Season 13 of America’s Got Talent is set to premiere tonight — and fans who missed out last season are definitely going to notice that there’s something very different about the show. AGT‘s longtime host Nick Cannon shocked fans last year when he announced his abrupt departure from NBC’s reality competition show — but there were a series of events that lead up to him leaving his gig as the show’s host. Keep reading below to find out why Nick Cannon isn’t hosting America’s Got Talent anymore.
It started with Nick’s stand up comedy special.
In February 2017, the 37-year-old starred in his very own Showtime special titled Stand Up, Don’t Shoot — which was a play on the slogan adopted by the Black Lives Matter movement. During the one-hour show, Nick made various jokes about race issues, and he even name-dropped his NBC show and said that the network was going to make him lose his “black card.”
“I’m sorry white people,” he said, addressing some of his fans in the front row. “We’re over here talking about f–king players and stuff and you think this is America’s Got Talent.”
NBC reportedly threatened to fire Nick.
Executives at the network were upset because of the jokes he made and also because he mentioned them while promoting the special on The Howard Stern Show, TMZ reported. They thought about firing him for breach of contract because of a clause that barred him from talking about the network without their approval, but they decided against it.
He announced his departure in a lengthy Facebook post.
“After days of deliberating over some extremely disappointing news that I was being threatened with termination by executives because of a comedy special that was only intended to bring communities closer together, I was to be punished for a joke,” he wrote on Facebook.
“I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property,” Nick continued in his statement. “There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity. So I wish AGT and NBC the best in its upcoming season but I can not see myself returning.”
So why did Nick Cannon leave America’s Got Talent?
“Because it’s a job, and I’m not defined by a job,” Nick told Entertainment Tonight. “When people start to put restraints on my creativity as an artist, I just have to stand for something and money isn’t one of the things that moves me and inspires me.”