Terry Fator, a 42-year-old singing ventriloquist from Dallas, TX, was revealed to be America's Got Talent's second-season champion during last night's live finale broadcast of the NBC reality talent competition.
"Thank you America, thank you so much America," Fator said after a final celebratory performance that followed America's Got Talent host Jerry Springer's announcement that home viewers had voted Fator the show's second-season winner.
As America's Got Talent 2's winner, Fator -- who defeated Cas Haley, a 26-year-old reggae singer from Arlington, TX, to win the competition -- received a $1,000,000 prize and the show's "Best New Act In America" title. However unfortunately for Fator, unlike the winners of most other reality shows, he won't actually be receiving his full cash prize anytime soon.
Instead, similar to what NBC (which appears to have established a lock on the "America's Cheapest Reality TV Broadcast Network" title) did with For Love Or Money's $1,000,000 prize and Treasure Hunters' $3,000,000 prize, Fator's $1,000,000 prize will be paid over via a lottery prize-like 40-year period. Fator 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 Fator's victory, Springer also revealed that Fator would also be receiving one more "surprise" prize. "We've got one more surprise for you," Springer told Fator. "We know your dream is to play Las Vegas, [so] we're going to make that dream come true. You're going to be playing the Jubilee Theater at Bally's Resort." Springer didn't reveal whether, based on NBC's "fine print" prize practices, Fator might actually have to pay for the privilege.
America's Got Talent's filler-filled two-hour live finale began with four finalists -- Fator; Haley; Antoinette "Butterscotch" Clinton, a 21-year-old musician/beat-boxer from Davis, CA; and Julienne Irwin, a 14-year-old country singer from Bel Air, MD -- still in the running to be crowned the show's second-season winner.
After a first-hour broadcast that included all four finalists performing with a special guest (Fator with The Muppets, Haley with UB40, Butterscotch with Sean Kingston, and Irwin with Taylor Swift), Springer revealed that, based on the results of the home viewer voting that followed last week's Final 4 performance show, Irwin would be the first finalist eliminated from the competition.
Despite her young age, Irwin took the news well. "I'm not upset about this at all," an upbeat-sounding Irwin told Springer after her elimination was announced. "I've been in such good company and this journey has far exceeded my expectations, so it's just been so much fun."
After some more filler, Springer revealed that Butterscotch would be the next finalist eliminated from the competition, leaving Fator and Haley as the season's Final 2 finalists.
Butterscotch seemed to take the news of her elimination harder than Irwin. "Thank you for your support," she tearfully told home viewers. "I've seen my dreams come true on this stage [and] seen my dreams come true in real life."
Fator's victory was finally revealed after some more filler that included a performance by the "America's Got Talent All-Stars" (a collection of rejected non-Top 20 second-season contestants), a singing performance from America's Got Talent judge David Hasselhoff, and a pre-recorded "personal message" from 12-year-old Bianca Ryan, the show's first-season winner.
After Fator's victory was announced, Springer congratulated Haley and gave Fator -- who appeared to be overcome with emotion and on the verge of tears -- a moment to compose himself.
"Cas, you have been such a champ... we've all fallen in love with you," Springer told Haley, who had congratulated Fator immediately after his victory was announced. "You are a phenomenal talent, you have a great future. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Cas Haley."