Neal E. Boyd crowned 'America's Got Talent's' third-season winner
By John Bracchitta, 10/02/2008
Neal E. Boyd, a 32-year-old insurance-salesman-turned-opera-singer from Sikeston, MO, was revealed to be America's Got Talent's third-season champion during last night's live finale broadcast of the NBC reality talent competition.
"I love you Mom -- I know you're at home watching -- I love you so much!" a tearful Boyd shouted after America's Got Talent host Jerry Springer's announcement that home viewers had voted him the show's third-season winner.
"What has happened to my life... thank you America!" he added.
As America's Got Talent 3's winner, Boyd -- who narrowly edged Eli Mattson, a 26-year-old pianist and singer from Chicago, IL, by a vote margin of less that 0.5%, according to Springer -- received a $1,000,000 prize, the show's "Best New Act In America" title," and the opportunity to headline a special October 17 Las Vegas show that will also feature second-season winner Terry Fator and several other third-season acts.
However unfortunately for Boyd, unlike most reality show winners (but just like Fator), he won't actually be receiving his full cash prize anytime soon.
Instead, Boyd's $1,000,000 prize will be paid over via a lottery prize-like 40-year period. Boyd can (and probably will) opt to pass on the $25,0000 annual payments and instead receive a lump sum, however should he do so, the present cash value of the prize will be no more than several hundred thousand dollars.
After revealing Boyd's victory, Jerry also revealed that Boyd would also be receiving one more "surprise" -- a congratulatory video message from opera singer Placido Domingo.
"By taking part inAmerica's Got Talent, you have brought [opera] to America's ears. So be proud of it, and I'm sure from today on you are starting a brilliant career. All of my best and congratulations," the legendary opera singer said.
Earlier in the show Boyd had also received a video message of support from Il Divo, whose song "Mama" he had performed in an earlier round.
America's Got Talent's one-hour live finale began with five finalists -- Boyd; Mattson; Nuttin' But Strings, a hip-hop violin duo comprised of 21-year-old Damien Escobar and his 23-year-old brother Tourie Escobar from Jamaica Queens, NY; Donald Braswell, a singer from San Antonio, TX; and Queen Emily, a 40-year-old soul singer from Stockton, CA -- still in the running to be crowned the show's third-season winner.
After filling the first half of the broadcast with performances from the season's Top 10 finalists, British pop-singer Leona Lewis, and the "America's Got Talent Audition All-Stars" (a collection of rejected audtioneers), Jerry revealed that, based on the results of the home viewer voting that followed last week's Final 5 performance show, Queen Emily would be the first finalist eliminated from the competition.
While disappointed, Queen Emily took the news rather well and was thankful to those who supporter her.
"I would just like to thank America for supporting me, and everybody that voted for me. You're the greatest," she told the audience.
"You've given us weeks and months of great entertainment. Good luck to you. You've got a great future," Jerry told her before giving her a kiss on the forehead.
Jerry didn't waste much time before next revealing that Donald Braswell would be the next finalist eliminated from the competition.
Acknowledging that Braswell was the "wild card" act that the fans had voted to bring back into the competition, Jerry told Donald that he had likely been through "the wildest route to the Final 4."
"I just want to say to everyone out there that has followed me through this, as well as the judges who gave me that second chance to be put in front of America. God bless you. Thank you so much. You've given me and my family such an incredible gift," an appreciative Donald said to the crowd in between blowing kisses.
Jerry then revealed -- to a shocked crowed and judges -- that Nuttin' But Stringz would be eliminated from the competition, leaving Boyd and Mattson as season 3's finalists.
"Well we taught America that when you dream big, dreams come true. We didn't even think we would get this far," Damien said. "We made violin cool, and we brought a new culture of music to America."
"Nuttin' But Stringz, it defines passion, it defines heart, we are epidemic. When you get it, you're gonna have it," added a more emotional Tourie.
Mattson took the news of his loss well and congratulated and embraced Boyd immediately after his victory was announced.
"You were phenomenonal, ladies and gentlemen let's have a hand for Eli Mattson," Springer said as he shook hands with the runner-up before he exited the stage.
(Photo credit NBC/Chris Haston)
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