Mat Franco in 2015
May 10, 1988|
Johnston, Rhode Island
|Residence||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Alma mater||University of Rhode Island|
|Known for||America's Got Talent Season 9 winner|
Mat Franco (born May 10, 1988) is an American magician and the winner of the ninth season of America's Got Talent. Franco rose above hundreds of thousands of acts to become the first magician in history to win, including the $1 million prize. Best known for his personality-driven, sleight-of-hand style of magic, Mat Franco's TV specials marked the first time NBC produced a spin-off show around their AGT winner. Franco is currently headlining in at The LINQ Hotel and Casino at the Mat Franco Theater in Las Vegas.
Franco was born in Johnston, Rhode Island. After he saw magic on TV when he was four, he begged his parents to get him a magic set. He then began performing tricks in his kindergarten class. One of his greatest influences and the first assistant was his grandmother, who used to read magic instructions to Mat when he was too young to read for himself. One of Mat's favorite memories is when he and his grandmother tried to figure out a way to make cards appear out of thin air, like a magician they had seen on television. They hung a black curtain in the living room and cut a hole in it. Mat's grandmother hid on the other side and passed cards through the curtain to Mat while his grandfather watched, playing along with that "grandma must have stepped outside for a minute" and that he had no idea how the cards were appearing.
Franco continued studying magic as a child and performed any chance he could. When he was 12, he had saved enough money from local shows to fly to Las Vegas to study performance art with some of his idols, including Jeff McBride.
Franco graduated from Johnston High School in 2006 and was captain of the wrestling team his senior year. He would go on to study at the University of Rhode Island, receiving a degree in Business Administration with a minor in Communication Studies.
After graduating from college in 2010, Franco performed his one-man show on college campuses throughout the U.S., touring six months out of the year, for four years. He was nominated for "Fastest Rising Star" in 2012, and in 2013 was awarded "Best College Performer" by Campus Activities Magazine (based in Prosperity, South Carolina) in their Reader's Choice Awards.
Franco was always encouraged by his grandmother, Eleanor Campellone, who told an interviewer, "His mother was always working and he couldn't show her everything -- look mom, look mom. So the grandma was there and I had all the time in the world. I'd spend hours watching his tricks."
America's Got Talent
In 2014/2015, Franco achieved mainstream success as the winner of America's Got Talent.
- June 17, 2014: Audition – In Los Angeles, during Episode 904, Franco used card manipulation to impress the judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel. With a shuffled deck of cards he told a story that he wrote about America's Got Talent. (The audition was recorded in April in the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.) And got a standing ovation.
- July 22, 2014: Judgment Week – In Episode 907, Franco performed a visual interactive card trick where he painted a picture of Howie Mandel on the Judges' desk, using just a deck of cards. This performance earned four Yes votes again.
- August 5, 2014: Quarterfinals – Franco appeared in Episode 911 and used Heidi Klum as his assistant. His tricks with fire and with disappearing and reappearing cards earned him four Yes votes and standing ovations.
- August 6, 2014: Quarterfinals – In Episode 912 in New York, Franco was one among five acts to proceed to the Semifinals.
- September 2, 2014: Semifinals – In Episode 919, Franco was one of twelve acts competing for six opportunities in the Top 12 Finals. After having Howie, Howard, and Heidi choose three random cards (6, 4, and 2), he borrowed Mel B's phone; dropped it into liquid; vanished the phone using a hair dryer; and then moved into the middle of the audience at Radio City Music Hall to cut open seat #642, revealing Mel's phone inside the seat cushion.
- September 3, 2014: Semifinals – In episode 920, Franco was Voted through to the Top 12.
- September 9, 2014: Top 12 – In episode 921, Franco performed an interactive trick with the live audience, including the judges, and even the home viewers. He had everyone at home select a card, and using cannon, was able to get the selected card stuck to the ceiling at Radio City Music Hall.
- September 10, 2014: Top 12 Results – in episode 922, Franco was voted through to the Finals, and was declared the last magician standing in the competition.
- September 16, 2014: Finals – In the finale, each performer had to do a reprise of a previous performance. Franco chose to do a twist on his audition, by doing a version of Cups and Balls, accompanied by another story that he wrote about the judges. Later on in the episode, Franco performed a large scale trick which included a "human deck" of cards, which consisted of 52 random audience members that Nick Cannon chose, and brought on stage.
- September 17, 2014: Finals Results – Franco appeared as one of six finalists at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The show, in which Franco used Rosie O'Donnell and Howard Stern as assistants, aired on television on September 17.
At the conclusion of the finale, Franco was announced as the winner.
He continues to return In specials of following seasons of Americas Got Talent such a s a Christmas special in 2016.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote of Franco's stint on America's Got Talent: "Franco did a crafty job of customizing his prediction-based, sleight-of-hand magic to make maximum use of Talent judges Howard Stern and Mel B. And he displayed a personality and sense of humor that other magicians were not able to convey in their limited camera time."
It's been said that Franco "specializes in creating customized, interactive presentations for his audiences that allow for spontaneity and improvisation. For Mat, magic isn't about 'tricking' or 'fooling' the audience; it's about connecting with people and bringing smiles to their faces."
Franco began headlining in Las Vegas at LINQ Hotel & Casino on August 5, 2015. The show is titled "Mat Franco: Magic Reinvented Nightly". By 2016 the show was named "Best Magic Show in Las Vegas" by the Las Vegas Review Journal. 
Franco returned to Radio City Music Hall as the featured guest performer on America's Got Talent for the first live broadcast of the show's tenth season (August 12, 2015). He later returned for the season finale.
Franco starred in his own two-hour magic TV special titled Mat Franco's Got Magic that aired on NBC on September 17, and December 9, 2015.
Franco started to actively post his tricks on his YouTube channel in April 2015. He currently has over 200,000 subscribers to his channel.
In 2016, his Vegas show was awarded "Best Show" on the Las Vegas Strip in the "Las Vegas Weekly Readers' Choice Awards".
In February 2017, Mat Franco returned to his alma mater University of Rhode Island for a show celebrating the university's 125th anniversary.
On July 10th 2017, the LINQ officially renamed the theater the "Mat Franco Theater" and the city of Las Vegas presented Franco with a key to the Las Vegas Strip and declared July 10th officially "Mat Franco Day."
- ""America's Got Talent" winner Mat Franco's magical night". CBS News. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Wagmeister, Elizabeth (18 September 2014). "Mat Franco wins 'America's Got Talent' Season 9 -- Exclusive Interview". Hollywood Life. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Smith, Andy (September 15, 2014). "Will R.I. Magician Mat Franco's Act do the Trick in America's Got Talent Finals?". The Providence Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- "Mat Franco | About Mat". matfranco.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Jaehnig, Dan (Sep 17, 2014). "Franco's Grandmother Sparks his Magic". NBC Channel 10. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- "Magic man gets a chance on prime time". NewportRI.com. June 17, 2014. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- Weyant, Jennifer (August 5, 2014). "Mat Franco Amazes America With His Fiery Card Trick". Business 2 Community. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- NBC 10 News (September 17, 2014). "Mat Franco enjoys the magic of winning 'AGT'". NBC 10 News. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- Meganrosshl (September 17, 2014). "'AGT': Rosie O'Donnell's Raunchy Magic Trick With Mat Franco". Penske Media Corporation / HollywoodLife. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- Weatherford, Mike (September 25, 2014). "First magician winner headlines 'America's Got Talent' Live". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- NBC (2014). "About Mat Franco". NBC. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
- BWW News Desk (April 2, 2015). "AMERICA'S GOT TALENT's Mat Franco to Launch Summer Residency in Las Vegas". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
- Providence Journal (October 5, 2016). "Magician Mat Franco to Appear to URI". providencejournal.com. Retrieved February 11, 2017.