Talent Recap

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Season 16 ‘America’s Got Talent’ Winner Dustin Tavella


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Magician Dustin Tavella just won Season 16 of America’s Got Talent in what Terry Crews revealed as the closest vote in AGT history. Dustin wowed the judges and viewers with his inspiring magic acts and shared his very personal story about adopting his two sons. Did you know that magic wasn’t even his initial career path?

1. ‘AGT’ Winner Dustin Tavella is an Accomplished Musician

Dustin was doing music full-time before picking up the playing cards and pursuing magic professionally. He started his YouTube channel in 2010 where he began to release original songs. His first post on his channel was the video “My Playground” 11 years ago. He looks very different in this video but everyone in the comments section applauded his singing abilities. They hoped he would get a recording contract someday. Winning $1 million and a headlining show in Las Vegas over a decade later is a pretty sweet deal.


2. ‘AGT’ Was Not His First Time Competing on a Television Show

Dustin competed for the heart of Paige Duke on the CMT TV show Sweet Home Alabama in 2012. It was a dating show where a group of men, some from the country, and some from big cities, were looking for love. It followed a similar format to The Bachelorette but with more cowboys. On Sweet Home Alabama, Dustin brought his guitar and played some entertaining tunes for his housemates. He did not end up with Paige but did end up with quite a few friends from the show. Some of his cast members helped him out with his music video for the song, “Do It Like Bubba.”

3. He Has a Special Connection to Selena Gomez

It was his song “Everybody Knows (Douchebag)” that caught the attention of superstar Selena Gomez. She posted a video dancing to the song in 2013 as a dig at her ex-boyfriend Justin Bieber. Gomez’s friend Francia Raisa starred in the official music video for the song. It now has over 1.6 million views on YouTube. Gomez even made a cameo towards the end of the video. Actor Danny Trejo also starred in Dustin’s music video. Since this video took off, Dustin continued to post more songs, collaborations with his wife, and episodes of his own show called D PLUS.

4. He Opened Up About His Rough Childhood

Dustin shared in an interview his father was a drug dealer. He and his sister grew up in an environment that he described as “chaos.” Dustin said that the way they lived was very “stressful” and full of “hurt and drama.” The siblings witnessed a lot of partying, alcohol, and drug abuse early on in their lives. Dustin’s parents were in and out of church throughout his childhood. Finally, at a Christian festival, his parents met a couple that helped them get their lives back on track. Later on, when he got to the age where his other friends were drinking and partying, Dustin decided to pick up magic instead of living a lifestyle he didn’t want to live.

5. Before ‘AGT’ Dustin Tavella Performed as a Clown

When Dustin was around 9 years old, a man speaking at his church asked if anybody wanted to volunteer and help the homeless. He raised his hand. The man suggested that Dustin dress up as a clown. It wasn’t exactly magic, but it still brought people the same kind of joy that magic does. Dustin’s grandparents loved to go to Atlantic City to gamble when he was growing up. They would bring him along and take him to magic shows. He also enjoyed getting stuff from the magic shop by his house and entertaining those around him. As he got older, he thought being a clown wasn’t cool anymore. He never thought of pursuing a magic career full time. That’s when he shifted his attention to music. 

6. This Was Not His First Time Auditioning for ‘AGT

Dustin shared that he auditioned for previous seasons of AGT multiple times. It’s crazy that he was initially rejected. We often see so many stars say that they were first rejected by talent shows in their early careers. Rejection just motivates people even more. In Dustin’s case, he kept coming back and was able to win it all, a true inspiration to never give up on your dreams.

7. His Wife Predicted He Was Going to Win 3 Years Ago

While some viewers may have been shocked that Dustin was declared the winner, there was one person who knew all along that he was going to win. Dustin’s wife, Kari, first predicted three years ago that he was going to win AGT. Even after all of the times he auditioned and didn’t make it, she still remained firm that he was going to win. She obviously turned out to be right.

8. He Sang Backup for Thirty Seconds to Mars

Dustin stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show to perform a new trick after winning AGT. Some might even be shocked to find out this was actually not his first time on the show. He first appeared on Ellen in 2014 as a background singer for Thirty Seconds to Mars. He wore a ski mask during the performance and joked that nobody would ever believe it was him. 

9. Did You Catch Dustin Tavella’s Mistake During the ‘AGT’ Live Shows?

During one live performance on AGT this season, Dustin had Howie Mandel up on the stage to watch his close-up magic trick. It came time for Dustin to count out 10 cards to make the trick work. He only counted nine. He quickly regrouped and realized that there were 10 cards after all. The pressure was definitely on but he handled it like a champion. 

10. This ‘AGT’ Star Has a Passion for Helping Others

After high school, Dustin spent six years as a full-time missionary. He worked with kids in orphanages, spoke at prisons, and helped the homeless. He moved to Los Angeles hoping to get his big break. He started hanging out on skid row, a 54-block area of Los Angeles where people are experiencing homelessness. He invited many of them into his one-bedroom apartment for food, showers, and movie nights. They became family to him. He and his wife also began working with an organization helping women in crisis pregnancies. They connected deeply with one woman who asked them to adopt her biological son Xander. The couple later got a call to reunite Xander with his older brother. They adopted Sylas during Dustin’s time on AGT

What Will Dustin Tavella Do With the ‘AGT’ Prize Money?

Dustin has some big plans for the $1 million prize. First and foremost, he said he was going to get his kids four-wheelers. Over the years of helping other people and running a homeless ministry, Dustin and Kari fell on some hard times financially. They often wondered how they were going to pay their rent. They had so many people show up for them and help them out when they needed it the most. Dustin wants to use the money to help other people in need pay rent and follow their passions. He plans to open his home up to people that need shelter. He touched on this more when we interviewed him before he even won AGT.

After finding a little bit more about Dustin, it’s so obvious why America decided to crown him as the winner of Season 16. His entire journey on the show wasn’t so much about cool tricks, but more about teaching important life lessons, giving people hope, and showing that magic is so much more than just a deck of cards and optical illusions.

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Balki Bartokomous
Balki Bartokomous
2 years ago

 He seems like he has a good heart.

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