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NBC Insider America's Got Talent

The Amazing Connection Between Howie Mandel & the Act Phil Wright and Parent Jam

The AGT Judge reconnected with a former TV connection, proving it truly is a small world.

By Cydney Contreras

Whoever said hanging out with your parents isn't cool hasn't seen Parent Jam.

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The dance group Parent Jam auditioned for America's Got Talent, proving to kids watching from home that spending time with your mom and dad can be a ton of fun. And for parents, it showed that "no matter what profession you do, there's always time for family," choreographer Phil Wright explained.

"We need that. We really need that. All of us need that," Judge Simon Cowell replied, commending the group.

What is Parent Jam?

Phil Wright and Parent Jam perform on the America's Got Talent Stage

"The Parent Jam started in a very small hip-hop studio in Los Angeles," Wright told the audience. "It's a collection of parents and kids dancing with one another."

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For the performance, the kids and parents wore matching ensembles as they danced to "Sax" by Fleur East. While there were a handful of duos, a father and three sons showed off their breakdancing skills in a scene-stealing moment.

How does Howie Mandel know Phil Wright and Parent Jam from Deal or No Deal? 

During the group's introduction, Howie Mandel paused to tell Simon Cowell that he actually knows one of the parents in the group. 

"Simon, can I say something real quick? So I recognize the blonde lady in the back. I did a show before this called Deal or No Deal. That lady right there won a quarter of a million dollars, so she's here to try to get a million again," Mandel shared as Kristine LeMieux waved from the back.

Kristine LeMieux on Deal or No Deal

LeMieux appeared on Season 3, Episode 45 of Deal or No Deal in 2008, competing against contestant Jay Hughes in a Winner-Take-All version of the game. 

In the episode, the contestants played their own respective games, eliminating briefcases one by one. The player who negotiated the best deal with the "banker" got to take home their earnings, as well as the other contestant's. 

LeMieux negotiated with the banker to take home $121,000, while Hughes accepted a $117,000 offer. In the end, she took home both deals, making her $138,000 richer.

Phil Wright and Parent Jam perform on the America's Got Talent Stage

At the time, LeMieux was 24 years old and attending college full-time. Her goal, she told Mandel, was to win enough money to pay for her engagement ring to then-boyfriend Dave, who had been slowly but surely making $50 payments on the rock. 

"That's why I'm here, Howie. To finally get that ring on my finger," she shared. "[I want] to get married, have my own kids. That's what I want."

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Fast forward almost 15 years later and LeMieux is dancing alongside daughter Penelope Ann on the America's Got Talent stage.

How did the Judges vote for Parent Jam?

Though Judges Sofia Vergara and Heidi Klum were initially confused by the performance, they ended up loving the high-energy dance number. 

"It's cute that they're all together with their families," Klum gushed.

But Mandel wasn't feeling it, telling Cowell, "This is fun. It's sweet. It's family. I don't think it's big enough or excellent enough to win $1,000,000."

When Cowell raised his eyebrows and the crowd began booing, Mandel added, "That's just my opinion!"

Klum, Vergara, and Cowell were into the Act though. While Klum loved the flips and breakdancing, Vergara was impressed by how talented the kids were.

But what sealed the deal for Cowell was the group's diverse makeup and family values. He said, "I think this idea is genius. It was one of those auditions that just makes you feel great. .. For me, this is what this show is all about."