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Shin Lim

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Shin Lim
Born (1991-09-25) September 25, 1991 (age 27)
  • American
  • Canadian
OccupationClose-up magician
Years active2009–present
Known for
Home townActon, Massachusetts, U.S.

Shin Lim (born September 25, 1991 in British Columbia, Canada) is a Canadian-American magician recognized for his use of card manipulation and sleight of hand, and widely known as the winner of America's Got Talent (season 13).[1] He is known for elaborate close-up card magic routines, during which he remains silent with the tricks set to music, including his award-winning acts "The Dream Act" and "52 Shades of Red". He is self-taught, having learned most of his skills from watching YouTube. Since then, he has shared some of his techniques on YouTube.

Originally educated to be a pianist, he took up magic as his career after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. Lim was discovered around 2012 and began to tour internationally, and subsequently won the 2015 Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques in Close-up Card Magic. His appearances on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and his win on America's Got Talent during its 13th season in 2018 led to more international fame.

Early life[edit]

Lim is the second of three children of Singapore-born parents and is ethnically Han Chinese.[2] He was born in Vancouver, where his dad was completing his post graduate studies. His family returned to Singapore when he was 2 and moved to Acton, Massachusetts when he was 11.[3] Lim attended the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.[4] As early as 9 years old, Lim showed an interest in music. His grandmother had originally given him a violin, but he became frustrated with that and smashed it after a practice session, and switched over to piano. After graduating from high school, he attended the School of Music at Lee University in Tennessee to continue his education in music.[4]


Alongside music, Lim was interested in magic during his younger years. His older brother, Yi, had shown him a simple card trick, and when Lim asked him how it was done, his brother told him to look it up on YouTube.[3] Lim delved into the videos available there and taught himself several tricks.[5] As he started to improve his skills, he developed his own tricks, and used YouTube as a platform to show his performances and technique.[3]

In 2011, at the age of 20, Lim was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. As the Lee School of Music required him to spend up to 20 hours a week on piano practice, he was forced to choose between his music and his magic career.[4][3] He opted to stick with his passion in magic, first taking a sabbatical from the school, but eventually dropping out and returning to live with his parents.[3] Lim continued to develop tricks and produce YouTube videos of his magic, as well as developing tricks to be sold to interested fans.[3] Lim describes his approach to magic as more of an artistic show, rather than an attempt to trick people. "I’m trying to change the outlook on card magic — to make it more artistic, more visual."[4] He has incorporated his past musical aspirations into his acts, putting nearly all his tricks to music, while staying silent during the tricks.[4] Lim compares his act to the movie Inception, in that it is artistic, yet accessible to the masses.[3]

He participated in the 2012 Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques (International Federation of Magic Societies) World Championship, where he finished in sixth place. At this point, Lim was unsure of his career, but was contacted in 2013 by an agent who had seen his performance at the World Championship, and who offered him the opportunity to tour across China. Lim agreed, and implemented some changes to his routine as a result. In addition to extending his show to now include 20 minutes worth of tricks, he dropped any narration from his routine, as he did not speak Chinese; this would become a defining feature of his future acts. By the end of the tour, Lim was featured as the final artist during the show.[3]

In 2015, he won the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés Magiques World Championship for Close-up Card Magic. Contrary to speculation, there was no million dollar prize, but there was potential to be seen by producers looking for talent. [4] He has been part of The Illusionists, a touring Broadway-style magic show that features a rotating cast of magicians and illusionists.[6]

Lim appeared twice on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, once in 2015 (shortly after winning the World Championship) and again in 2017. Both times, his tricks successfully fooled hosts Penn & Teller.[3] Penn Jillette described Lim's routine on his first appearance: "The idea of doing card tricks — which are silly at their very core — really seriously and really, really importantly is wonderful."[3] Jillette later described Lim as part of a third-wave of magicians, bridging the gap between spectacle performances such as David Copperfield and Doug Henning, and the reactivity aspects of magicians like David Blaine.[3] Lim's first appearance on Fool Us, uploaded to YouTube, went viral and has achieved over 50 million views, and led to his second appearance on the show by invitation. His performance in 2015 led to a number of other invitations to perform, including at the House of Magic in Macau, China, which Lim considered "the best gig in magic".[3] His special YouTube video "Pray for Paris" performance of his "52 Shades of Red" in tribute to the victims of the November 2015 Paris attacks further drew in more attention to his skills.[5]

Around March 2016, Lim had injured two tendons of his left thumb and received surgery to fix these. He feared that he would lose the ability to perform, but recovered after intense therapy without losing any of the skill required to pull off his full routines.[7]

On September 19, 2018, Lim emerged as the winner 13th season of America's Got Talent. In addition to a US$1 million prize, Lim will be a headline act at the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas.[8] His performances during the competition, while using variations of his tricks, included more dialog and other aspects, for example, demonstrating a bit of his pianist background for his final show. Lim said that one of the show's judges Simon Cowell advised him after his quarterfinal act that he needed to show more of his personality, and to step back from the card table and add larger elements to his show if he wanted a chance to win.[9]


External video
Lim's "52 Shades of Red" performed in support of the November 2015 Paris attacks

One part of Shin Lim's routines involves S.S.S., Sleeveless Silent Smoke. The method allows him to produce a small amount of smoke without a visible or audible source, which is used to punctuate certain parts of his tricks, such as making the face of a card disappear, or making a full deck of cards placed into a card box disappear before he crumbles the box.

Another trick in Lim's repertoire is "52 Shades of Red". While there are other parts to this trick in its variations, the trick culminates in appearing to change all the backs or faces of a standard deck of cards with a simple swipe of his hand. This can be changing the blue backs to red backs, or appearing to wipe out all the face markings to leave the cards blank, and restoring this later. In some performances of the trick, he will make a change on the card faces so that when fanned out, they spell a message to his audience before returning the decks to their normal appearance.

Personal life[edit]

Lim currently lives near Boston, Massachusetts.[9] He is currently engaged to Casey Thomas,[9] an Australian dancer to whom he proposed on August 19, 2017, in front of over 2000 people during a magic show at the House of Magic in Macau.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
2010 World Teen Close-Up Magic 1st Place
2011 Adult Card Magic I.B.M. 1st Place
2011 North American Adult Card Magic (Joint S.A.M. and I.B.M.) Champion
2012 FISM- North American Card Magic (Magic Olympics) Finalist (In Top 6, represented North America)
2014 North American Joint S.A.M. and I.B.M. People's Choice
2015 I.B.M North America 1st Place and People's Choice
2015 FISM World Champion in Close-Up Card Magic
2018 Merlin Award Best Close-Up Magician
2018 America's Got Talent (season 13) Winner

Magic Creations[edit]

Year Title Effect Notes
2011 Flawless Take on ambitious card
2011 Shinag Unique card reveal through card spring
2011 SPELL Spelling card trick (similar to ACAAN or CAAN)
2011 Control Freak Two card controls
2011 Think CAAN
2011 Shinsplint Card by Card Inversion
2011 Change of Heart Color Changes
2012 Shinanigens Culmination of 27 visual card effects
2012 IV(Four) Collection of card productions
2012 21 21 card moves/effects
2012 The Vanishing Coin vanish/ object transposition
2013 S.S.S. Smoke device
2013 52 Shades of Red (v1) Visual complete routine
2014 Iconic Phone Effects
2014 Iclear Phone to glass
2014 Flash Deck Switch Deck switching device
2014 The Switch Card switch
2015 52 Shades of red v2 Update to the 52 shades routine
2015 S.S.S. (2015) Update to the original S.S.S.
2016 Gone Deck Box vanish
2016 The Dream Act Full transposition routine
2017 52 Shades of Red V3 The final installment to the 52 shades of red routine


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Penn and Teller: Fool Us Himself Fooler
2017 Penn and Teller: Fool Us Himself Fooler
2017 Die Ehrlich Brothers präsentieren: Showdown der weltbesten Magier Himself Winner
2018 America's Got Talent (Season 13) Himself Winner


  1. ^ hermesauto (2018-09-21). "Shin Lim wins America's Got Talent: 6 things about the Singapore-raised magician". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2018-10-01.
  2. ^ a b Duncan, Amy (September 20, 2018). "Who is Shin Lim – the mesmerising magician who won America's Got Talent?". Metro. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Morrell, Dan (August 24, 2017). "Waltham's Shin Lim could be the biggest name in magic since David Blaine". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "A Waltham magician is blowing minds on 'America's Got Talent'". The Boston Globe. August 13, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Magic In The Computer Light: Shin Lim's Journey To The #1 Sleight Of Hand Artist In The World". Huffington Post. March 1, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2018.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Magician Shin Lim Wins 'America's Got Talent'". Billboard. September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Keverly, Bill (September 20, 2018). "'America's Got Talent': What did Simon Cowell say that helped Shin Lim win Season 13?". USA Today. Retrieved September 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Darci Lynne Farmer
America's Got Talent winner
Season 13 (Summer 2018)
Succeeded by