'America's Got Talent' champion selected

LOS ANGELES - September 17, 2009

The singing chicken farmer from Mayfield, Ky., was awarded the NBC talent competition's $1 million grand prize and a headlining spot at a Las Vegas show. Skinner received the most viewer votes on Wednesday's season finale, overcoming runner-up Barbara Padilla, an opera singer from Houston, and eight other finalists. The win brought Skinner to tears.

"I've always loved to perform," he said. "I want to go out there, and give 'em the best show I can."

The humble country singer will headline an "America's Got Talent" show at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino hosted by Jerry Springer in October. Skinner beat out music quartet Recycled Percussion from Goffstown, N.H.; crooning trio the Texas Tenors from Houston; and singing sibling act Voices of Glory from Highland, N.Y., to win the show's fourth season.

Earlier in the evening, half the finalists were dismissed from the talent competition: breakdancer Hairo Torres from Grants Pass, Ore.; crooner Lawrence Beamen from Walnut Creek, Calif.; power tap-dancing sisters the Fab Five from Morgan, Utah; singer-guitarist Drew Stevyns from Sykesville, Md.; and 75-year-old comedian Grandma Lee from Jacksonville, Fla.

Before Skinner was announced the winner, Susan Boyle made her U.S. TV singing debut with a cover of the Rolling Stones ballad "Wild Horses." The dowdy Scottish sensation surprised viewers of "Britain's Got Talent" earlier this year with her soaring rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream." The clip of her first appearance on that show garnered millions of YouTube hits.

The top 10 finalists kicked off the finale by joining Thelma Houston on "Don't Leave Me This Way." Later, a cavalcade of audition-round rejects returned to the stage to perform "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." The finale also included performances by Leona Lewis, Shakira, Rascal Flatts and the cast of the new Cirque du Soliel production "Banana Shpeel."


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