Opera Singer Neal E. Boyd Wins America’s Got Talent

10/02/2008 at 12:00 AM EDT

Opera Singer Neal E. Boyd Wins America’s Got Talent
Chris Haston /NBC

St. Louis insurance salesman Neal E. Boyd was crowned the winner of America’s Got Talent’s third season on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

The opera singer, who joked to PEOPLE that “my voice is big, like me,” tearfully hugged host Jerry Springer when his name was announced. Sobbing, the humble Boyd said softly, “Thank you, America.”

It was a shocker to some, especially AGT judge Piers Morgan, who thought New York-based violin duo Nuttin But Stringz would walk away with the show’s top prize. Instead the Escobar brothers, whose original compositions electrified the audience all season long, ended up second runners-up.

One million dollars richer and a music career ahead of him, Boyd simply says, “My life will never be the same.”

Moments after winning Boyd received a special congratulatory message from his idol, opera tenor Placido Domingo.

On October 17 Boyd and the rest of season three’s top five finalists will perform at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with season two’s winner, ventriloquist Terry Fator. --Monica Rizzo

Tell us: Were you rooting for Neal? Who would you have liked to see win AGT?

Chris Haston /NBC

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