“America’s Got Talent‘s” most controversial contestant of the season, Tim Poe, was eliminated on Tuesday’s episode — but not because of the scandal. Poe’s elimination was filmed over a month ago, before the public discovered that he may not have been truthful about his past.
In the video package that played before Poe’s initial audition on the show, he told producers that he was a military officer, and had suffered brain damage after a grenade attack in Afghanistan. He provided “America’s Got Talent” with a photo — that he claimed was of him — in uniform. Later, it turned out that the photo was actually of Staff Sgt. Norman Bone, and that it had been taken from the Department of Defense website (where it was identified as Bone, not Poe).
Adding to the controversy, the Minnesota National Guard released a statement. “Sgt. Poe’s official military records do not indicate that he was
injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as
he reports,” they said.
Judge Howie Mandel admitted to Zap2it that Poe’s story helped him progress in the competition. “The truth is, especially at this time in our lives, in this country, I
am so thankful for anybody, in any service, for whatever they are doing,
and wherever they are stationed. And when he showed up with this story
that he never sang before and the stuttering was part of a brain injury,
he captured the hearts and minds and ears of all of America. It
certainly helped him in this competition,” he said. When it was revealed that Poe wasn’t being truthful, Mandel said that he “deserves to be publicly humiliated.”
The judges’ decisions tonight — to not include Poe in the top 48 to move forward with the competition — was based on his talent and his performance, not on his backstory. Or, as the case may be, lack thereof.