On Wednesday, Forbes released the list of the highest paid comedians of 2018 and America’s Got Talent winner Terry Fator cracked the top ten. Fator’s brand of comedy, singing ventriloquism, isn’t AGT’s usual fare but he does what he does better than anyone else and that has been the key to his success. Coming in at number seven on the list, he reportedly made $18 million this year alone.
Fator was a fan and judge favorite from his very first appearance on the show, in which his puppet Emma Taylor, sang a surprisingly impressive rendition of Etta James’ At Last. He continued to turn out incredibly versatile performances throughout the competition and eventually took home the million dollar prize. After his win in season 2, Fator sold out the Las Vegas Hilton three nights in a row, and eventually signed a yearlong $1.5 million contract with the hotel in 2008. All within the last ten years he has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, become a celebrity board member of the Ronald McDonald House charity, signed a $100 million contract with The Mirage hotel, written a book called Who’s the Dummy Now?, and he has returned to AGT several times as a special guest. During his most recent appearance on the season 12 finale, Fator performed alongside winner and fellow musical ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer.
Fator’s story is incredible, but not really the norm. Not everyone who competes in a talent competition finds success afterwards. For some people it can be impossible to get out from under the shadow of the show and be their own person, and for others once they leave they can’t seem to gain the necessary momentum to launch their career. So far, it appears that the most lucrative post-America’s Got Talent gig is comedian.
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God is Good! The fact that I’m even mentioned in the same conversation as these gentlemen is a blessing. It’s only going up from here too. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my fans! Thank you so much for coming out to my shows and buying my t shirts. Side note: Family and friends don’t ask me for money! Most of the money went to traffic tickets and court fees #GetTheMoneyLinda 💰
Other Got Talent favorite Preacher Lawson didn’t make the official Forbes list, but with a little photoshop and a convincing Instagram post and it was almost like he did. The 27 year-old funnyman cut and pasted himself into the number 10 spot, allegedly earning $15 million (the spot and income actually held by comedian Sebastian Maniscalo), and captioned his post, “Family and Friends don’t ask me for money! Most of the money went to traffic tickets and court fees #GetTheMoneyLinda💰” Lawson has a thriving self-titled YouTube channel with 190,000 subscribers, and continues to tour.
Also hitting the big time is season 11 standout Tape Face (aka Sam Wills), who like Terry Fator before him is currently in the dawn of a three-year residency at Harrah’s Las Vegas. While there’s no word on how much his contract is worth, judging by the $100,000 being poured into building him a custom theater, I think it’s safe to assume he won’t be buying his tape at the dollar store. It may be the singers that get all the attention, but despite what your second-grade teacher told you, it pays to be the class clown.