With season 15 of America’s Got Talent currently underway, someone will be walking away as the winner at the end of it all. But what happens to the act that comes in second place? We’re going to take a deep dive into all of the runners up and what they are up to today to answer the age-old question of whether or not you have to win the show in order to achieve success.
Season 1 ‘America’s Got Talent’ Runners Up All That!
This clogging group was literally like the Backstreet Boys of clogging. They had the looks and the coordination to go all the way. All That! were actually eliminated in the semifinals but returned for the wild card show in which they managed to secure a spot. They made it all the way to the top two but lost out on the crown to Bianca Ryan. All That! returned to America’s Got Talent in season seven with new members and were eliminated in the quarterfinals. But once again, they were brought back for the wild card and ultimately were eliminated in the semifinals.
All That! also competed under a new name, NXT LVL on the first season of World of Dance, where they were eliminated in the audition round. Since then, the group has traveled the world performing all over Europe and Asia and even went on to work to promote the popular soda brand, Mountain Dew.
Season 2 Cas Haley
Cas Haley appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2007, bringing his unique reggae-rock voice to the competition. Unfortunately, he came up short taking second place behind superstar winner Terry Fator. But he didn’t let that stop him from going on to put out his own original music. Cas’ self-titled album charted in the top 10 on the reggae album charts. He also put out four more albums and toured the world introducing them to a new rock n’ roll side of reggae. His career did suffer after he took a brutal fall on a skiing trip that left him unable to sing for quite a while.
In 2018, his family also went through another traumatic experience when his wife Cassy was diagnosed with a dangerous form of breast cancer. Life certainly became grimmer with the possibility of chemo and surgery in the cards for Cassy. Thankfully Cassy has been winning the battle against the terrible disease. The pair channeled their energy into writing songs together. Cas currently loves spending time with his family on their farm.
Season 3 Eli Mattson
Singer and pianist Eli Mattson lost out on the America’s Got Talent title to late winner Neal E. Boyd. In 2008, he joined the other ‘AGT’ finalists to perform at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. In 2009, Eli went to LA to start recording for the Epic division of Sony Music while also making several appearances at the previous year’s winner Terry Fator’s Las Vegas show. Terry made it very clear that he was a fan of Eli’s from the start and voted for him numerous times on America’s Got Talent. Eli definitely has one of the more somber runner up stories after suffering several health issues along with alcohol addiction. This has made him fall off the map a little bit but he recently hinted at making a comeback. Maybe we’ll see him on America’s Got Talent: The Champions in the future.
Season 4 Barbara Padilla
Opera singer Barbara Padilla finished behind winner Kevin Skinner in 2009. After her second-place finish, Barbara performed in the America’s Got Talent Live concert. She put out a self-titled album in 2014 and opened up about her battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. One thing Barbara has become a pioneer of is “popera” the mixture of pop music and opera to give it a more modern-day spin. She also continued to sing in Spanish, English, Italian and French.
Season 5 Jackie Evancho
Michael Grimm shockingly brought home a win after beating frontrunner Jackie Evancho in 2010. However, we can all agree that Jackie was and still is the star of the show. With seven solo albums and numerous chart-topping singles, Jackie is probably the most successful America’s Got Talent runner up ever. She has had over three million record sales in the United States and made history as the youngest solo platinum artist and the youngest person to have a solo concert at Lincoln Center. It’s been quite the decade for Jackie who had three PBS television specials and an appearance in the movie The Company We Keep alongside Robert Redford.
But perhaps her greatest feat so far is appearing as The Kitty on The Masked Singer which helped her find herself and become more in touch with her sexier side. Jackie is definitely growing up right before our eyes and blossoming into a bold performer.
Season 6 The Silhouettes
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. won the crown in 2011, but it was The Silhouettes that really made a mark on the competition coming in second. This dance group returned for ‘AGT: Champions’ and got judge Alesha Dixon’s Golden Buzzer. Heidi Klum even cried during their performance. They finished the competition in the bottom five of the top 10. One thing super admirable about this group is that it was their mission to raise money for homeless children in the United States. So far, they have raised over $50,000
through their dance performances. They are very active on their YouTube channel with tributes to firefighters and first responders. Most recently they got back into the studio for rehearsals and classes while taking proper social distancing precautions of course.
Season 7 Tom Cotter
Tom Cotter brought the funny when he appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2012 but ultimately lost out to Olate Dogs. He returned for America’s Got Talent: The Champions but honestly, his performance was not up to par with some of the other acts and Simon Cowell was not too impressed. Tom went on to co-star on an episode of CBS’ The Good Wife. and also came out with his first book, “Bad Dad: A Guide to Pitiful Parenting.”
He was also featured in the Miramax Film, Next Stop Wonderland and does his own comedy shows and appearances all over the country.
Season 8 Taylor Williamson
For the second year in a row, a comedian was a runner up. Taylor Williamson lost out on the winner title to dancer Kenichi Ebina. He was definitely best remembered for his fake relationship with Heidi that played out on the show through flirting. He returned to ‘AGT: The Champions’ to rekindle this romance. They even came out with a hilarious documentary spoof to prove their relationship was real. Taylor was actually mentioned as one of the five favorite acts of all time during the 10th-anniversary special. He put out a comedy album called “Laughter? I Hardly Know Her!” and just released his first comedy special on Amazon Prime.
Season 9 Emily West
Emily West stunned with her rendition of the song “Chandelier” By Sia during her audition. Ultimately, it was magician Mat Franco that walked away with the prize. After appearing on America’s Got Talent, Emily signed a record deal with Sony Masterworks. She went on to release an album called “All For You.” She toured the country with her one-woman show as the opening act for Jay Leno. She has hinted at coming out with more music in the future.
Season 10 Drew Lynch
Drew Lynch really inspired people with his story about how suffering a baseball injury led him to have a stutter. He did not let this hinder his dreams of becoming a comedian and used it as the topic of several of his jokes. While he lost out on the top spot to Paul Zerdin in 2015, Drew returned for America’s Got Talent: The Champions. There, he was eliminated in the preliminaries. He launched a very successful YouTube channel with over two million subscribers. He uploads several vlogs talking about having a service dog as well as other hilarious comedic moments. Drew also shared on Instagram that he recently did his first virtual comedy show.
Season 11 The Clairvoyants
The Clairvoyants were one of the craziest mind-bending acts to ever appear on ‘AGT.’ The mentalists returned to America’s Got Talent: The Champions, but were eliminated way too early in the Preliminaries. However, appearing in season 11, Thommy and Amélie have been touring the world with their own act. They also appeared in the show The Illusionists: Turn of the Century on Broadway which is the most successful magic act ever to hit the iconic Broadway stage. The pair have performed 10 times on America’s Got Talent as guests. A huge highlight of their career was the opportunity to perform their show at the Sydney Opera House.
Season 12 Angelica Hale
Angelica Hale is a tiny powerhouse vocalist that took the runner up title after losing out to winner Darci Lynne Farmer in 2017. She was just 11 when she auditioned not knowing it would change her life forever. She had a tear-filled elimination but will always be remembered for her Golden Buzzer performance of “Girl On Fire.” She returned for ‘AGT: The Champions’ once again losing out on the title. Angelica has gone on to appear on Little Big Shots and The Today Show along with several other appearances. She is also a voice-over artist and actress for the film “American Reject” and the animated series “Maya Unstoppable.” Her new album “What’s It Like” just came out and it is a great representation of this young talent.
Season 13 Zucaroh
Zucaroh was founded in Brazil and established in Austria. They were Tyra Banks’ Golden Buzzer that shocked the world with their incredible stunts and synchronization. Unfortunately, they were up against some stiff competition with magician Shin Lim and were named as the runners up. Since appearing on the show, they traveled all over the world doing shows though the coronavirus pandemic has hindered their ability to do public appearances as of recent. They were just named America’s Got Talent’s second most viral act of all time behind Kodi Lee in the ‘AGT’ 15th-anniversary special.
Season 14 Detroit Youth Choir
Detroit Youth Choir earned Terry Crews’ Golden Buzzer in 2019. Though they did not win the show, they still ended up with $1 million. Quite a few Detroit-based foundations and local business leaders announced a $1 million donation to the group following their life-changing time on the show. They also performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The choir has since doubled in size since being on ‘AGT’ now with 110 members and appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show. The choir participated in a documentary IMAX film called America’s Musical Journey.
‘America’s Got Talent: The Champions’ Season 1 Runner Up Darci Lynne Farmer
Darci Lynne won season 12 of America’s Got Talent but returned for ‘The Champions’ to see if she could get her second win. She need dup as the runner up next to Shin Lim. But, Darci is probably one of the most successful ‘AGT’ contestants even after this second-place finish. She even launched a national tour called Darci Lynne and Friends Live which expanded to 52 dates taking place between January 2018 and January 2019. It literally sold out so quickly that the dates needed to be extended. Let that sink in. She also hosted a Christmas special on NBC, and has announced a second tour called Fresh Out of the Box. This young talent is truly growing up right in front of our eyes. Will she ditch the puppets and focus on singing in the future?
Season 2 ‘Champions’ Runner Up Duo Transcend
Trapeze artists Duo Transcend finished in the bottom five of season 13. The pair had a little hiccup that led Mary to a scary fall during the Judge Cuts round but fortunately, it led to no serious injuries. They joined ‘AGT: The Champions’ after returning from a cross-country tour and made it all the way to the top two making sure to up their game every single week. But they lost out on the title to Indian dance group V. Unbeatable who was just powerful and flawless. Since their second stint on the show, the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to get a bit creative with their quarantine workouts at home. Not to mention, the pair have just celebrated their ninth marriage anniversary together. They also previously performed in the Celestia Show in Las Vegas.
So, do you need to win ‘AGT’ in order to be successful? In most cases, it definitely seems like the answer is yes, although there have been a few standout runner ups.
If you are wondering what happened to all of the winners of America’s Got Talent, check out the video below.