Nick Cannon is parting ways with America’s Got Talent. In a lengthy Facebook post on Monday, February 13, the star said he plans to step down as host of the NBC competition show after the network allegedly threatened to fire him over a controversial joke on his recent comedy special. See a clip from the special above.
Cannon, 36, who has hosted America’s Got Talent since season 4 aired in 2009, wrote on Facebook that he is “being threatened with termination” by NBC over a “joke about my own race” from his Showtime special, “Stand Up, Don’t Shoot,” which aired on Friday, February 10. AGT begins production later this month on season 12, and the rest of the on-air team — including judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel — are all set to return.
“I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist and a voice for my community, I will not be silenced, controlled, or treated like a piece of property,” Cannon wrote. “Not to get too detailed but this isn’t the first time executives have attempted to ‘put me in my place’ for so called unruly actions. I will not stand for it. My moral principles will easily walk away from the millions of dollars they hang over my head.”
He went on to say that it “hurts tremendously” for him to face leaving the talent series, adding, “Maybe it was my mistake for signing the contract in the first place, in which I will take full responsibility and have already taken action to restructure my own team of advisors. I now have to set out on a journey of freedom as an artist. As I was quoted in a recent interview, ‘You can’t fire a Boss!’ and that is the essence that I possess.”
“So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season but I can not see myself returning. As of lately I have even questioned if I want to even be [a part] of an industry who ultimately treats artists in this manner,” the Drumline star continued. “I love art and entertainment too much to watch it be ruined by controlling corporations and big business. I believe It’s our duty as artists to make a difference and create change even if it’s one act at a time.”
His special includes a spate of racially charged material, including Cannon joking, “I honestly believe, once I started doing America’s Got Talent, they took my real n—er card. They did! Because then, like, these type of people started showing up to my shows [gesturing to several older white audience members].”
He also commented in the special about the difference between the language he was using for those jokes and the language he uses on NBC: “That’s what NBC is gonna stand for tonight: N—ers Better Come on, ’cause N—ers Be Cussin’, so N—ers Be Careful.”
Cannon was a guest on Howard Stern‘s radio show on Wednesday, February 8, and acknowledged that NBC had concerns over a joke in the special. “If they fire me … then I can sue them — then I can create a whole controversy: ‘NBC hates black people,'” he said. (He is also scheduled to appear on Amazon’s Style Code Live Thursday, February 16, at 8:50 p.m. ET.)
NBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.