crowned its Season 16 winner during the finale Wednesday night and, after what host Terry Crews called "the closest vote in the show's history," it all came down to 16-year-old aerialist Aidan Bryant and 35-year-old magician Dustin Tavella… and it was the latter who took home the million dollar prize and a headlining show in Las Vegas.
Tavella, who has been known all season long for his storytelling abilities, initially touched America's hearts by sharing his dedication to his wife and their two adopted sons. However, since that first audition, viewers seemed to think that story got a little old, so when Tavella won Wednesday night, they were pretty disappointed. Viewers thought he was more of a "storyteller" or a motivational speaker rather than an act with actual talent, and pointed out that his magic performances were nothing compared to former magicians.
It seemed the studio audience for Wednesday’s finale was also divided. When Crews announced that judge Heidi Klum’s Golden Buzzer pick, quick-change artist Lea Kyle, had finished in fifth place, there was a rumbling of boos in the venue, which only grew louder when Brooke Simpson, who looked positively crushed, came in fourth. The live audience’s booing escalated even more when Josh Blue placed third and, finally, when Bryant stalled in second.
On the other hand, not everyone was a hater. There were some viewers who were happy for Tavella, and still think his story is truly empowering.