He beat an opera singer from Houston, a recycled-instrument percussion group from New Hampshire, the Texas Tenors and the singing siblings Voices of Glory. And though his victory was almost upstaged by the American debut of another talent-show phenom, Susan Boyle, singing "chicken catcher" and farmer Kevin Skinner of Mayfield, Kentucky, triumphed on Wednesday to take the top prize on the fourth season of "America's Got Talent."
"I've always loved to perform," a misty-eyed Skinner, 35, said after beating out opera singer Barbara Padilla with his stirring rendition of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" on Monday's performance show.
After winning the $1 million top prize, the unassuming, guitar-strumming Skinner said he was looking forward to his new headlining gig in the "America's Got Talent" variety show in Las Vegas in October, hosted by the show's former host, Jerry Springer. "I want to go out there and give 'em the best show I can," he told current host Nick Cannon.
In an evening that saw the early elimination of breakdancers and tap dancers, singers and a septuagenarian comedian, Skinner's win was almost overshadowed by an early appearance from "Britain's Got Talent" runner-up Boyle in her U.S. TV singing debut. The formerly dowdy spinster turned world phenomenon wowed again with a strong cover of the Rolling Stones' ballad "Wild Horses," expected to be the first single from her upcoming debut album, I Dreamed a Dream, due out in November.
The show also featured performances from Shakira, Rascal Flatts, Leona Lewis and the cast of the new Cirque du Soleil vaudeville-style review, "Banana Shpeel."