America's Got Talent Winner Shin Lim Explains Why His Finale Magic Act Was A Risk

Another season of America's Got Talent has come to an end, and the two-night finale managed to showcase ten very different acts in ten very different ways. After all the votes were tallied, host Tyra Banks announced that sleight-of-hand artist and card magician Shin Lim is the Season 13 champion, beating runner up dance troupe Zurcaroh. Lim was a consistently spellbinding performer throughout the whole season, and he regularly confounded the judges with his tricks, but he surpassed himself with the season finale performance that saw him combine showmanship with sleight-of-hand.

Shin Lim spoke with CinemaBlend after winning the top America's Got Talent prize, and he explained that the finale act with Tyra's nine of hearts card was actually a risk. When I asked if he thought at any point that something might go wrong in an act, he said this:

So many times! For the finale, almost every single part of that act, I was 50% unsure of because it was so finicky. It was such a new act. The majority of the things that was done in that performance was done for the first time. We kind of rushed it, like, 'All right, let's just do this because we've never done it before, but whatever!' I've never performed it for my parents, I've never performed it for anybody. Just my friends who were helping me at that point. That's it. It was kind of weird doing that because I only had about seven days-ish to prep that act.

When Shin Lim began his finale act on September 18, it was immediately clear that he was doing something new for the final performance viewers would get to vote (or not vote) on. Judge Simon Cowell had criticized Lim for what he considered a lack of showmanship earlier in the season, and if Lim wanted to deliver the kind of showmanship that would dazzle even the formidable Simon Cowell, he was going to need to design a whole new act in the span of a week. The act that saw him begin at a piano and end up blowing everybody's mind from the stage delivered the kind of spectacle that belongs on a Vegas stage. It's no wonder viewers gave him their votes!

That said, trying a brand new act that was far out of the comfort zone he'd shown in his previous America's Got Talent appearances was a big risk for Shim Lim, although it's probably safe to say that it's what clinched the victory for him. After all, viewers from home couldn't tell that anything was finicky or that he'd hadn't been doing this particular trick for his whole career, and the jump in showmanship showed off some impressive versatility.

There's a good reason why Shin Lim only had seven days to prepare for his finale act, and it has everything to do with that criticism from Simon Cowell about showmanship. Instead of going with something he knew well and had done many times but might not dazzle the judges, Lim decided to go in a new direction. Here's how he describes the origin of the act:

That act didn't exist at all before Simon said that. When he said that, I was like, 'Okay, well, I gotta think of something bigger.' And then so my creative process was more along the lines of, 'All right, I'm going to start out close up, I'm going to pretend like I'm kind of doing what I usually do, right on the table, and then take a left turn and just surprise people that way.' That was kind of where I was going in my head.

So we all have Simon Cowell to thank for Shin Lim's risky decision to mix up his performance style and try something very fresh. The finale act featured more than one twist and turn, and Cowell was ultimately impressed enough that he stated Shin Lim could very well win the top prize by the end of the competition! Well, the next night proved that Lim did indeed earn the top prize, and the rest is history. In case you missed his finale act the first time around (or are just in the mood to watching it all over again), take a look!

The America's Got Talent action may be over for Season 13, but more talent is on the way. Auditions for the next season of AGT are currently underway, and interested acts can register at The end of the season also doesn't mean the end of your opportunities to see Shin Lim's tricks in action. He's headlining the America's Got Talent Live stage show in Las Vegas at the Paris Theater, with performances from November 2-4. The show will also feature performances from Lim's competitors, including comedians Vicki Barbolak and Samuel J. Comroe, violinist extraordinaire Brian King Joseph, gravity-defying acrobat pair Duo Transcend, and young powerhouse singer Courtney Hadwin.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).