America’s Got Talent has crowned a new winner! Mat Franco became the first magician to ever win the competition on Wednesday night. He’s earned $1 million and a show in Las Vegas, and he talked to OKMagazine.com just hours after his big confetti moment to share, well, how freakin’ exhausted he was!
OK!: First, and most important, have you slept since last night?
Mat Franco: The answer is a big, fat no. Not since Nick Cannon said my name, and I can’t even turn my brain off. I’m still trying to process all of this.
OK!: Are you delirious at this point?
MF: I am 100% delirious. You are right on the money.
OK!: What’s the coolest phone call you’ve gotten in the last couple of hours?
MF: I got this phone call from OKMagazine.com. It’s the coolest one I’ve had in weeks, at least. No, I’ve been doing press all day. I was on the Today Show, on Live with Kelly and Michael. But I haven’t done much chatting on the phone until now, with you!
OK!: What’s the first big purchase you want to make with your $1 million check?
MF: Do you have any guesses?
OK!: A car, maybe?
MF: I’d like to be considerate with it. At least that’s what I tell myself! First order of business would be a vacation. We’re being whisked away to the Las Vegas show very very soon. So I can’t tell you when it will be. I’m due for a little time off, and it’ll be awesome.
OK!: Is there anything you’ll miss about the show? The people, the schedule, the fans?
MF: The only thing I won’t miss is the schedule! I will miss everything about the show. The schedule isn’t easy but I can’t complain because it’s a lot easier than some of the things I could be doing. Everything about it, the support team at AGT—being around not just the other contestants, who are amazing, but the staff. They have so many passionate people, and everyone has the same end goal. It’s an honor to be a part of that. I can relate to it. I have devoted my life to magic tricks. It’s not exactly a conventional path. And I’ll be working with a special effects designer, and will go to his warehouse, and I’ll know immediately that I’m in the presence of a genius. How do you go from being a pyromaniac as a kid to becoming a special effects designer? I love being around people who have that kind of drive. It’s like eh, screw the normal path. This is my passion, and I’m going to follow it.
OK!: Speaking of childhood, what’s the first trick you ever mastered?
MF: The furthest back I can remember is kindergarten, doing magic in show and tell. I vanished a ball. I had a magic wand that I made shrink. All that basic magic kid stuff, which you still see in magic kits today.
OK!: How did you figure out what your voice and personality would be as a magician? Because that is what made you stand out in the competition.
MF: That means a bunch to me. Thank you for saying that. It’s something you learn over time. I don’t want to say it’s a work in progress, but it’s something you learn about yourself. I never created a character. Me on stage is a more energetic version of myself. The older you get, the more comfortable you feel in your own skin. I try to be casual and relatable. Magic is about connecting with people. So instead of creating a mystical character or a goofy character, I try to be me.
OK!: Which magician do you look up to the most?
MF: They are too many to name, and many you wouldn’t have heard of. In terms of the big names, all of them have inspired me in one way or another. Penn and Teller, David Copperfield, David Blaine, they are all guys I grew up watching, and heavily influenced my youth, and still do.
OK!: Where would you love to be 10 years from now?
MF: If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would never have said winning America’s Got Talent. I never would have thought this was a possibility. I never would have imagined I’d be here now, so I like to think that whatever is 10 years from now, I hope those accomplishments are outside the realm of my imagination as well.
OK!: Is there anything we wouldn’t guess about the judges?
MF: I think what you see if what you get. If you watch the show, you really do get a sense of their personalities. They’re down to earth, and great to chat with. I wish I had some dirty tidbits for you!
OK!: Was there one that intimidated you the most?
MF: Yeah, and it was subtle, it might have been my imagination. But every time I performed, I always felt like Heidi [Klum] was the most skeptical, of magic acts in general. She would have the hawk eyes, really paying close attention, trying to figure it out. Which, to me, is the wrong way to approach watching magic. That’s like watching a movie and trying to figure out the special effects work. I try to keep it light, keep it fun, and not turn on people’s analytical mind. People misunderstand magic and see it as a challenge. They see it as a puzzle they want to figure out. If you’re watching magic, just try to suspend your beliefs and have some fun.
Did you watch the finale of America’s Got Talent? Are you surprised a magician won? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.