Getting a Golden Buzzer on 'America's Got Talent' Is a Big Deal — What Does It Mean?

Stephanie Harper - Author

May 30 2023, Updated 8:16 p.m. ET

Lily Meola receives the Golden Buzzer on 'America's Got Talent' Season 17
Source: NBC

One of the reasons people love a reality TV show like America’s Got Talent is that it gives average individuals the chance to showcase their most riveting skills. Too many people in the world have impressive talents that no one will ever lay eyes on.

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America’s Got Talent gives those people a chance to show the world what they can do –– and how far they can go with their talents. Fans of the show know about the Golden Buzzer quite well, but for those who aren’t sure what it’s all about, here are the details.

Sara James receives the Golden Buzzer on 'America's Got Talent' Season 17
Source: NBC
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What is the Golden Buzzer all about on 'America’s Got Talent'?

The short and simple answer for what the Golden Buzzer represents on America’s Got Talent is a fast-track invitation to the live performance stage. If you’re performing in front of the judges on America’s Got Talent and they totally love what they’re seeing, they’re going to tap that Golden Buzzer for you.

Receiving a Golden Buzzer is a very big deal because it means you don’t have to deal with lower levels of competition among other contestants. Golden Buzzer contestants get the chance to skip ahead in a major way. One of the most exciting aspects of a Golden Buzzer moment is that the background and stage will completely light up while gold confetti starts sprinkling down.

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Avery Dixon receives the Golden Buzzer on 'America's Got Talent' Season 17
Source: NBC

There’s a major catch when it comes to the Golden Buzzer, though! Judges are only allowed to tap the buzzer one time throughout the entire season. This means if they use the buzzer on an awesome performer in the first few episodes, they won’t be able to use a second buzzer on another performer they might think is better who shows up later on.

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The Golden Buzzer wasn’t always part of America’s Got Talent. Interestingly enough, it only became a staple of the show in 2014 during the ninth season. Prior to that, it wasn’t incorporated at all. At first, the Golden Buzzer was used to save contestants from instant elimination. Now, it has a much more special purpose.

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Are there any other 'America’s Got Talent' rules viewers should know about?

Achieving a Golden Buzzer is always going to be one of the biggest goals for contestants on the show. There are other rules contestants must keep up with, though. Performers have to collect at least three “yes" votes from the panel of judges if they want to move forward on the show. Without three total votes in their direction, there is no escaping elimination.

Season 18 of America’s Got Talent features Heidi Klum, Sofia Vergara, Howie Mandel, and Simon Cowell as the judges who are waiting to be impressed by the performers. Terry Crews is the host of the show, and impressing him is a good idea since he also has the ability to use a Golden Buzzer.

Catch America's Got Talent on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. Starting August 23, 2023, the show will also air on Wednesdays.

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