Courtney Hadwin is just 14 years old, but she might end up the winner of America’s Got Talent 2018. Hadwin was the golden buzzer winner, granted the honor by AGT judge Howie Mandel, who compared the young singer to Janis Joplin. Her quirky performance style, especially for such a shy girl, has won over America and there’s a good chance she could be the season 13 winner.
Like several other contestants, Hadwin has appeared on other reality competition shows, but some fans have voiced on social media that, because of this, she has an unfair advantage. Others have said she’s too young to win, but she wouldn’t be the youngest person to win AGT. Hadwin’s biggest fan on the judges’ panel, Mandel, has clapped back at those who have criticized Hadwin, according to Good Housekeeping.
Mandel explained that the rules of AGT state that anyone with any kind of talent can audition on the show. He went on to say, “What about if you’re a tennis player? You can compete in the French Open, the U.S. Open, you can go to Wimbledon. And people go, ‘That’s not fair, he played in another [tournament], he was in this, I saw that guy at the French Open or playing Wimbledon!’ It’s kind of the same thing.”
He continued, saying, “It’s the same thing with me: I’m Canadian. Coming down here and getting a career kind of solidified it for me. So I love that it [America’s Got Talent] draws people in and shows the gravitas and the importance of coming to America … I do read online where people go ‘That’s not fair! She was on another show. When did you make up that rule?'”
Ahead of tonight’s finals, Hadwin took to Instagram to reach out and thank her fans for their support. Hadwin wrote, “I can’t believe I’m here. Thank you guys so so much for all the support. #agt.” When reflecting on her AGT journey, Hadwin said she’s greatly enjoyed herself. She also told Good Housekeeping that, “It’s been really nerve-wracking as I want to give my best performance. But I’m still having fun at the same time.”
On Gold Derby, Hadwin is in the top of the votes as the predicted winner of AGT, with singer Michael Ketterer, acrobatic group Zurcaroh and magician Shin Lim trailing closely behind her.
When Howie Mandel first saw Hadwin on the AGT, after her performance, he gushed that, “Oh my gosh, you are not from this era. You’re from a whole different era. I’m not Clive Davis, I’m Howie Mandel, and I can’t sign you to a record deal. The only thing I can do for you, young lady, is give you [the Golden Buzzer].”
Tune in to the NBC network, at 8 p.m. ET/PT and 7 p.m. CT, on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, to see Courtney Hadwin perform during the finals. The live results will then be announced on September 19, 2018, Wednesday night. The winner takes home $1 million and gets to headline their own show in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November 2018.