IDOL: Luke Bryan’s “Favorite Female Country Voice” Earns First Platinum Ticket


American Idol is officially back! The singing competition returned to television Sunday night (February 27) for its 20th season and the talent is stronger than ever.

To celebrate the show’s “platinum” anniversary, one hopeful from each audition location will be awarded a platinum ticket in place of the iconic golden ticket. This special ticket sends the artist to the next stage of the competition in Hollywood and also allows them to skip a day of competition which could give them a huge advantage.

“They get to basically observe from the box seats at the theater—one day, they get to rest their voice, strategize, check out the competition, and select who they want to duet with,” judge Katy Perry shared. “They get a tiny advantage because they’re the cream of the crop.”

We saw the first platinum ticket of the season awarded Sunday night after Huntergirl (whose real name is Hunter Wolkonowski) stood in front of the judges and delivered a jaw-dropping cover of “Riot” by Rascal Flatts. The performance earned the singer a standing ovation and a “victory lap” from Luke Bryan who gave her one of the greatest compliments we’ve ever heard on the show and predicted that she would make it to the Top 10.

“It’s like a new-age Miranda Lambert deal going on,” Bryan told Hunter. “This is my fifth year doing this, and that is my favorite female country voice I’ve heard in five years.”

Hunter, who works in music therapy with veterans, not only unanimously earned a spot in the next round of competition, but was surprised with the first platinum ticket. Huntergirl was invited to perform at Luke Bryan’s Nashville bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge, and was surprised when the Idol judges were there to surprise her with the special honor.

“Having a golden ticket and getting to go to Hollywood is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Thank you guys for believing in me,” Hunter said.

The judges made their way to the stage where Luke Bryan told her, “Because it’s the 20th year of ‘American Idol,’ for 20 years, you’re supposed to have platinum, right?”

“So inside this guitar is another ticket that only one person in the city gets during audition times,” Katy said. “It’s the Platinum Ticket. That means not only do you get to go to Hollywood, but you get to relax for one day, rest your voice, size up the competition and figure out how to become the next American Idol.”

Watch Huntergirl’s memorable American Idol audition in the video below.

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