In a message posted Monday on his Facebook account, the comedian says he will not be returning to the NBC reality competition for season 12 after executives at the network threatened to fire him over a racial joke he made in a recent Showtime stand-up special.
“I was to be punished for a joke. This has weighed heavy on my spirit. It was brought to my attention by my ‘team’ that NBC believed that I was in breach of contract because I had disparaged their brand,” wrote Cannon. “I find myself in a dark place having to make a decision that I wish I didn’t have to, but as a man, an artist, and a voice for my community I will not be silenced, controlled or treated like a piece of property. There is no amount of money worth my dignity or my integrity.”
Production on season 12 of America’s Got Talent, which would have marked Cannon’s eighth as host, is set to begin next month. The rest of the judges, Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, are set to return for the new season, which is expected to premiere sometime this summer.