"Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world"
On Thursday blind Autistic Korean American singer Kodi Lee won this year’s America’s Got Talent.
Lee knocked out finalists including the Detroit Youth Choir, comedian Ryan Niemiller and acrobatic dance group V, Lee to win this year’s competition.
The 22-year-old is legally blind and was diagnosed with autism at the age of four.
“Through music and performing, he was able to withstand living in this world,” Lee’s mother said. “Because when you’re autistic, it’s really hard to do what everyone else does. It actually has saved his life, playing music.”
Lee was a favorite in the competition since his audition cover of Donny Hathaway’s ‘A Song For You’.
“Thank you so much for all the votes!!!! I can’t believe I’m the winner of #agt !!! I felt your love and support all season and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!!!!” he wrote on Instagram after winning the award.
When asked what he would do with the $1 million prize money, Lee reportedly said he wanted to “buy lots of grand pianos in every colour.”
However, Deseret reports that Lee won’t actually receive the $1 million prize money, well, at least right away.
Whilst America’s Got Talent does offer a $1 million prize for its winner, the prize is paid in annuity. “The prize, which totals $1,000,000, is payable in a financial annuity over 40 years, or the contestant may choose to receive the present cash value of such annuity,” Deseret reports.
Lee will instead receive $25,000 over 40 years before taxes. Contestants are offered a cash lump sum of roughly $300,000 according to Forbes, instead in lieu of the annuity payments.
Nonetheless, whatever the reward, Lee’s mother said her son will be happy as long as he has his music. “As long as Kodi is playing music, recording music, and performing live, he is in his happy place,” she said.