South Carroll High School graduate Max Major’s appearance on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night stunned the audience and judges with a mind-bending performance. And he found out Wednesday night that it was good enough to continue competing.
The results of this quarterfinal round of the NBC competition show — determined by viewers across the country who voted for their favorite performance — were broadcast Wednesday night. Major was one of the five acts from Tuesday’s episode that get to move on to the semifinal round.
“There’s nothing I could have done differently, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he told the Times in an interview Wednesday afternoon, before learning whether he would advance. “I feel amazing with how it went, and that’s all you can really do.”
The five acts were chosen from 11 performers to move forward; at this point in the competition, it’s up to the viewers to vote on their favorite acts to push them forward toward the grand prize of $1 million and a headline show in Las Vegas.
In the Tuesday episode, Major appeared to read judge Howie Mandel’s mind, along with hundreds of audience members watching remotely. The judges, who were spaced out in chairs, watched as Major told the virtual audience members, shown behind him on a giant screen, that he was going to try to get inside their minds through the screen.
He asked the audience members to take out a sheet of paper and a pen and then, for a moment, to close their eyes.
Major then asked them to focus on an image in their minds and then draw the image on their piece of paper.
Before Major could move forward with this particular act, he took off his wristwatch and began setting a particular time, unknown to the audience and judges. Major then placed the watch on a mount beside him and asked Mandel to close his eyes and to picture a clock face with its hands spinning round and round until Major said stop. He then asked Howie what time he saw in his mind.
Mandel said 4 o’clock.
Major then took the watch and revealed the time he had previously set. There it was, 4 o’clock.
Howie’s eyes opened wide. The audience, shocked, clapped, but Major still wasn’t done. “Now that we’re on the same wavelength, I’d like to take things a step further,” he said.
Major pointed to an envelope that was sitting on the table and told the audience that it contained his “intention” for the evening.
Before he could reveal the envelope to the audience members and the judges, he asked Mandel to take out a pen and paper as well, and to think of an image in his mind and then draw it.
Major then reached for the envelope that was perched on the table beside him. Inside the envelope was a picture of a sun with a smiley face.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Mandel said.
What did he draw? A sun with a smiley face.
Major then asked the audience members on the screen behind him to reveal their drawings as well.
Smiling suns all around.
Major explained his performance by showing how he used subliminal messaging, hiding multiple images of a sun in plain sight throughout a video of himself that the judges and audience had previously seen. “Even in this virtual world, we are all connected,” Major said, closing his act.
Before “America’s Got Talent,” the Woodbine native put on shows at an early age, and then in his teens he performed at the Carroll County 4-H and FFA Fair where he demonstrated feats of mentalism, which he has described as a marriage between a magician’s showmanship and psychology, mixed with science and hypnosis.
Now, far beyond performing on the Carroll fairgrounds, Major has been given the opportunity to perform his act in front of the nation.
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Major’s Tuesday performance was especially notable for him because it was his first in-person stage performance on the show.
“I had never actually performed in front of the judges. The first performance was from my living room, and the next one was over video chat,” he said. “So for me getting to be in front of the judges and being able to show them what I can do on the full stage in person was really important.”
Major’s in-person act was enough to convince voters to move him into the semifinals. But judge Sofia Vergara did caution him that’ll need to go bigger with his next act in order to remain in the competition.
“I still have a story to tell, and I hope to show people something they’ve never seen before and give people a chance to question their own mind,” Major said in the interview. “My act isn’t about tricking or fooling people, it’s about showing everyone how incredible the human mind is.”
Times reporter Mary Grace Keller contributed to this article.