Joseph Allen is one of the fresh-faced rookies competing on season 36 of The Challenge: Double Agents. Allen is one of the youngest challengers in the house this season, as MTV pointed out in his cast bio, but Allen is also a reality TV veteran. Some fans may recognize Allen from his quarterfinals finish on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2019.
The cast photo on MTV’s website actually provides a glimpse of Allen’s personality. Every other competitor is portraying their “tough” face or smirking for the camera. Allen was the only person with a smile on his face.
Here’s what you need to know about Joseph Allen:
1. Joseph Allen Received Raving Reviews From the Judges on AGT & Earned Howie Mandel’s ‘Golden Buzzer’
Allen began creating music as a teenager. Hollywood Life, citing his now-deleted NBC bio, reported that Allen’s first original song was a tribute to his mother. As Allen explained on AGT, he recorded a video of himself singing the song and posted it on Facebook.
The positive feedback was immediate. Allen said listeners “started sharing the song like crazy.” That experience inspired him to learn how to properly produce and mix music. As a college student, Allen took on a job as a “certified tire technician” in order to raise enough money to turn his dorm room into a recording studio.
At age 21, Allen auditioned for America’s Got Talent. Before performing the original song, Allen explained to judges Simon Cowell, Julianne Hough, Gabrielle Union and Howie Mandel that his motivation stemmed from a desire to “make an impact on the world.”
Allen’s song inspired a standing ovation from both the crowd and the judges. Allen was so overwhelmed by the moment that he even shed a few tears at the end of the song. His performance also made Hough cry and all of the judges were impressed. Even the notoriously-harsh Cowell complimented Allen on his singing voice and told him he had “amazing energy.”
Mandel then brought the crowd back to its feet when he stood on top of the judge’s table as he further praised Allen. Mandel stepped on the “Golden Buzzer,” which meant Allen was heading straight to the quarterfinals of the competition. Mandel’s decision prompted Allen to jump up and down on the stage with excitement. Host Terry Crews joined in the celebration by picking up Allen and carrying him across the stage as confetti rained down.
However, Allen’s success on AGT was short-lived. Despite a quarterfinal performance that again wowed the judges, Allen was eliminated based on viewer votes. Allen sang his original song “Mama” for the quarterfinals and you can see that performance here.
2. Allen Said He Received Multiple Offers From Record Labels After AGT But Turned Them Down
Allen says he received three offers from record labels following his AGT run but he rejected them all. In an Instagram video that he published on October 30, Allen explained that one of the record labels even offered him a $150,000 advance. But he said he decided to decline the offers he “didn’t want to accept a short-term profit and miss out on long-term financial blessings.”
Allen is still producing and recording music as an independent artist. He explained on the Instagram video that since he relocated from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, he has been focused on “perfecting his craft” as a songwriter, producer and performer. Allen said his goal was to release new songs on a weekly basis.
As Allen continues to grow as a songwriter and pursue a music career, he says he does have to supplement his income. Allen explained that he sometimes drives for Uber and that he gets a kick out of it when riders recognize him.
3. Allen Grew Up In Texas & Majored in Digital Production at Grand Canyon University in Arizona
Allen grew up in Killeen, the city in Texas where the Fort Hood military base is located. According to local NBC affiliate KCEN-TV, Allen showed an interest in singing from an early age but faced a hurdle early on. He didn’t make the school choir as a third-grade student.
Allen’s elementary school teacher, Travis Branam, told the TV station Allen had a “unique low voice” from a young age and described him as a “super charismatic and gifted kid.” Branam eventually accepted Allen into the choir and awarded Allen with a solo.
Allen graduated from Ellison High School. His former German teacher, Katrin Roberson, told KCEN-TV that Allen used his music skills in her class. “He actually took a German nursery rhyme and he made it into a rap song to get extra credit.”
After high school, Allen moved to Arizona for college. He started out at Grand Canyon University as a mechanical engineering student before changing his major to digital production.
The university’s Center for Worship Arts featured Allen in a “Rising Talent Spotlight” article in 2017 after he created an original album called “College Lifestyle.” The writer described Allen’s “life philosophy” as such: “Joseph lives by the belief that anyone can live and create the life they want, but only if they are willing to make the sacrifices and decisions to see it happen. He also believes that everyone is worth more than they picture themselves as, and with hard work and dedication, we are all capable of living whatever lifestyle we want.”
4. Allen Said He Had 3 Near-Death Experiences as a Motocross Racer
Before Allen began pursuing music as a career, he was focused on motocross racing. Allen explained on AGT that he taught himself how to ride by watching YouTube videos and practicing on his own. Allen said all the training paid off and he started beating other racers who had been riding far longer.
He nonchalantly mentioned that he had broken many bones during his motocross days. As Hollywood Life reported, Allen’s body is “now held together with nine screws, a four-inch titanium plate, four internal nylon ropes, two metal anchors, and more.”
Allen recalled in a March 2020 Instagram post that a few of his injuries were very serious. He said he had three near-death experiences on the track. He wrote in the caption, “It’s crazy to wrap my head around the fact that the first slide was filmed almost 7 years ago. It was my first day on the big bikes (250cc) and the bike felt so big, I couldn’t even scrub or whip the bike for the video clips 😂 ( don’t worry, I get her sideways a couple years later on slide 5 😉 ) it’s crazy how I had 3 near death experiences in my career of racing, but I kept coming back to it, because I thought becoming a world champion was my calling 😂🙈 it’s crazy to think about how much the direction of my life has changed, but the one thing that has stayed consistent is my faith in Jesus Christ! I gave him the reins a long time ago, and he has never failed at leading me into the right things, the right people, the right relationships, the right moments, always at the right time!”
Allen also alluded to his motocross career when he signed on to compete on The Challenge. His MTV bio includes that “as a competitive motocross racer, joseph possesses mental toughness and refuses to back down from any challenge.”
5. Allen Grew Up in a Blended Family With 11 Older Siblings
Allen may be one of the youngest competitors on season 36 of The Challenge but he is well-accustomed to that role. Allen’s parents separated when he was just a toddler and both went on to remarry. Allen explained to AGT that he grew up in a blended family and that he was the youngest out of 12 siblings. Allen added that his mother, father, stepfather and stepmother all played influential and important roles in his life.
Allen’s MTV bio notes that his upbringing meant Allen would not be intimidated in a house full of older, more experienced veterans. “He’s learned how to stand up for himself and stand out from the crowd — even as an underdog.”
Before season 36 began, the other competitors did tease Allen like a little brother. Allen shared an MTV promo video to his Instagram page on November 19 in which his fellow challengers guessed how Allen might fare as a rookie. Kaycee Clark referred to Allen as a “goofball.” Two-time champion Wes Bergmann remarked that he and Allen possessed opposite skills and attributes; Wes credited Allen with being better-looking, a better singer and funnier than himself. Wes said he hoped that meant he was better at puzzles and had more endurance than Allen.
Nelson Thomas encouraged Allen to cut his sideburns, teasing that Allen was living back in the “disco world.” Kyle Christie added that he felt Allen didn’t know what was going on in terms of the political and social aspects of the game. Leroy Garrett agreed with that sentiment. Leroy adding that although Allen had a positive attitude about the Challenge experience, he didn’t think Allen was prepared for how dirty the game could become.
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