Voice Winner Todd Tilghman Says He's Going to Spend Cash Prize on Taking His 8 Kids to Disney

By Todd Tilghman

todd tilghman
Newly-crowned Voice winner Todd Tilghman is making clear that the phrase "we're going to Disney World" isn't reserved just for Super Bowl champs.

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'The Voice' finale: Todd Tilghman wins Season 18; Blake Shelton gets kiss from Gwen Stefani

By Todd Tilghman

'The Voice' finale: Todd Tilghman wins Season 18; Blake Shelton gets kiss from Gwen Stefani

Blake Shelton is back on top.

Todd Tilghman – who was the first person to audition on this season of "The Voice" – outlasted everyone and was crowned the Season 18 winner during the first-ever remote finale.

Tilghman was surrounded by his wife of 21-years and their eight children in Mississippi as host Carson Daly named him the winner. He said Shelton's support has "meant the world to me in all of this."

Streamers fell on Shelton, who tuned in safely from Oklahoma with his family. The country crooner got something sweeter than a trophy – a congratulatory kiss from girlfriend Gwen Stefani.

Despite technical difficulties with Shelton’s microphone, "The Voice" effortlessly combined 21 livestreams from around the nation into one seamless finale after the coronavirus pandemic forced the NBC singing competition to go remote over safety concerns. 

Tilghman's win makes Shelton, the last original coach on the NBC singing competition, the undisputed champ. Already the winningest coach in the show's history, Shelton now has seven wins under his cowboy belt. 

"The Voice" remote finale, Part 2: Pictured in this screen grab: (top row l-r) Todd Tilghman, Toneisha Harris, Thunderstorm Artis; (bottom row l-r) Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas.

Tilghman, a Mississippi pastor, earned four chair-turns during the Blind Auditions with his emotional rendition of Bob Seger's "We've Got Tonight."

Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas and John Legend all appealed to Tilghman's roots with their church backgrounds, but he ultimately went with Shelton as his coach. 

"I love your voice. I love the passion. I love the range. … I love the hop," Shelton said before labeling his praise dance the "Holy Hop." "I think Todd is special and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the finals. He’s got a great voice and a lot of drive."

Turns out, Shelton knows what he's talking about.

When the votes were tallied, Toneisha Harris (Shelton) and Thunderstorm Artis (Nick Jonas) rounded out the Top 3; CammWess (John Legend) came in fourth place and Micah Iverson (Kelly Clarkson) in fifth place. 

The two-hour season finale was more like a concert, with virtual guest performances and post-competition duets with the Top 5 and their coaches.

Tilghman looked right at home alongside Shelton while performing John Mellencamp's "Authority Song," while Artis and Jonas dedicated a cover of Phil Collins' "You'll Be In My Heart" to all health-care workers battling COVID-19. 

Harris and Shelton jammed out to "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, symbolizing her journey on "The Voice" after returning nearly a decade after she was originally supposed to audition for Season 2. 

Shelton performed his No. 1 single "Nobody But You" with Stefani for Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; Legend sang "All of Me" for the nursing staff at Los Angeles' St. Francis Medical Center; and Clarkson performed her new multilingual single "I Dare You," which includes lyrics in six languages. 

Jon Bon Jovi looked cooler than a cucumber while sipping from a red solo cup before Bon Jovi performed "Limitless." Other guest performances included Lady Antebellum's "Champagne Night."

Legend added: "We had some adversity this year, but we got to run this show in a brand new format and I don’t think Blake even wants to leave Oklahoma anymore if we can do it like this

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Meet the pastor and father of 8 with no music training who just won 'The Voice'

By Todd Tilghman

todd tilghman

Todd Tilghman, a pastor from Meridian, Mississippi, who’s a father of eight, won “The Voice” on Tuesday night, becoming one of the unlikeliest reality show winners in history.

In a genre where younger contestants tend to thrive, Tilghman, 42, burned brightest on the 18th edition of the Emmy-winning series, becoming the oldest person to ever win on the show, in a finale that aired remotely.

“‘The Voice’ could change everything for me. Right now, I only sing at church. I don’t perform or record,” Tilghman said early in the season, reports The Washington Post. “To be able to support my family strictly through music would be a dream.”

Tilghman finished first, which is right where he started: He was the first person viewers saw auditioning when “The Voice” kicked off its season back in February. He made a solid impression early by getting all four coaches to turn their chairs in an attempt to woo him to their respective teams.

The Voice - Season 18
Tilghman performs during "The Voice's" knockout round.NBC

Tilghman proved popular from the get-go with fans and the coaches, earning raves with his country selections and his penchant for filling everyone in on life with his family.

“I’ve literally never performed. I just sing at church,” Tilghman said when he tried out.

Tilghman also singled out his wife for her support, discussing how she encouraged him to audition.

“I am really thankful that she believed in me in a place in my life where I didn’t even realize that I had sort of stopped believing in myself,” he said.

The Voice - Season 18
Tilghman and his family celebrate his historic win.NBC

Blake Shelton coached Tilghman. The country music star, who was already the winningest coach in “The Voice” history, now has seven titles.

“You’ve kind of been this well-kept secret down there in Meridian, Mississippi. Nobody knew this incredible superstar was lurking in a church down there,” Shelton told Tilghman before the winner was revealed.

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'The Voice' Season 18 Winner Todd Tilghman Says His Big Win Is 'Really Validating' (Exclusive)

By Todd Tilghman

'The Voice' Season 18 Winner Todd Tilghman Says His Big Win Is 'Really Validating' (Exclusive)

The Voice season 18 was an unconventional one, but Todd Tilghman was thrilled to win it all the same!

The Meridian, Mississippi, pastor and family man was named the newest champion of the NBC singing competition show on Tuesday, receiving the exciting news from his home as the show filmed remotely during coronavirus social distancing.

ET's Cassie DiLaura caught up with the newly crowned Voice champ following his win, where he admitted the experience still hadn't sunk in and opened up about the support from his family and coach Blake Shelton during the season's unconventional remote live shows.

"This whole thing has been really remarkable," Tilghman marveled. "We didn’t know if they were just going to nix the rest of the season or what was going to happen, you know? When [news of the remote shows] first came down, it was a little disappointing, but I’m going to tell you, over time, you just grow and adapt and life changes. And every now and then, something is going to come your way that you did not see coming."

"The younger kids, they just [hoped we won] because their mom told them we’d take them to Disney World," he joked. "Which will be all of the prize money and then some, with a family like mine."

However, the recognition is just as meaningful for the singer himself, who happens to be the oldest Voice champion in the history of the show. Tilghman admitted winning America's vote has "boosted my confidence."

"It's really validating, but it's also really humbling at the same time. It's hard to explain," he noted. "It's just taught me that people want to hear me. Whenever they put 'Long Way Home' out, on Monday... I was flipping out, 'cause it was like, No. 65 or something. And then, before I went to bed it was No. 1."

"That is nuts. These things don't happen to me, you know, like, I just do regular life. I put gas in the car and go to the bank, and stop at the grocery store, you know, those kinds of things."

One of Tilghman's biggest star moments so far, in fact, has happened in his own hometown.

"You know you made it in a small town in Mississippi when the McDonald's sign has your name on the marquee," he recalled with a laugh.

And the small-town pastor and family man has found a friend and professional ally in coach Blake Shelton, whom he said is "100 percent genuine.

"The reason that I chose him was that in the hopes that it would be like it turned out," he noted. "Like, we could just laugh, and joke, but then when it’s time to be serious, say let’s do this... Blake is also notorious for helping people on his team after the show. And I need that. I don’t know anything about the music world. So, I need that. It’s been great. He feels like a close friend, he really does."

During the remote live shows, Tilghman of course also had the support of his wife and kids, particularly his eldest son, Eagan, 20, who was previously a contestant on NBC's crafting competition show Making It, and assisted his dad with some of the technical setups and camera work.

"He’s been the biggest help, technologically and creatively," the proud father said. "My wife, though, she’s like the one, she’s making sure I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, when I’m supposed to do it, you know... She’s cheerleader number one for me."

His family is still working to wrap their heads around his big win, Tilghman said, noting that, when coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, he and his wife are hoping to get away for a few days, "just to process all of this."

"It hasn’t even hit me that I was on The Voice yet!" he laughed.


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