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The judges on America’s Got Talent have come under considerable controversy in the past. However, AGT, the reality competition show in its 15th season, remains one of the most popular series on its network. The NBC show’s judges — currently, Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Sofia Vergara — are catapulting many no-name acts to celebrity status on this season of America’s Got Talent. However, Klum’s response to a recent contestant’s dance audition caused a firestorm of criticism on Twitter.

Heidi Klum America's Got Talent
Heidi Klum attends the America’s Got Talent Season 15 Kickoff | Tibrina Hobson/WireImage

‘America’s Got Talent’ Season 15 contestant Amanda LaCount divides judges

Amanda LaCount is a nineteen-year-old professional dancer who has appeared in music videos for huge pop artists like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. With over 200,000 followers on Instagram, the up-and-coming entertainer is making waves on the internet — especially when it comes to body positivity. LaCount is the creator of a campaign titled #breakingthestereotype, through which she attempts to inspire other plus-size dancers.

America’s Got Talent recently aired her audition, which sparked controversy among fans of the show.

Before she started dancing, LaCount explained to the AGT judges that many people had told her she was “too big to dance.” Cowell replied that she should tell them to “shut up.” She also recalled being bullied for her weight her whole life. However, LaCount thanked her mom for always encouraging her to follow her dreams.

LaCount’s dance performance on a June 2020 episode of ‘AGT’ inspired Simon Cowell and many fans — but not Heidi Klum

LaCount’s dance performance on AGT to “Nails Hair Hips Heels” by Todrick Hall showed off the dancer’s sass, personality, and technique. However, Klum didn’t seem to agree; she hit the buzzer on LaCount halfway into her routine. The other three judges — and the audience — disagreed, giving the dancer a standing ovation.

Cowell, known for his harsh comments on American Idol, took a new tune with LaCount, gushing that he “loved every minute of the audition.” Cowell continued:

Your joy and enthusiasm is so contagious. Look, this is why we have our different people one panel. We all have honestly, different opinions. I’m going to remember you. And I’d like to see where you could progress.

Many America’s Got Talent fans were proud of Cowell for lifting up LaCount’s story.

Vergara also gave the dancer a whole-hearted yes. However, Klum stuck to her opinion.

Klum told LaCount: “I also think you’re a great dancer; I also love your spirit, your vibe, your energy.” She said the audition got her “bumping” in her seat. But, it wasn’t enough for the former model.

“I just don’t think it’s a million-dollar act,” Klum said, while the audience booed.

While the other America’s Got Talent judges didn’t buzz the dancer, when it came to the vote, Mandel initially said “no” to LaCount moving on. Defending his decision by saying he didn’t believe she could carry a whole show, the in-studio audience clamored enough on LaCount’s behalf that Mandel changed his mind.

“I don’t know that it could win the show,” the judge expressed. Meanwhile, the crowd behind him chanted, “yes!”

“Okay, I’m gonna listen to them and not to myself,” Mandel told LaCount. “I’m giving you their yes.”

‘America’s Got Talent’ judge Heidi Klum is under fire for fat-shaming dance contestant

The Twitterverse was set ablaze with angry comments about Klum after the America’s Got Talent episode aired.

One tweeter argued of Klum’s reaction to LaCount’s AGT act:

… you should be ashamed of yourself that you would buzz and say no to a child that has a weight issue and others have bullied her. So you look like the skinny broad looking down on the fat kid. Your vote could have lifted her up and other overweight people.

Amanda LaCount
Amanda LaCount, America’s Got Talent Season 15 contestant | Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

“Wow. Fat-shaming a young girl on #agt,” another viewer tweeted. “You are old enough to know better! Good for Simon who saw the dancer’s spirit when all you saw was her weight.”

Several tweeters called out Klum for her decision to hit the red X.

“What you did to that dancer that you said no to was a form of bullying!” they wrote. “Most of the acts on the show are not ‘Million-dollar acts’! She needed to be validated by all of you for her courage and work. Glad the audience saved her.”

However, many other viewers of the popular talent show defended Klum, saying her decision to hit the buzzer had more to do with LaCount’s performance than her weight. Whatever Klum’s reasoning, many America’s Got Talent fans — both in-person and online — supported LaCount and cheered when she moved on to the next round.

Who is professional dancer Amanda LaCount?

Per LaCount’s website, the dancer has already enjoyed a successful career in the industry.

Some of her most notable performances include performing in Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show at NYFW … dancing at Coachella with Lizzo, dancing with Meghan Trainor at the Radio Disney Music Awards, dancing on The Ellen Show with Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman movie, dancing with Disney’s Descendants 2 Cast on DWTS, dancing on 2 episodes of The Voice, [and] dancing in Katy Perry’s “Swish Swish” music video feat. Nicki Minaj.

Amanda LaCount
Amanda LaCount | Colin Weatherby / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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LaCount has also been on the cover of several dance magazines, including Dance Spirit Magazine in November 2018. Also, in a 2019 edition of Tiger Beat, “she was named one of the ‘6 dancers we can’t stop watching.'”