Former Lee University student wins season 13 of 'America's Got Talent'
UPDATE: Illusionist Shin Lim has won season 13 of America's Got Talent.
Lim stunned the audience and judges with his slight of hand tricks throughout the season.
Lim has ties to the Tennessee Valley. He attended Lee University to focus on becoming a pianist. However, Lim dropped out when he developed carpal tunnel.
That led to his career as a magician and arguably Wednesday's victory on AGT.
Chattanooga native Michael Ketterer placed 5th in the competition. Judge Simon Cowell told Ketterer that the two of them were not done working together.
PREVIOUS STORY: It all comes down to tonight's finale on "America's Got talent". The season 13 winner will be chosen and the show's ten finalists include two people with ties to the Tennessee Valley.
Local fans held watch parties Tuesday and students at Red Bank High School held a pep rally for alum, Michael Ketterer. Students and faculty said they couldn't be more proud of their hometown finalist and how special it is to have someone so talented is from their community.
Ketterer gave a heartfelt performance of Mavin Gaye and Tammi Terrell's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," bringing all four judges to their feet on night one of the finales.
"I feel like I've already won already because I feel like I have just already gained so much from this experience. It's just been wild, you know," Ketterer said after the performance.
The pediatric mental health nurse now lives in California, but it originally from East Tennessee.
He won over judge Simon Cowell early on and received the golden buzzer during auditions sending him straight to the live shows.
Ketterer has not only dazzled audiences with his voice but his story too. He and his wife adopted five children from foster care, one of whom has cerebral palsy. He said If he wins the competition and the $1 million prize, he will buy his family a new home that's easier for his son to maneuver.
"The biggest thing for me was my kids getting to see their dad just take it, take it on, take the risk," he said.
His authentic personality has transcended to his fans at his alma mater, and current students say his resilience inspires them to reach for their goals.
"I think it's pretty neat that he's going along, following his dreams and not giving up and trying his best to get to the finals and win," said Matthew McGowan, who is a current Red Bank student.
Ketterer's aspirations began in the "Lion's Den" at Red Bank. Michael's brother, Jake Ketterer said he's been in the spotlight long before America's Got Talent. He explained he often performed in school talent shows, such as the 1996 "Gym Jam."
While much of the attention in the Tennessee Valley has been on Ketterer, another contestant has ties to the area as well. Illusionist Shin Lim, has stunned the audience and judges with his slight of hand tricks. However, his first passion was music and attended Lee University to pursue his dreams. His focus was being a pianist but had to drop out of school because he developed carpal tunnel, which then led to his career as a magician.
The finale of this season's show airs Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. EST on Channel 3.
If you think you have a million dollar talent, auditions for next season are underway now, visit America's Got Talent's website for information on how to apply.