Timothy Michael Poe, a rising star on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” has become the subject of controversy after reports emerged that call into question his account of surviving a grenade attack in Afghanistan.
On Monday night, the show’s audience broke into applause after they watched a video of a teary-eyed Poe talk about the injury he sustained in Afghanistan. He explained that he had acquired a stutter after suffering a brain injury during his 2009 tour and added that the attack ended his 14-year military career, but that singing was his way of healing.
A day after the show aired, however, Lt. Col. Kevin Olson of the Minnesota National Guard issued a statement objecting to Poe’s account.
“Sgt. Poe’s official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009,” he wrote, according to The Associated Press.
The 35-year old singer defended himself in an interview with CJ Troy, host of the military podcast “YouServed," insisting his story was accurate.
By Thursday, "America's Got Talent" producers, FremantleMedia issued an apology for using a photo in Monday night's program of a soldier they believed to be Poe, but turned out to be another soldier.
"We sincerely apologize to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Norman Bone for using a photo of him in our story on Tim Poe," FreemantleMedia said in a statement. "It was supplied to us by Tim and used on the show in good faith. It has now been removed and will not be used again.
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The show's producers told TODAY.com that they don't run background checks on contestants until they make it to the Top 48 and did not indicate how far along Poe had made it on the show.