Brandon Leake was crowned as the latest winner of America's Got Talent on Sept. 23, becoming the 15th winner in the show's history. The spoken-word poet was grateful for his win, but in its aftermath, some wondered whether the show was as transparent as it appeared to be. Some have even suggested that the show might be pre-scripted in favor of certain contestants and outcomes.
Is 'America's Got Talent' rigged?
No reality series is as straightforward as it appears to be, and AGT is not an exception. Past auditioners have suggested that the show manipulates outcomes, especially during the auditions. In 2012, a circus act that auditioned for the show claimed that the process was "rigged" in a Live Journal post and that the audience was trained to respond positively and negatively to certain contestants in advance.
According to this auditioner, the show had reached out to them every season in order to recruit them for an audition. When they agreed to audition, the auditioner claims that their act was storyboarded by producers and that they ran parts of their act before they went before the live audience and judges. When they finally did audition, they were booed off the stage by the audience, which she found odd given how hard the show had worked to recruit them.
The auditioner also wrote that “the contract says ‘Producers of America’s Got Lawsuits reserve the right to determine the winner by any means they choose.'" The post continues with another accusation, this time about the audience. “Later, my mother reclaims her cell phone from the audience security point and tells me that the audience was coached, their cue to boo was the crewman with the white sign in front of stage right," the post reads.
"We learn that the audience was seeded with plants, paid to be there, knowing who wins, the locals who lined up for tickets instructed, ‘If someone next to you jumps up or makes an X, you do it, too!’ Knowing that the contest and the voting and the judging is rigged, I don’t know why it surprises me so much that the audience is rigged, too," she continued.
Are the winners on 'America's Got Talent' picked in advance?
Although this accusation makes a lot of claims about the auditions, there have been fewer claims about later rounds of the competition. It's possible that, in those initial rounds, the show is more produced. Later, once the producers are happy with the roster of acts that are still in the competition, they may let the show play out as it appears to, complete with live voting.
Whether the show is totally rigged or not remains an open question. It's possible that the show is produced the way many reality shows are. Although the accusation made by this auditioner is concerning, it's only a single accusation, and one that was made almost a decade ago. Ultimately, though, audiences at home are likely more interested in the entertainment the show provides than in how real it is.