Christian magician Dustin Tavella, who was proclaimed the winner of NBC's hit series "America’s Got Talent" earlier this week, became a fan favorite for his storytelling and sharing the many ways God has moved in his life.
As part of his final performance ahead of the 16th season finale of the talent competition, Tavella asked members of the audience to write down one way they could make a positive change in someone's life and encouraged them to stick to their plan to carry out that act of generosity. With 2,000 people in the audience and numerous others watching from home, he said potentially millions of lives could be impacted by each person's commitment to give boldly.
Following the announcement of his big win Wednesday night, where he was awarded $1 million and the opportunity to perform his own show in Las Vegas, Nevada, Tavella told "Entertainment Tonight" that he was experiencing a whirlwind of emotions.
“This has been the strangest thing to process. … This is what I was hoping for; this is what I was praying for. … It’s like you feel everything in you, every emotion you’ve ever felt is like flooding at the same time. But it’s insane, man.
“Literally, I’m a 9-year-old boy dreaming of chasing the things that I love, falling in love with magic. And here I am years later ... standing on the stage and hearing my name called [as] the winner of the show, it's crazy. It’s more than I could have ever asked for or dreamed of."
Tavella won the competition in what was reportedly the closest vote in the show's 16-year history. Coming in second place was aerialist Aidan Bryant.
In an interview with YouTube personality Ruslan KD, back in July, the master of slight-of-hand tricks spoke about his faith and explained that his craft is not black magic, witchery or occult practices.
"I don't have powers," he said. "This is just me trying to have fun and kind of create wonder for people."
Tavella described his talent as "cultivating mystery and wonder through sneakiness."
During each of his performances on "America's Got Talent," Tavella talked about the significance of family, not taking people for granted, and showing how, despite the messiness and chaos of life, God's plan comes through in perfect order (see here,here and here).
"When I get to celebrate the principles of God, when I get to celebrate the things that God's done in our lives, … that, to me, is the main thing that we want to do," Tavella told Ruslan KD, "[It is to] continue to be intentional with every story we get to tell in every bit of airtime."
Tavella and his wife, Kari, are the parents of two adopted brothers and participate in ministries that aid the homeless and assist a pregnancy center.
"We just want to help empower people, and we want to be a bridge between the church and the not-church — to get the people not in church into the church, and to get the people in the church, outside of the walls," he said.
"Long before 'America's Got Talent,' Dustin has had a heart for those less fortunate," said Jordan Greiner, relationship manager at the child sponsorship organization Compassion International in a statement.
"You can see that reflected in his own family and in his history serving the homeless in Los Angeles," he added. "That heart carries over to children all over the world living in extreme poverty. We want to congratulate Dustin [in his] victory, and we are so grateful to come alongside him to release children from poverty in Jesus' name."