On Monday's episode of America's Got Talent, a 35-year-old country singer named Timothy Michael Poe won over the judges and viewing audience with a heart-wrenching tale of his life as an injured war veteran. Poe told the judges he had spent 14 years in the military, and had suffered a broken back and brain injury when he was hit by a grenade in Afghanistan in 2009. He stuttered while talking to the judges, which he attributed to a long-lasting effect of the grenade attack, but his singing voice was smooth and confident. A therapist had told him that singing could help his speech problem, he said.
Naturally, there were plenty of tears from sympathetic audience members during Poe's performance, and he ended up receiving a standing ovation along with three "yes" votes from the judges.
Too bad it's now sounding like Poe's inspirational tale of heroic service and overcoming the odds was all a bunch of B.S.
During a taped interview on the show, Poe described how he came to be injured:
I had volunteered for a team to go out and clear buildings and help out with the wounded. There was a guy who come up with a rocket-propelled grenade. I saw it coming down, and by the time I turned and went to jump on top of my guys, I yelled `grenade' and the blast had hit me.
Poe said his military career ended in 2009 after the grenade blast gave him a broken back and brain injury, which left him with a permanent stutter.
Here's the video of his interview and subsequent performance:
He sounds like an amazing guy, right? Except as it turns out, there's no military record of his supposed combat injuries.
According to records, Poe served with the Minnesota Army National Guard from December 2002 through May 2011, working as a supply specialist. He was deployed in Kosovo from Oct. 10, 2007 to July 15, 2008, and then served in Afghanistan for about a month in 2009.
Lt. Col. Kevin Olson, a spokesman for the Minnesota National Guard, said in a statement,
Sgt. Poe's official military records do not indicate that he was injured by a grenade in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, as he reports.
Poe's story seems to be rapidly unraveling, with his wife Kelly Ballard, a fellow veteran, saying that Poe had been injured during training exercises in Mississippi, not Afghanistan. Also, TMZ has learned that the photo displayed during his AGT audition shows a DIFFERENT SOLDIER.
Not only that, on Tuesday Poe was interviewed on the military-focused You Served podcast, and confessed that he previously falsely claimed he'd earned both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. As for WHY he lied about being awarded with the military honors, he told podcast host C.J. Grisham,
It was just something stupid. (…) Everyone there had (medals and honors) (…) it was just one of those things where you feel out of place and you want to feel like you were part of something.
On the same podcast, when asked if he had given any wrong information to NBC, Poe said,
Sure. It was a show. It wasn't out there to make anyone feel bad.
He also said,
(The grenade attack) may not have happened exactly how I explained because I don't remember a whole bunch.
NBC won't comment on whether or not Poe will remain in the competition (because hello, this whole thing is GREAT publicity for America's Got Talent), but I can't imagine that whatever fame Poe may have gained from this show will be worth the fallout from being outed as a liar. Making up stories about medals and combat injuries not only makes him seem like an unbalanced person who can't get by on his own merit, it's hugely disrespectful to the military men and women who would never be so dishonorable as to lie about their service.
Whatever happens to Timothy Michael Poe from here on out, I hope he gets his life together and realizes that he doesn't need to make up lies to follow his dreams.
Do you think Timothy Michael Poe should be booted from America's Got Talent?
Image via YouTube