America's Got Talent Winner Kenichi Ebina Is "One of a Kind," Says Howard Stern
America has spoken. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Kenichi Ebina was crowned the champion of America's Got Talent's eighth season, beating out five other finalists to take home the $1 million prize and an opportunity to headline a show in Las Vegas.
"It's amazing," Ebina said following his win. "I want to thank my wife and my daughter [for] being supportive all the way through and all the fans that support us."
Ebina, 38, wowed the audience with his unique blend of pop-and-lock, mime, jazz, and contemporary and tradition Japanese dance, and his consistency throughout the season made him a bonafide star in judge Howard Stern's eyes.
"You know, every time someone was eliminated tonight, it was really kind of shocking, because these are really talented people," Stern told Us Weekly of the finale, held at NYC's Radio City Music Hall. "They all gave it their all, but Kenichi is one of a kind and I said, 'Let's find a super star,' and I think we did."
Ebina's fellow finalists included singer Cami Bradley, 25; 16-year-old magician Collins Key; comedian Taylor Williamson, 26; opera trio Forte; and marine veteran and coal miner singer Jimmy Rose, 32.
"I really do think Kenichi really deserves to win," Stern had told SiriusXM's AGT All Access in the hours leading up to the big reveal. "I think the guy is an incredible talent, and for two reasons he deserves to win."
"Number one, he was great all season," he explained. "And number two, he creates [his own material] ..with singers who sing other people's songs, half of the challenge is over."
According to his website, Ebina is a completely self-taught performer who got his first big break after a dance troupe he founded, BiTriP, took home the first place prize at the 2001 "Amateur Night" at NYC's Apollo Theater.
He has since performed all over the globe, taking part in competitions as diverse as Los Angeles' Kollaboration season 9, Singapore's Best Dance Crew, and the F-1 Monaco Grand Prix 2011 in Monte Carlo. Ebina has also performed for numerous A-list celebrities, including Madonna and Simon Cowell, and spoke as part of the TED series in 2007.