Imagine a gymnasium filled with people. Eight spotlights, like a concert performance, pointed at the center stage; 15 performances for the crowd so large, there were people on the second floor balcony, careening to get a better look, each performer vying for the cash prize for whoever claimed the title of best performance.

This was the Apollo Talent Show.

The Govs Programming Council has held the Homecoming talent show annually for several years, but according to GPS president Ashley Hayes, this one was different from the rest.

“For previous talent shows, we just held a first-come, first-serve policy,” Hayes said. “This time, each performer had to audition for their spot in the competition.”

Each performer or group of performers created and submitted a video of their piece, and the GPC used these videos to fill the 15 slots of the roster for the evening of Tuesday, October 20.

After all the performances were complete, the judges discussed and decided on the three finalists, who would then be voted on by the audience.

In the end, the judges decided on the McClaire and White duo, Kelsey Mercer and her solo performance of the song At Last, and a group known as “Spoken Peayce,” an organization with a love of poetry and inspiring speeches.

Mercer, a senior sociology major with a family studies minor, said she was nervous about how well she did.

“I was a little nervous at first after seeing everyone perform, but then, when I got the crowd’s reaction, I thought I may have a good shot at winning,” Mercer said.

Mercer said she chose the piece because of her family.

“Earlier this summer, I sung it at my cousin’s wedding, and the audience’s reaction then was very surprising,” Mercer said.

Her family “thought it was a recording,” and convinced her to perform it for the competition.

“I already knew the lyrics, so it was easier,” Mercer said.

Once the judges had decided on the three finalists, the audience voted electronically by logging into a dedicated web server from their phones, and placing a vote for one of the three contestants, with the results being tracked live on a projection screen.

When the votes were cast, Mercer came out on top and received the $500 cash prize.

“Well, I know I need to pay off part of my phone bill and I really need to save,” Mercer said. “I’m so bad at saving money, so I really need to put some away for a rainy day. I’m telling you, it came at the right time. I definitely prayed about it. God knew what I needed.”

“People have already been saying this was the best one yet,” Hayes said. “The audition requirement really made the performances more interesting.”

Hayes said she hopes to continue the talent show into the future.

“[Apollo] is a tradition, and lately we’ve been trying to form traditions around campus,” Hayes said. “Students love it, so why not?”