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Since America's Got Talent premiered its new season earlier this month, fans have witnessed judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Sofía Vergara react to some spectacular and exciting acts. But recently, viewers have noticed that Howie has been missing from auditions — in fact, his absence was markedly noticeable on last week's episode, when the famous stand-up comedian disappeared about two-thirds of the way through and never came back.
So where exactly did Howie go? Here's what we found out about the judge's recent absence from the hit NBC competition show:
What happened to Howie Mandel on America’s Got Talent?
During last week's episode, when Howie went noticeably missing, host Terry Crews shared a brief announcement: "Howie Mandel isn't feeling good, so he won't be here tonight," he stated. With three judges for the time being, Terry explained that the rules were changed so that two "yes" votes would advance the act, and three red buzzers would stop them.
Fans, of course, were still left wondering what had exactly happened to Howie. One even took to Twitter to ask the AGT judge directly, writing, "Howie, are you gone for some of the tapings? You’re not in Urban Crews audition." Howie retweeted the fan and simply wrote back, "I got Covid."
So, as it turns out, there's a simple explanation behind Howie's absence after all. As fans might remember, the comedian previously shared that he had contracted COVID-19 back in April at the 2022 Kid's Choice Awards, where he accepted the award for Best Reality Show for AGT alongside his fellow judges — likely around the same time these recent episodes of AGT were filmed.
Though Howie seems to have physically recovered from COVID-19 since then, he revealed that he had struggled with his mental health due to having to isolate during that time. "I'm vaxxed, and I'm boosted, so my symptoms weren't terrible," he said, according to People. "But ... the mental pain of me being locked in a room for 10 days, not going near anybody ... I went insane."
When is Howie Mandel coming back to AGT?
It's not clear how much of AGT season 17 will have Howie absent from the show, but as he was out while he had COVID-19, we're expecting that his absence will also be felt in more upcoming episodes. Still, rest assured that the comedian is not going anywhere from AGT in the long run.
The only question, of course, is whether there might be a temporary judge to replace Howie during the times he's absent in future episodes — such as when Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet was brought in as Heidi’s replacement while she was out sick during season 15. While we're hoping to see Howie back in the judge's chair very soon, we're also curious — as we're sure many other AGT fans are — as to how a new temporary judge could shake things up on the show.
Of course, we'll have to keep tuning in to season 17 to find out!
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