by MIKE CHAIKEN
All Mat Franco was hoping to do was gain some name recognition for his career.
He got that name recognition… and a whole lot more, when he won “America’s Got Talent” in the 2014-15 season.
Franco brings his magic act to Connecticut in December when he plays Foxwoods Resort Casino. Tickets went on sale this month.
In a phone call from Las Vegas, where the magician has set up a performance residency, Franco said, his goal was pretty modest when he initially auditioned for “America’s Got Talent.”
He hoped he would audition and get on the show for at least one round of the competition. Even if he did poorly before the judges, Franco said he knew he would be able to put in his publicity, “As seen on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”
Franco did make it past the auditions with his magic act, which sprinkles in humor as well as improvisation. To his surprise, he also made it beyond the first round. And kept going and going and going.
The competitors were disappearing each week but Franco was still in the running.
Initially, Franco was feeling casual about his appearances on “America’s Next Talent.” After all, he surpassed his goal of just making the initial cut.
But as it turned out, as the weeks went on, he said he began to become more and more competitive.
He wanted to keep moving forward.
Then what was initially unconsidered and unthinkable happened to Franco.
He won that season of “America’s Next Talent.”
“Even now, I guess we’re going on my three year anniversary, it’s pretty surreal,” said the Rhode Island native.
“It’s tough to put into words what’s going on in your mind at that time,” said Franco.
You’re standing on stage, he said. Your family and friends are in the audience or watching at home. Also there are millions of other people watching their televisions at home, he said.
Then when your name is called, he said, “You don’t feel it’s actually happening.”
“It’s really wild,” said Franco. And it’s a moment he’s still riding that wave as he makes plans to perform at Foxwoods – a stone’s throw from where he grew up in Rhode Island.
Magician Mat Franco, the winner of “America’s Got Talent,” performs at the Fox Theater, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.
For more information, go to Foxwoods.com or www.MatFranco.com