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Singing Kids, Spoken Word Poets — Every One of Howie Mandel's Golden Buzzers on AGT

Three Acts who earned Mandel's Golden Buzzer have gone on to win America's Got Talent.

By Caitlin Schunn

Howie Mandel is the Judge on America’s Got Talent with the most experience and tenure, and when he hits his Golden Buzzer in Season 18, premiering Tuesday, May 30 at 8/7c on NBC, that might be a sign you’re seeing the future winner of the show.

How to Watch

Watch the Season 19 premiere of America’s Got Talent Tuesday, May 28 at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

Mandel’s had three contestants take home the crown in his 12 seasons as Judge (he was also a Judge for a few seasons of Champions and All-Stars).

What Is The Golden Buzzer?

Although Mandel started on the show in Season 5, the Golden Buzzer wasn’t introduced until Season 10. If a Judge is beyond impressed with an audition, he or she can hit the Golden Buzzer and allow an act to move directly to the Live Shows— despite whatever red buzzers are pressed.

RELATED: The Beautiful Reason Howie Mandel Keeps Doing AGT — Even Though He’s "Jaded"

Usually an act needs at least three “yes” votes from Judges to move forward, so getting the Golden Buzzer is a massive honor.

Here's a look at Mandel's Golden Buzzers through the seasons.

Drew Lynch

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers Drew Lynch

Mandel’s first Golden Buzzer was for funny man Drew Lynch in 2015 (who finished as the runner-up!). The comedian’s journey to overcome a stutter was documented during Season 10, and after the show he built a large YouTube following. He was so popular he came back for America’s Got Talent: The Champions in 2019.

Grace VanderWaal

Howie Mandel and Grace Vanderwaal Hug After Her AGT Win

Mandel hit a home run with his Season 11 Golden Buzzer, as Grace VanderWaal went on to win the show after her audition performing her original song, “I Don’t Know My Name,” went viral. The singer and ukulelist was only 12 when she was declared the victor.

RELATED: Why Howie Mandel Says the AGT Contestants Have More "Vigor" Than Ever

“I would say this is the moment AGT became cool because she was so cool,” Judge Simon Cowell told Host Terry Crews in "Simon’s Favorite Golden Buzzers AGT" episode.

The now 19-year-old released her first album, Just the Beginning, in 2017, and also starred in the Disney+ musical film Stargirl. She’s also teased more upcoming career moves on her Instagram.

Christian Guardino

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers Christian Guardino

Mandel awarded his Golden Buzzer to a formerly blind singer in Season 12. 16-year-old Christian Guardino impressed the audience with a Jackson 5 song during his audition. Mandel even gave the teen a standing ovation during his performance.

He was later eliminated in the SemiFinals.

Courtney Hadwin

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers Courtney Hadwinn

He chose another teenage singer to win his Golden Buzzer in Season 13: Courtney Hadwin, from Durham, England. The 14-year-old made it to the Top 10, and called it “the best experience of her life” while speaking with PEOPLE.

Hadwin performed in Las Vegas as part of Season 13 winner Shin Lim’s magician series  before being cast on America’s Got Talent: The Champions.

Angelica Hale

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers Angelica Hale

Season 12 runner-up Angelica Hale received her second Golden Buzzer during The Champions season from Mandel, after earning her first Golden Buzzer from Chris Hardwick. Hale, whose life was saved by a kidney transplant from her mother, appropriately sang “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.

RELATED: Howie Mandel Is Nearly Unrecognizable In This Epic '70s Throwback Pic

But the 11-year-old singer came up short again and was eliminated in the Finals.

Joseph Allen

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers Joseph Allen

Mandel had quite the memorable moment when awarding Season 14’s Joseph Allen the Golden Buzzer, as he stood on the Judges' table to hit the Golden Buzzer with his foot. The 21-year-old sang and rapped an original song during his audition, and all four Judges gave him a standing ovation.

“You said you want to leave a footprint, so I’m going to give you the footprint you need to leave,” Mandel said as he stomped on the buzzer.

Allen performed another original song in the Quarterfinals but didn’t receive enough votes to move on to the Semifinals.

V. Unbeatable

Americas Got Talent Howie Golden Buzzers V Unbeatable

Mandel hit his Golden Buzzer for another winner during the second season of AGT: The Champions — V. Unbeatable. The India-based acrobatic dance troupe, whose members range from ages 12 to 28, won just before the pandemic hit in 2020. The group placed fourth on AGT in 2019 before they were invited to compete on The Champions spin-off.

Unfortunately, the pandemic and lockdowns put a damper on their success, and the group didn’t have their first international performance until January 2023 in Dubai’s Global Village.

Brandon Leake

Agt Winners Brandon Leake

Mandel struck gold twice — literally — hitting his Golden Buzzer for Season 15’s Brandon Leake and getting a winner back to back. Leake made history as the first-ever spoken word poet to compete and won at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

"I think that you're doing exactly what it is that you want to do, and that is moving people," Mandel said of Leake. "And your words are so poetic, so in the moment. We're not only enjoying your performance, but the message is so clear. And thank you for moving us, and I wish you the best."

Leake didn’t make it the first time he auditioned for AGT in 2017, but tried again, auditioning three years later with a deeply personal poem about his late sister that moved Mandel to hit the Golden Buzzer.

Leake returned for the latest AGT All-Stars in the winter of 2023 but lost out on the last spot in the Final to Kodi Lee.

Northwell Nurse Choir

Northwell Health Nurse Choir Sings a MOVING Cover of "Stand By You" - America's Got Talent 2021

Mandel honored the Northwell Nurse Choir out of New York City with his Golden Buzzer during the pandemic in Season 16. The choir is made up of 18 nurses — front line workers — who are trying to spread hope and resilience during a difficult time. The group was even part of the “Inspiring America” segment of NBC’s Nightly News.

The group made it to the finals, but did not win the season.

Madison Taylor Baez

AGT 2022: A tearful Madison Baez stands onstage as gold confetti rains down around her

Madison Taylor Baez won Mandel’s Season 17 Golden Buzzer in an unusual way—auditioning out of the audience.  

Judge Simon Cowell discovered the 11-year-old singing “Amazing Grace” in the audience, and for the first time in AGT history, invited her on stage to audition. During her impromptu audition, Mandel pushed his buzzer for her, sending her though to the Live Shows.

She was eliminated in the semifinals, but has since starred as child vampire Eleanor on Showtime’s Let The Right One In — all before the age of 12.

Light Balance Kids

Agt All Stars Final Performances Light Balance Kids2

Most recently in the winter of 2023, Mandel gave his Golden Buzzer to a dance group from Ukraine, Light Balance Kids, during an All-Stars season. Since the group first competed on AGT in 2019, their home city of Kyiv, Ukraine came under attack from Russia. They ended up in third place in the All-Stars finale after performing “Wake Me Up” by Avicii with Kodi Lee.

To see who will get Howie Mandel’s next Golden Buzzer, watch America’s Got Talent Season 18 Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and the next day on Peacock.