Mandy Harvey stole the hearts of millions of Americans and earned the golden buzzer from Simon Cowell when the deaf singer-songwriter sang and played the ukelele on America’s Got Talent.
Supposedly, Harvey was born with hearing problems and had several surgeries as a child to try to correct them. She loved singing ever since she was a child and was quickly recognized for her talents. As the story goes, she lost her hearing when she was nineteen, while majoring in singing education.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, Harvey was spotted at a Beverly Hills Whole Foods talking on a cellphone, prompting mass speculation that she was actually a ringer, or simply attempting to profit by feigning her disability. While many fans were quick to come to her defense, Harvey herself admitted that she had been lying, and issued an apology for her deceit:
I’d like to take this time to apologize to my friends, family, and above all, my fans. I am deeply ashamed for lying about my disability. The truth is, I hear perfectly fine. However, I had hoped to improve my own odds with an amazing, nearly unbelievable set of odds to overcome, while also, inspiring people to do things that seemed impossible. What could be better than a deaf girl singing and playing an instrument? My intention was to lift people up with both my music and my story. I never meant to hurt anyone, or to trivialize the experience of people with real and serious disabilities. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart and soul.
“I’m floored, and not in a good way,” said Simon Cowell. “What Mandy did was bloody despicable. I feel personally betrayed as I’m sure millions of people with hearing impairments must feel to the trillionth degree.”
Harvey is not expected to return to America’s Got Talent, and will be forced to resign as an Ambassador for No Barriers, a non-profit that supports those with disabilities.