The golden buzzer is a concept that was introduced in Season 9 of America's Got Talent. Each judge may press it only once during the season. In Season 9, the Golden Buzzer sent the act to the next round regardless of the other judges' votes; its main purpose was to break ties. In Season 10, the Golden Buzzer was upgraded to send an act straight to the live shows.
Season 9 featured the debut of the golden buzzers. Howard Stern used his on Dustin's Dojo, and Howie Mandel used his on Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson. Neither act progressed to the Quarterfinals. It is unknown if Heidi Klum and Mel B used their golden buzzers.
Both Dustin's Dojo and Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson were eliminated during Judgment Week.
Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson
In Season 10, the golden buzzer format was changed so that acts who receive the buzzer are now given a spot in the Quarterfinals. Howie Mandel was first shown pressing it for Drew Lynch, a comedian with a speech impediment, Howard Stern used his for Freckled Sky, a dance duo, Mel B used hers for Sharon Irving, a singer, and Heidi Klum gave the buzzer to young Opera singer, Arielle Baril.
The guest judges for the series were also allowed to use the Golden Buzzer during the Judge Cuts. Neil Patrick Harris was the first to use his for comedy magician Piff the Magic Dragon. Michael Bublé was the second, using his golden buzzer on vocal duo The CraigLewis Band. Marlon Wayans was next, pressing his for ventriloquist Paul Zerdin. Piers Morgan was the last guest judge, and he used his golden buzzer for dance group Siro-A.
Freckled Sky was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Arielle Baril, Siro-A, and Sharon Irving were all eliminated in the Semifinals. Piff the Magic Dragon missed out on the Top 5 in the Finals, while The CraigLewis Band and Drew Lynch finished in 5th and 2nd place respectively. Paul Zerdin was the season's winner.
Piff the Magic Dragon
Neil Patrick Harris
The CraigLewis Band
Mel B was the first to press the golden buzzer this season, for 13-year-old opera singer Laura Bretan. Howie Mandel was the second to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for 12-year-old singer/ukulelist, Grace VanderWaal. Heidi Klum then pressed the golden buzzer for 20-year-old jazz singer Sal Valentinetti. Simon Cowell was the final judge to press the golden buzzer, for 16-year-old singer Calysta Bevier. For the first time on the show, Nick Cannon had his own opportunity to press the golden buzzer; he did so for 90-year-old striptease dancer Dorothy Williams.
In the Judge Cuts, Ne-Yo was the first guest judge to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for magician Jon Dorenbos. Reba McEntire used her golden buzzer on 14-year-old gymnast/contortionist Sofie Dossi. George Lopez used his golden buzzer on malambo group Malevo. Finally, Louis Tomlinson used the golden buzzer for 14-year-old singer Jayna Brown.
Dorothy Williams was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Malevo, Calysta Bevier, and Jayna Brown were eliminated in the Semifinals. Sofie Dossi and Laura Bretan missed out on the Top 5, while Sal Valentinetti and Jon Dorenbos finished in 5th and 3rd place respectively. Grace VanderWaal was the season's winner.
Season 12's format is identical to that of Season 11.
Mel B was the first to press the golden buzzer this season, for 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne. Simon Cowell pressed his buzzer next, for 29-year-old deaf singer Mandy Harvey. Howie Mandel pressed the button for 16-year-old singer Christian Guardino. Tyra Banks pressed the button for a Ukrainian light-up dance group, Light Balance, the only non-singing act among all the Golden Buzzers. Heidi Klum pressed her button for 13-year-old singer Angelina Green.
In the Judge Cuts, Chris Hardwick was the first guest judge to use the golden buzzer, pressing it for 9-year-old singer Angelica Hale. Next, DJ Khaled pressed his golden buzzer for 21-year-old singer-songwriter/guitarist Chase Goehring. Laverne Cox pressed her button for 9-year-old singer Celine Tam. Seal pressed the final golden buzzer of the season for 32-year-old singer Johnny Manuel.
Angelina Green was the only Golden Buzzer act this season eliminated in the Quarterfinals. Johnny Manuel, Christian Guardino, and Celine Tam were eliminated in the Semifinals. Chase Goehring missed out on the Top 5. Mandy Harvey finished in 4th place, Light Balance in 3rd, and Angelica Hale came in 2nd. Darci Lynne was the season's winner.
Darci Lynne Farmer
- Since the upgraded format was introduced in Season 10, all three winners, Paul Zerdin, Grace VanderWaal, and Darci Lynne had received golden buzzers.
- Seven out of eight of the Season 10 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Four reached the Finals.
- Eight out of the nine Season 11 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Five reached the Finals.
- Eight out of the nine Season 12 golden buzzer acts reached the Semifinals. Five reached the Finals.
- Starting in Season 11, the host of the show could use the golden buzzer on an act.