‘AGT’ Judge Howie Mandel’s Best Golden Buzzer Acts, Ranked

Jill O'Rourke
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Howie Mandel with Northwell Nurse ChoirPhoto by: Tyler Golden/NBC

Howie Mandel has hit the Golden Buzzer for a lot of acts in his time as an America’s Got Talent judge. Some of his choices for the honor made it far, while others actually went on to win the show. Let’s rank the best acts Mandel has recognized over the years.


Howie Mandel’s Best Golden Buzzer Acts, Ranked

9. Joseph Allen

This rapper and singer earned Mandel’s Golden Buzzer in Season 14, when he was 21 years old. Joseph performed an original song, saying he wants to leave a “footprint” on the world. In an emotional moment, Mandel got up on the judges’ table and hit the buzzer with his foot. Joseph was eliminated in the Quarterfinals, so he didn’t make it as far as other Golden Buzzers, but he still made an impression.

8. Christian Guardino

This singer auditioned for AGT in Season 12, when he was 16 years old. Even though he was nervous he blew the judges away with a performance of “Who’s Lovin’ You” by the Jackson 5. Christian said he wished for the Golden Buzzer, so Mandel gave it to him. The singer made it to the Semifinals. This year, he made it to the Top 7 on American Idol Season 20.

7. Northwell Health Nurse Choir

This New York choir made up of frontline nurses delivered an emotional audition in Season 16, performing a medley of “Lean on Me” and “Stand By Me.” Mandel called them “heroic” and told them he wants to stand by them by hitting the Golden Buzzer. The choir made it all the way to the Top 10 of the competition.


6. Courtney Hadwin

This shy singer auditioned for AGT Season 13 when she was just 13 years old. No one expected the rock ‘n’ roll voice she displayed on a cover of “Hard to Handle” by Otis Redding. Mandel compared her to Janis Joplin and hit the Golden Buzzer. Courtney made it to the Top 10 and later returned for AGT: The Champions.

5. Angelica Hale

The first time Angelica competed on AGT in Season 12, she received the Golden Buzzer from guest judge Chris Hardwick and ended up finishing in second place. Angelica returned for the first season of AGT: The Champions at age 11 to sing “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. This time, it was Mandel who hit the Golden Buzzer for her, sending her to the Finals.

4. Drew Lynch

This comedian auditioned for Season 10 of the competition at age 23, sharing that he suffered a sports injury that gave him a stutter. Mandel connected with Drew’s comedy and chose to hit the Golden Buzzer for him. The comedian ended up finishing the season in second place, and he later returned for AGT: The Champions.


3. V.Unbeatable

This acrobatic dance group from India finished Season 14 of AGT in fourth place after receiving a Golden Buzzer from guest judge Dwyane Wade. They made a major comeback when they returned for the second season of AGT: The Champions, earning another Golden Buzzer from Mandel. V.Unbeatable then went on to win the Champions competition with their incredible moves.

2. Brandon Leake

In Season 15, this performer became the first spoken-word poet to perform on the show. In his audition, he performed an emotional poem for his sister who passed away. Mandel told Brandon that he moved him to hit the Golden Buzzer. Brandon went on to win the entire season, becoming the first poet to earn the prize.

1. Grace VanderWaal

In Season 11, this 12-year-old singer and ukulele player charmed the judges with her original song. Mandel referred to the title of the song when he told Grace that the world will know her name, hitting the Golden Buzzer to send her to the live shows. Grace went on to win the competition. Now 18, Grace is releasing music and starring in movies, so it looks like Mandel was right.

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