The Empire Am Getting Paid is a skate competition, true, but for the world’s best amateur skateboarders, it means much more than that. It's an opportunity for them to show the world what they are capable of, to skate with other extremely talented guys, to win a piece of the $20,000 cash prize and most importantly, it's an opportunity for us to give unknown skateboarders a chance to make a name for themselves on an international level. Oh yeah, and It’s also one hell of a show!

All photos: Dan Mathieu / @danmathieu


Just like every year since the competition’s inception in 2004, Am Getting Paid 2017 was high in emotions and in action. To relive this epic event one more time, we invite you to keep reading.

Thursday September 28th – Practice session

When we got to Taz skatepark on Thursday afternoon, we could already notice that the skaters were hungry. Very hungry! We opened the doors around noon and in less time than it took for us to realize that the park had been completely repainted for the occasion, the madness had already begun.

Even though this day was scheduled only for free practice in preparation for Friday's qualifiers, the riders didn’t take it easy as they performed heavy tricks and were putting together crazy runs. Let us tell you that even before the competition was officially launched, it was already quite a feast for the eyes. That's when we told ourselves, "If the practice session is that intense, imagine the qualifications, semi-finals and finals... It's going to be insane!"

Friday September 29th - Qualifiers

Around 1h pm the following day, the Taz skatepark was already packed with young skaters crossing the place at high speed, still as hungry and motivated as the day before. With the possibility of leaving with a five digits amount of money, the riders did not take the qualification round lightly. With only 30 guys moving to the semi finals out of more than 60 skaters, each rider had three minutes in the park to impress the judges as good they could.

With a solid style, a heavy trick selection and one of the best kick flips in all skate history, the American Chris Wimer took first position in the qualifying round. Congratulations to the Zero Skateboards team rider for killing it like a champ in qualifications.


Saturday September 30th - Semi-finals

At this stage, there are only 30 skaters left in the competition. If you are part of those riders and you hope to be in the final top 10, you absolutely need to perform. The 30 qualified athletes didn't hesitate to give the best of themselves in hopes of being among the top ten, get in the finals and go home with a minimum of 500$ in their pockets.

Pleasing all the canadian riders and spectators in the house, JS Lapierre, our favorite local skater, took first place in the semi final round. Will our greatest Quebec talent be able to go home with the coveted first position for a second time in his career? We truly hope so, but only time will tell.

With a few minutes to go before the big final, the tension was high in the Taz skatepark. The crowd was dense and crazy, the cameras were out and the big tricks were executed in industrial quantities. In the park, the atmosphere of stress and excitement was palpable. Both for spectators and skaters.

 At that very moment, everyone was asking themselves the same question: Which one of the ten riders selected for the Am Getting Paid 2017 final will get 1st position? Place your bets!

Saturday September 30th - The Finals

The Am Getting Paid’s final round was far from disappointing. Ten dudes, three one minute runs, $20 000 on the line. Despite the amateur status, all the athletes performed like real professionals. Unfortunately, there are only three places on a podium... And it sure wasn’t easy  for the judges to select their occupants. Ladies and gentlemen, here are the top three winners of Empire Am Getting Paid 2017:

Kechaud Johnson - 3rd place

After winning The Boardr Am contest in Huntington Beach earlier this summer and qualifying directly for AGP's semi-finals, Kechaud Johnson arrived at the Taz like a ton of bricks last weekend!

To put it simply, this guy is just an animal! Built like a damn race horse, Kechaud rolled faster than everyone else, jumped higher than everyone else and grinded longer than everyone else. Unfortunately, his run lacked a bit of flip tricks and more technical maneuvers, but by combining incredible tricks on almost every rails in the park and skating several obstacles going up instead of down, the Texas prodigy put on an incredible show that got him 2500$ and the third position.

JS Lapierre - 2nd place

JS, our favorite skater and the winner of Am Getting Paid 2015 left the top spot to another skater this year, but it goes without saying that the battle was very intense. After missing a trick in his first run, the tension was high when the chronometer started for his 2nd performance. Wow! That second run was perfect. With a high number of technical maneuvers on the rails, gaps and transitions, all done with super smooth style and without any falls, we all seriously thought that JS would take Am Getting Paid’s first position for a second time right there.

Lapierre remained in the lead from the start to the end of the second round, but Jake Ilardi, one of the last riders to qualify for the finals, changed everything with his very last run. With humility and an impressive smile, JS was pleased with his result and knew that his opponent's run fully deserved the victory. It's always good to see that spirit of camaraderie in such an intense moment of competition. In the end, JS skated up to his talent and went home with $ 4,000 in his pocket! Pretty good!

Jake Illardi - 1st place

Nothing is done before the very end, and that's what Jake Ilardi, big winner of Am Getting paid 2017, has shown us. Jake earned the honors with an outstanding performance during his last final run. Some people have the gift of being able to perform very well under pressure. Jake Ilardi is one of them for sure.

The young Floridian was rolling at high speed through the skatepark as he performed rare maneuvers on obstacles of all kinds such as the big rail or the big quarter pipe. The craziest thing is that between ultra technical tricks on the rails, he landed a McTwist and a varial flip indy on the park's biggest quarter pipe. These are vert ramp tricks for Christ's sake... And he integrated them in his run ... Totally bonkers! By finishing his third and last run of the finals with a Big spin flip frontside boardslide on the double-set rail, Jake Ilardi took the first position from JS Lapierre and became Am Getting Paid’s official 2017 champion as well as the champion of TheBoardrAm Series. Even if JS didn't take 1st this year, we were super hyped that Jake got to win this thing in front of his close homies, our organizing partners at The Boardr.

Congratulations Jake for this well-deserved victory. We hope that this $10,000 will allow you to keep on following your dreams and support you in the path to professional skateboarder status.


Saturday September 30th - Vans Best Trick at P45

After all the action that took place inside the Taz during the finals, we could feel that the spectators wanted more. Perfect, because right after the AGP awards, it was time for the Vans Best Trick at P45, the DIY skatepark located just behind Taz. Sunny end of the day, free adults refreshments at the THR bar booth and legendary skate tricks; it was truly the most perfect way to finish the competition right.

With $2,000 in cash money to distribute for the best maneuvers in the DIY park, the Vans Best Trick did not fail to impress the spectators who stood tightly around the bowl, which got literally murdered by all the ripping skaters. Take a look at the video and photo gallery below for an overview of the massive destruction that occurred during the epic Vans Best Trick at Project 45.

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