Blind and autistic singer Kodi Lee wins America's Got Talent
Fan favourite Kodi Lee has been crowned the winner of America’s Got Talent.
Lee, who is blind and has autism, had been a front-runner on the show since wowing judges with his first audition.
The 22-year-old triumphed during Wednesday’s final, with America’s Got Talent judge Simon Cowellsaying it was the “best final I have ever Kodi Lee America’s Got Talentsat in on in my life”.
He won after performing a duet of Calum Scott’s You Are The Reason with British X Factor winner Leona Lewis.
When his name was read out as the winner, Lee jumped for joy while holding his mother Tina’s hand as confetti rained down.
Lee won ahead of opera singer Emanne Beasha, violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa, singer Benicio Bryant, dance troupe Light Balance Kids and the Ndlovu Youth Choir.
As well as taking home the one million US dollar prize pot (about £802,000), Lee will headline a string of Las Vegas shows in November.
Lee’s story had captivated viewers in the US, who were told he was born with an eye condition called optic nerve hypoplasia and was diagnosed with autism at the age of four.
His mother accompanied him on stage throughout the competition. His rendition of Leon Russell & Friends’ A Song For You in the first round went viral, after he stunned judges Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel with his performance.
Tina explained how singing had “saved his life”. She said: “We found out that he loved music really early on. He listened and his eyes just went huge, and he started singing, that’s when I was in tears.
“I realised he’s an entertainer. Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everybody else does. It actually has saved his life playing music.”
In the semi-final Lee performed a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water after Paul Simon approved his use of the song after seeing his first audition.