(NBC News) — It came down to a country-rock duo and a spoken word artist and when it was done the poet from Stockton, California edged out broken roots to take AGT’s season 15 crown. 

“I dropped straight to my knees because this is an answered prayer,” said last night’s winner Brandon Leake. “This is me talking to God for months, for years, asking for an opportunity like this.”

Leake had failed to make the show in 2017 but this season, his performances found a receptive audience. 

“With the world in its political climate, and social climate, and with everybody kind of at a standstill, there’s a beautiful opportunity for a reset,” reflected Leake.     

The victory was especially gratifying for the judge who gave Leake the golden buzzer last spring. 

“I have a restored faith in humanity and our country,” said judge Howie Mandel. “And it never felt more important than it did right now in this year.”

But even after Leake’s stirring prayer to his infant daughter Tuesday night he was not sure of his chances.

“Like, Cristina Rae is about to win this, and when she took third, I was like, I have a shot,” described Leake.  

Now, with a million dollars in hand and a headlining show in Las Vegas,
Leake hopes an even more valuable message will resonate with his daughter.

“Look at how much my dad chased after his dream and caught it, there’s no reason that can’t be me,” said Leake.

Brandon Leake is now living proof.

As Leake indicated singer Cristina Rae finished third another singer, 11- year-old Roberta Battaglia of Toronto was fourth and aerialist Alan Silva was fifth.