Home from Hollywood: The Voice runner-up Kenzie Wheeler returns to Tampa Bay

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – A special homecoming happened Wednesday at Tampa International Airport for the young man with a big voice from a small town.

“I’m glad to be home,” said Kenzie Wheeler, the runner-up on the NBC hit show The Voice. “And I’m just really thankful for all of America’s support and Florida’s support and everybody back home with the watch parties and everything.”

The 23-year-old mullet man from Dover won over the hearts of country music fans across the nation as he represented Tampa Bay from a four-chair turn during his blind audition all the way to the finale for the show’s 20th season.

Wheeler flew home from Hollywood to a long awaited hug from his mom, Patty Wheeler.

“Oh my gosh,” she aid. “I’ve missed him so much. I don’t even know if I have words. He did so amazing out there and I’m just so proud of him and I’m glad to have him home.”

The soulful country singer said his signature hairstyle is here to stay.

“It’s already trademarked,” Wheeler said. “I can’t cut if off for sure.”

Now that he has showcased his talent on the national stage, 8 On Your Side asked Wheeler what’s next?

“Hopefully somebody reaches out,” he said, “whether it’s a label or somebody that wants to help me on in my career and Nashville is an option.”

But first, he said he looks forward to a belated 23rd birthday celebration with his friends and spending time with mom and dad.

“It was a long road coming, but finally she kind of pushed me to send in the video and I made it to the finale, got second place and here we are,” Wheeler said of his mom. “She’s helped me so much through everything, through life and I cant thank her enough.”

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