Shin Lim, Michael Ketterer, Zurcaroh, Duo Transcend, Samuel J. Comroe, Daniel Emmet, Brian King Joseph, Glennis Grace, Vicki Barbolak and Courtney Hadwin remain

By Karen Mizoguchi
September 19, 2018 10:03 PM
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Shin Lim is the winner of America’s Got Talent!

“When you told me at 16 that an awkward, shy kid would one day be performing at the Dolby Theatre performing on America’s Got Talent, I wouldn’t have believed them. To compete on AGT, it means the world to me,” said Lim, who opened up about his carpal tunnel syndrome due to a career-ending injury to his thumb tendons.

The 26-year-old self-taught magician, who was born in Canada and currently lives in Acton, Massachusetts, wowed audiences through sleight of hand magic and close-up tricks. For his final trick, Lim performed a card trick with host Tyra Banks and American Ninja Warrior co-hosts Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila.

During the competition, both judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell called Lim “the best close-up magician they have ever seen.”

“You’re the only one that makes me believe that magic is possible,” Heidi Klum said.

Lim becomes the second magician to win AGT. Mat Franco was the winner of the ninth season.

Shin Lim
Trae Patton/NBC

Early in his childhood, Lim, whose parents are from Singapore, showed an interest in music and chose to play the piano at age 9. As a hobby, he practiced magic at age 16.

However, he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome at age 20 and was forced to choose between his two interests. Lim gave up his piano career, even dropping out of the School of Music at Lee University in Tennessee.

After learning most of his magic skills from watching YouTube, he appeared twice on Penn Jillette and Teller’s magic competition show, Penn & Teller: Fool Us, in 2015 and 2017. He took his talents overseas, including gigs in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan.

Lim beat out fellow top 10 finalists: singers Courtney Hadwin, Michael Ketterer, Daniel Emmet, and Glennis Grace as well as comedians Vicki Barbalok and Samuel J. Comroe, and trapeze couple Duo Transcend.

In third place was electric violinist Brian King Joseph and second place was the acrobatic dance group Zurcaroh.

Brian King Joseph; Courtney Hadwin; Michael Ketterer
Greg Gayne/NBC; Trae Patton/NBC (2)

In addition to the title of season 13 champion, Lim also takes home a $1 million and a headlining gig at the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas Nov. 2-4.

Lim, who is the reigning world FISM champion for close-up magic, also has plans to perform alongside The Illusionists, a group of magicians who also got their start on the reality competition.

America’s Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.