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"I couldn’t have asked for anything more amazing than this," says Shin Lim, who became the second magician to win America's Got Talent

By Karen Mizoguchi
September 20, 2018 07:04 PM
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America's Got Talent - Season 13
Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

Shin Lim pulled off the ultimate magic trick by winning America’s Got Talent.

The 26-year-old self-taught magician tells PEOPLE he still can’t believe co-host Tyra Banks announced him as the winner of season 13 during Wednesday’s results show.

“For me, the whole thing was kind of like a dream. When Tyra announced my name, I went into a state of shock,” says Lim, who was born in Canada and currently lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

“I couldn’t really hear anything because the cannons went off behind me. It was quite memorable. Definitely going to remember that feeling for the rest of my life,” he adds.

Less than 24 hours after hearing his name called out as the champion, Lim is getting used to the idea of winning $1 million and a headlining gig at the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas from Nov. 2-4.

“It’s kind of settling down now but it’s still a blur. I really can’t believe that a card magician could win AGT like this. Magicians in general struggle on the show, so for me to make it to the Top 5 was like wow,” says Lim, who ate an In-N-Out burger immediately after the results show to celebrate his victory.

America's Got Talent - Season 13
Shin Lim
| Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

“I couldn’t have asked for a better platform. I couldn’t have asked for anything more amazing than this. It’s so life-changing and so many incredible memories that I’m trying to hold on to. I don’t want to forget it,” he adds.

Looking back on his season 13 journey, Lim admits he has one regret.

“The quarterfinals, I wish that was better. I guess I wasn’t focused enough,” he says. “I think I might have been nervous. It wasn’t my best performance. I do wish that one could have been better.”

America's Got Talent - Season 13
Shin Lim
| Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

During his time on AGT, Lim opened up about his carpal tunnel syndrome, which he was diagnosed with at age 20 and is what forced him to give up his piano career.

“I think the best thing to take out of my story is there’s always another way. Even when a door closes, another one does open because there’s always another way out. I really thought my career was over when I quit playing the piano because that’s all I did,” he says. “I practiced three hours a day since I was nine. My parents, my friends, my teachers, they all thought that I was going to be a concert pianist so that was my vision as well. I thought it was all over, genuinely for a year.”

As a hobby, Lim had practiced magic, starting at age 16, but quickly realized it was his passion.

“But then magic started to somehow pick up and I started actually making money from magic. I thought, ‘Wow this is actually possible. I can make a living off of this.’ That’s what I want to tell people: you can do it,” he says.

After his big AGT win, Lim, who calls retired magic star Lance Burton his idol, looks to wow fans with even bigger close-up tricks and more sleight of hand moves.

“Something along the lines of the finale,” he teases of his Paris Theater shows. “The finale gave me hope and inspiration that I can actually continue doing stuff like that. It gave me a lot of hope.”

Tickets for Lim’s Vegas shows, featuring season 13 finalists Vicki Barbolak, Samuel J. Comroe, Brian King Joseph, Courtney Hadwin and Duo Transcend, go on sale on Friday and can be purchased at www.AGTVegas.com.

Season 14 auditions for America’s Got Talent are currently underway and interested acts can register at www.AGTAuditions.com.