'AGT: All-Stars': Simon Cowell Helps 1 Act Make History With Unexpected Golden Buzzer

Comedian Mike E. Winfield made history during the Jan. 16 episode of America's Got Talent: All-Stars. Judge Simon Cowell pressed his Golden Buzzer after Winfield finished his act, making him the first comedian to receive that honor. He is also only the second comedian to get a Golden Buzzer, and the first since Howie Mandel gave Drew Lynch his seal of approval in 2015.

Winfield first appeared on America's Got Talent during Season 17, which aired last summer. He made it all the way to the finals before the dance group Mayyas won the season. Cowell, 63, praised Winfield for honing his craft in the months since Season 17 ended.

"You've come back funnier, more confident," Cowell told the Baltimore native. "You know what, Mike? I love, love, love people who compete. And I wasn't expecting to do this but I'm gonna do it." Cowell then hit that Golden Buzzer.

The comedian described the moment as "incredibly surreal," telling PEOPLE he got the "biggest Golden Buzzer you can get ever." After Winfield learned he was the first comedian to get Cowell's Golden Buzzer, he said he thought "my life was already changed, but now it's solidified."

Although Winfield already performed on the AGT stage, he was still surprised to see the response from the judges. "I had no idea what to expect. And when I got the cheer and them recognizing me, it just kind of put me in a comfortable place," Winfield told PEOPLE. "Because that's an intimidating environment, being in front of the world and having two minutes to knock out jokes, but that put me at ease."

After AGT Season 17, Mandel offered Winfield a spot as his opening act, but he had to decline due to Mandel's touring schedule. They stayed in touch though, and their relationship has "really grown in such a great way," Winfield said. "We talk standup all the time, and he tells me his thoughts on the current state of standup, and he's just like, 'Hey, just keep going ... be yourself,'" Winfield added. "He even told me this: 'If Simon didn't give you that Golden Buzzer, my hand was ready.'"

Winfield was not the only act to move on to the next round after Monday's episode. Saxophonist Avery Dixion, who was also a Season 17 finalist, won the Superfan vote. The other contestants who have moved on so far are aerialist Aidan Bryant (Season 6), the acrobatic Bello Sisters (Season 15), the Detroit Youth Choir (Season 14), and the Light Balance Kids dance troupe (Season 14). New episodes air Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. AGT is also available to stream on Peacock.