Simon Cowell Replaced by Kelly Clarkson on 'American Got Talent' After Back Injury

Kelly Clarkson will make her America's Got Talent debut, but probably not the way she wanted to appear. NBC called in The Voice judge to replace Simon Cowell at the last moment after the Got Talent franchise mastermind suffered a scary back injury on Saturday. Cowell was in surgery for six hours Saturday night and will miss both Tuesday and Wednesday's live AGT tapings.

"My friend, Simon Cowell, is doing better now but was in an accident and won't be able to make Tuesday and Wednesday's live shows for AGT," Clarkson said in a statement shared on her Twitter page Monday afternoon. "But no worries America, someone far wiser, cooler, and hotter is taking his seat! The unbelievably amazing Kelly Clarkson. You're welcome in advance!"

The other judges, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofia Vergara, will all be back for Tuesday's episode. Vergara and Klum both shared photos of the outdoor AGT set at the Universal Studios backlot, with a fourth seat just waiting for Clarkson. "Wishing you a speedy recovery," Klum wrote on Instagram, while Vergara wrote, "We miss our boss!! Come back fast."

Cowell suffered a serious back injury on Saturday when he was testing a new electric bike at his home in Malibu, California. He reportedly narrowly missed being paralyzed, as he almost broke his spinal cord. On Sunday evening, he revealed on Twitter that he should have read the manual before driving the bike. "I have broken part of my back. Thank you to everyone for your kind messages," Cowell wrote. "And a massive thank you to all the nurses and doctors. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. Stay safe everyone. Simon."


America's Got Talent's 15th season is down to 44 acts as the live shows begin, with 11 acts performing each Tuesday. The results of Tuesday night's voting will be revealed in a one-hour episode Wednesday. Several acts who submitted auditions online due to coronavirus shutdowns will also perform. This week's live episodes will feature performances from Archie Williams, Bello & Annaliese Nock, Divas & Drummers of Compton, Double Dragon, Feng E, FrenchieBabyy, Michael Yo, Pork Chop Revue, Golden Buzzer Roberta Battaglia, Shaquira McGrath, and Simon and Maria.

Clarkson, who won the first season of American Idol, is familiar to NBC viewers as a coach on The Voice. She has participated in every season of the show since Season 14. Clarkson's Emmy-winning daytime talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show is also produced by NBCUniversal Television. Clarkson was also judged by Cowell during the first season of American Idol, which she won.