Mat Franco is the winner of America's Got Talent season nine. In fact, the self-taught Franco is the only magician to take home the competition's million-dollar prize. He recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his show "Magic Reinvented Nightly" at the Linq Hotel & Casino.
You're celebrating your one-year anniversary in Vegas. Tell us a little about what that experience has been like.
It's really been amazing. I didn't know much what to expect opening my first residency in Vegas. It's a lot of pressure. You wonder: Is it going to be boring? Is it even going to remain open more than a month? So many questions pop around in your head [that it] gets overwhelming. But as soon as we got into it and things took off, it was great, like living a dream. The dream that I dreamt of as a little kid really does exist and I get to share what I love to do with my audience.
What is it like to be able to associate with some of the biggest names in magic now?
It's really bizarre. I went back to [Rhode Island] to visit friends and family. It's not until I got back to where I grew up that I get to stop and reflect on how crazy it is. If you told 10-year-old Mat that I would be associating with people I looked up to at that time I would have said you're crazy, that's impossible, no way. It's pretty awesome. I think the best word for it is surreal. Not like anything I expected.
What can audiences expect at your show?
It's really not a traditional magic show. One of the great compliments we get is 'We don't really like magic, but we really like your show.' It's interactive and the finale changes every night depending on what happens during the show. No rabbits from hats, no people to be sawed in half. It's a lot of magic you really can't see anywhere else. I really tried to create my own genre of magic with this show.
You recently made a $5,000 donation to the Animal Foundation. Why did you choose this nonprofit?
I've always been an animal lover. I feel very sympathetic. They don't have a voice. And for an organization that brings in 30,000 animals each year, they really need the resources to find these animals homes. We get a lot of love from our pets and that was my way to give back.
So, one year down, what's on deck for year two?
I'm so thrilled there even is a second year. I have some new magic I'm working on. Like a musician working on a new album, some things aren't quite ready yet. I can't reveal too many teasers and I want to put the finishing touches on things. But I'll still play the hits that people like to come see again and again and again.