Surprise! 'AGT' runner-up Detroit Youth Choir to receive $1 million anyway

Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press

"America's Got Talent" runner-up Detroit Youth Choir will get $1 million after all.

Several Detroit-based foundations and local business leaders announced a $1 million endowment for the choir Friday at the group's Detroit homecoming, following their second-place finish during Wednesday's "AGT" season finale.  

"I was watching you guys and you and Kodi Lee are on that stage, and my heart's in my throat," said Mayor Mike Duggan before making the big announcement. "When they announced it was Kodi Lee, I was a little disappointed for a second, but I was like, 'He deserves a million dollars; he was great.' The only thing I thought was unfair was there should've been two first prizes." 

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People take photos of the key to the city given to the Detroit Youth Choir during their homecoming celebration at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit on Friday, September 20, 2019 after they finished second place in

Duggan then worked with Wendy Lewis Jackson, the Detroit Program managing director for the Kresge Foundation and Tonya Allen, president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation, to create the endowment. 

“We are incredibly proud of what the Detroit Youth Choir achieved during their time on 'America’s Got Talent' and we look forward to what’s next for them,” said Allen. "This fund is a way for Detroiters to celebrate and grow the genius of our children."

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The endowment was not the only surprise the choir experienced at the event. Duggan also gave the group a key to the city. In addition, he is giving each member a replica key to the city for their own homes. 

"In your life, you're going to go far and wide, and you're going to accomplish great things," he said. 

The choir was then handed a large plaque featuring pictures of them on "AGT" and a list of all the members' names, with the key at the bottom. 

The group exploded with excitement, with one member shouting, "This is crazy!" as the audience chanted, "DYC!" 

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Choir director Anthony White was at a loss for words after both announcements. 

"This is hard work, sacrifice. I can't even talk," he said. "I appreciate every donor and sponsor. This is amazing." 

Kimberly Jackson was one of the proud choir parents in the crowd, as she wore her purple T-shirt. Her son, Lewis Jackson, is a junior at Cass Tech and only joined the choir in January.

While Jackson could not stay in Los Angeles with Lewis for the entire season, she was able to visit twice. She said seeing DYC on the "AGT" stage was "electrifying and unbelievable." 

"It has been an amazing experience," Jackson said. "DYC is very talented, there are winners for life. This will open a lot of opportunities for them. We're very grateful for the donors." 

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Members of the Detroit Youth Choir celebrate before leaving their homecoming celebration at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit on Friday, September 20, 2019 after they finished second place in

DYC member Jae Abdul said she was glad the choir was able to show off "how strong Detroit is" while being on "AGT." She said host Terry Crews and judges Simon Cowell, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Howie Mandel were all as nice as they appear on TV, even admitting that Cowell is a big hugger. 

"They're so kind and work well with the contestants," Abdul said. 

The 13-year-old Detroit resident has been a part of DYC since she was 10.  Abdul said she always had a passion for singing and dancing, and when the choir made an appearance at her school, she decided to audition. 

"It's feels great to be back in Detroit, to have the support of everyone," she said. 

With shows in Las Vegas alongside other "AGT" finalists and an appearance in the America's Thanksgiving Parade coming up, DYC will be back at rehearsals by Wednesday.

"This is just the beginning," said Abdul.  

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: 'AGT' runner-up Detroit Youth Choir to receive $1M anyway