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Shin Lim

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Shin Lim
Shin Dream Act.jpg
Lim in 2016 performing his "Dream Act"
Liang-Shun Lim

(1991-09-25) September 25, 1991 (age 27)
  • American
  • Canadian
OccupationClose-up magician
Years active2009–present
Known for
Home townActon, Massachusetts, U.S.
Casey Thomas (m. 2019)

Liang-Shun Lim[1] (born September 25, 1991), known professionally as Shin Lim, is a Canadian-American magician of Han Chinese heritage, recognized for his use of card manipulation and sleight of hand. He is known for elaborate close-up card magic routines, during which he remains silent with the tricks set to music. 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 wins on America's Got Talent during its 13th season and on America's Got Talent: The Champions 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, where he double majored in piano and telecommunications and was a member of the Choral Union ensemble.[1][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]

Lim was encouraged to try out for America's Got Talent by his fiancee Casey Thomas, a dancer and assistant to another magician when he had met her. Thomas encouraged Lim and provided him with advice from her own work to improve his routines.[8] Lim was selected for the 13th season of the show, and on September 19, 2018, was announced as the winner. In addition to a US$1 million prize, Lim will be a headline act at the Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas.[9] His performances during the competition, while using variations of his tricks, included more dialogue 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.[10] He was subsequently invited back to participate in America's Got Talent: The Champions, which started filming immediately after his 13th season win, and edged out American ventriloquist and season 12 champion, Darci Lynne.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Lim lives near Boston, Massachusetts and holds both Canadian and American citizenship.[10] He got engaged to Casey Thomas,[10] an Australian dancer, on August 19, 2017.[2] The two married on August 19, 2019.[12]


Year Title Role
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
2019 America's Got Talent: The Champions Winner


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
2019 America's Got Talent: The Champions Himself Winner


  1. ^ a b "Alumnus Shin Lim Wins Season 13 Of America's Got Talent".
  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. ^ Fierberg, Ruthie (August 23, 2018). "Watch the Illusionists in Their Unbelievable Magic Routine on America's Got Talent". Playbill.
  7. ^ "Shin Lim".
  8. ^ Keverly, Bill (February 19, 2019). "'AGT: The Champions' crowns sleight-of-hand artist Shin Lim: 'Such a fun run'". USA Today. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  9. ^ "Magician Shin Lim Wins 'America's Got Talent'". Billboard. September 19, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Who Won AGT: The Champions?". E! Online. February 18, 2019.
  12. ^ Lim, Shin (August 20, 2019). "Today was absolutely amazing ❤️ photo by @louis.aslarona". Instagram. Retrieved August 20, 2019.

External links[edit]

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