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Why ‘America’s Got Talent’s’ $1 Million Prize is Not Enough

Americas Got Talent

America’s Got Talent | NBC

The world’s biggest talent show is back and many people have turned out to show off what they can do. Contortionists, comedians, singers, and more are doing their best in order to be the last person standing. Yet again $1 million dollars is on the line, but is it enough?

We previously looked into whether the show actually pays its contestants for being on the show. We also touched on the grand prize and the fine print that comes with it. If you happen to win America’s Got Talent your life won’t change overnight like it would if you won the lottery. The outcome largely depends on which payment option you choose.

The first payment option is taking a lump sum of money home right away. That may sound like the obvious option, however if you do it, you won’t take the full million home. Instead you get the cash value of financial annuity. That tends to come out to $450,426 according to Movie Pilot. That’s not bad but it’s also not $1 million dollars.

Then there is the second option. By choosing this option you get the full amount, but over a long period of time and through multiple payments. For example, winner Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. is being paid $25,000 before taxes every year. After 40 years he will finally have all of his prize money, but might not ever be a millionaire.

So given the payment reality versus what’s said on the show you have to wonder if America’s Got Talent‘s prize is enough? Our answer is no, and here are three reasons why.

1. It doesn’t account for a contestant’s age

America's Got Talent

America’s Got Talent | Source: NBC

The great thing about the show is that there isn’t an age cap so we get to watch older talented contestants. For example there is Dorothy Williams who is 90 and won over everyone through her dance moves. She was able to move forward to the live shows when Nick Cannon hitting the golden buzzer.

“When I get on that stage,” the dancer said after her first audition, “I want to prove that you’re never too old to follow your dreams.”

We also have John Hetlinger who retired from a career in aerospace engineering and is 82. He shocked the audience and judges by performing Drowning Pool’s “Bodies.” The scientist showed that people can rock at any age and moved on in the competition.

Drowning Pool has been very supportive of the contestant by posting his story on their Facebook page. They also got to meet him in person and had him perform with them on stage. This is of course wonderful news for Hetlinger, but it’s also unpaid press for the show.

Having unique contestants on America’s Got Talent definitely helps because they provide the show and audience with feel good stories. They are all about showing that anything is possible at any age. It also leads to a lot of articles about the most “shocking” audition because these contestants go against expectations. However, if either of these contestants win, there is no chance of them getting the full million. Instead they would have to take the lump sum, which is less than half of what is promised. Is it ethical that this process is ageist?

Chances are the creators of the show don’t intend for this process to be inherently against a certain age group. But in the end, the show get a large amount of viewers for their performances, but the contestants wouldn’t get as much money as their fellow contenders for simply being older.

2. Many are putting their life on the line for the show

America's Got Talent

America’s Got Talent | Source: NBC

We have had some very dangerous acts put it all out there in the quest for fame. That includes knife throwers, daredevils, and tightrope walkers. These acts are already dangerous, but the show has also been honest that things don’t always go as planned.

This year we saw married couple Alfredo and Anna Silva do their dangerous knife throwing act called “Deadly Games.” As Anna poses in front of a board, her husband throws sharp objects at her. Sometimes those objects have also been on fire. Other times she is strapped to a spinning board while objects are hurled at her.

Thankfully, both have walked away from all of their performances perfectly fine. However, there was one audition caught on camera where the board fell on Anna. This is a very real and dangerous act. Taking that into account, they should be paid for the risk they are taking. Especially since after every single audition the judges encourage them to increase the risk in order prove themselves.

Of course it is their choice to do these dangerous acts, but the show is profiting off of them doing so. It would only be fair that after risking their lives they would be paid the prize money they were promised should they win. Especially since other people who are doing far less, are getting paid a lot more simply because they’re famous.

3. The judges and the host get all the dough

America's Got Talent

America’s Got Talent | Source: NBC

The judges on America’s Got Talent are great. Simon always brings the tension because he’s such a tough critic. He’s also been known to make or break people’s careers so everyone wants to know what he has to say. Since he’s also the creator of the show it makes since that he would take home a fairly large paycheck. However, the other judges don’t carry the same weight.

The judges pretty much have to show up to shoot the show and just have fun. They give their opinions and make a few cuts. Later on, they don’t even have do that and can just sit back and let America vote on the remaining contestants.

However, Howie Mandel reportedly makes $70,000 per episode. That’s $1,190,000 for 17 episodes of sitting down, cracking jokes, and giving perhaps a few bits of constructive criticism! The judges aren’t the only ones seeing a good chunk of the money.

Nick Cannon, who hosts the show, isn’t doing too shabby either. He actually might have a tougher job because he has to interview contestants, do a lot of announcing, and try to be entertaining in between acts. So what is all of this worth? Nick also reportedly makes $70,000 per episode. That is another million dollars going to someone other than the winner.

Perhaps it would be wise for some cuts to be made in order for the show to be more ethical towards its contestants. But will things ever change? We’ll have to wait and see!

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