“I mean, I was shocked, kind of, how much people were booing,” Klum, 50, exclusively told Us Weekly after the NBC series’ season finale on Wednesday, September 27. “I’ve been sitting there for many years and I had not really heard anyone boo that loud before in a finale when someone didn’t make it. But I guess people felt very strong. So that was, like, a first.”
After weeks of tough competition, Adrian Stoica and his dog, Hurricane, were named season 18 champions Wednesday night after landing in the top two alongside magician Anna DeGuzman.
The season previously featured nine other acts, including comedian Ahren Belisle, singers Lavender Darcangelo and Putri Ariani, the dance groups Chibi Unity, Murmuration and Avantgardey, the acrobatic duo Ramadhani Brothers and the singing groups the 82nd Airborne Chorus and the Mzansi Youth Choir.
Host Terry Crews was delighted by the final result, telling Us, “They’re talented and America loves talent and this is what this show is about.” However, he and judge Simon Cowell both found it “shocking” that 17-year-old singer Ariani did not earn a spot in the final two.
“I thought for sure it was going to be between her and someone else,” Crews, 55, shared. “It reminded me a couple of years back when V. Unbeatable left a little early and I was like, ‘Whoa, believe me, I’m reading a card,’ and I’m going, I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, I got to say the name.’ But I’m like, I’m shocked. But this is the thing. I don’t get to call it. This is America’s call and it’s what we live with, what we do, but I think they get it right.”
Another person thrilled by Stoica and Hurricane’s victory was Cowell’s 9-year-old son, Eric. “I watched him and his friend’s reaction when the name was called out and they jumped out [of] their chairs,” Cowell, 63, told Us. “But he loves dogs and he met Hurricane during the audition and they had this little bond.”
He continued: “I thought it was one of the better finals we’ve done because there wasn’t one person where I thought, ‘I’m going to be disappointed if you win.’ It was just like everyone did as good as you could do. And I said to someone earlier on the level of talent we’re seeing over the years, the creativity, it’s brilliant to watch. So, I was overall happy last night and I’m still happy now.”
As the show’s most intimidating judge, Cowell is used to getting strong reactions from the audience. However, he enjoyed watching Mandel, 67, catch some flack for his opinions this season.
“He deserves it at times,” Cowell shared. “I could have killed him last night when he said something to my Golden Buzzer along the lines of, ‘Well, if it was just a singing competition, you’d win, but it’s not.’ And it’s like, ‘You know what? Shut up. I just don’t want your opinion right now.’ However, we are very competitive. And the good thing about how he is, if that’s how he feels, he’s expressing it. And it is quite nice [to have] someone else getting booed for a while.”
With reporting by Kat Pettibone