America's Got Talent winner Grace Vanderwaal shares plans for prize
Grace Vanderwaal knows exactly what she’s going to do with her $1 million for winning America’s Got Talent Wednesday night.
And like most things about the incredible singer-songwriter, her choice is wise beyond her 12 years.
She wants to give to charity – probably a music charity, she told PEOPLE after her emotional victory.
But – almost to remind everyone that she is still just 12 – she added, “but I want to go on Treehouse Masters and I want to get a treehouse.”
Judge Howie Mandel, who saw Vanderwaal’s potential immediately and used his “golden buzzer” choice on the singer-songwriter, raved about the winner.
“The most amazing thing about Grace is that you haven’t heard anybody who sounds like her,” he says. “You haven’t heard any lyrics from somebody that is like her, and we’ve been saying to her, you are the most unique, brightest star to come out of one of these shows.”
While Vanderwaal has previously been compared to Taylor Swift, a compliment Vanderwaal calls “truly amazing,” Simon Cowell said the young entertainer reminded him of his very first American reality show winners.
The announcement that Vanderwaal took the show’s top prize took the infamously snarky judge back to a moment 14 years ago – before Vanderwall was even born.
“That moment at the end, it reminded me of the Kelly Clarkson moment. You know, when they said, ‘And the winner is Kelly Clarkson,’ ” Cowell says. “I kind of had that same feeling again when they read her name out, and I saw her reaction and she was literally in pieces. I like that though.”
Other judges had similar sentiments about the young winner, with Heidi Klum predicting Vanderwaal will change the industry.
The model says, “There’s only so few people that pop up now and then that can really make a difference, and she will make a difference in music 100 percent.”
Mel B. also knew early on that Vanderwaal was a huge contender.
“I remember the first time I saw Grace, we all said that is a superstar,” she says. “So I’m glad she got it.”
Host Nick Cannon used the same word to describe Vanderwaal: superstar.
“I’m not going to say I called it, but I’ve been saying that young girl is a superstar since the moment that I met her,” he says. “Her energy. Her vibration. Her light is so real now the world is about to see even more.”
During the finale, Vanderwaal performed her viral audition song “I Don’t Know My Name” as well as her original tune “Clay.”
The whirlwind experience and win hasn’t even hit the singer yet.
“It kind of takes a while to set in, but it’s really unbelievable,” she says. “I feel like, I don’t feel, I am living my dream.”
America's Got Talent