — terrifying to watch. 

The million-dollar prize is what really brings the best of the best to the show. Little do you know, the prize isn’t actually what it seems, and to some — isn’t a big enough prize for the winner.

‘America’s Got Talent’ airs a variety of acts for a big cash prize

Similar to popular shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent showcases the best of the best through auditions and several competitions to follow. Instead of just highlight singers, however, the judges watch an array of acts compete, from magicians and ventriloquists to dancers, singers, and comedians.

It’s the whole package and then some. There are even talents on the show that most of us didn’t even know existed.

In just 2018 alone, there were an array of fascinating talents on America’s Got Talent, including a tumbling act, a silent contestant swinging a sword blindfolded, one who can bend his body in a number of disturbing ways, a father/daughter acrobat duo, and another with a pocket full of athletic jump-rope tricks—with two sprained ankles!

At the end, the winning act gets a lucrative million-dollar prize.

How their ‘million-dollar prizes’ actually work

Chances are, you’ve heard all about the incredible million-dollar prize awarded to contestants who win the show. NBC and contestants rave about it all the time. What you hear about less is how it’s actually distributed! 

While contestants like Elias and Zion (and nearly everyone else) expect to be able to spend the big prize on a ‘college education’ or ‘fast cars [and] luxury watches,’ that won’t be the case. 

The million-dollar prize is actually split up into payments of the year — not just one lump sum.

“If you read the fine print on the screen at the end of the finale last night, the million-dollar prize is actually a 40-year-long annuity,” Forbes explains. “In reality, Murphy, whose impressive singing voice resembles that of Frank Sinatra, can expect an annual payout of only $25,000—before taxes, that is. Murphy will be offered a lump cash payment in lieu of the annuity, but this will likely be in the $300,000 range (again, before taxes).”

Winners aren’t instant millionaires, but their careers will benefit

Now, with that being said, that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t worth the reward. You may not get a million-dollar lump sum prize as you expected, but you are guaranteed a jump-start in your career (and the potential for a long-lasting one).

In fact, several winners have gone on to have successful careers following their AGT wins.

Among the contestants who made it big, there’s Mat Franco, the incredible magician who won in season nine, Terry Fator, the ventriloquist and comedian that won in season two, and Michael Grimm, the talented singer who won season five and went on to make several albums and hit some top spots on Billboard. 

It’s likely a bummer to find out that the million-dollar prize for winners on America’s Got Talent isn’t as luxurious as they make it sound, but there’s no doubting the benefit that still comes with being a winner. That money is still much more than many of us have on hand, and the potential for success after your big win sets you up for a lifetime of fame and success and has made some contestants VERY rich.

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