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Houlton native eliminated from ‘America’s Got Talent’ as death-defying stunt fails to impress judges

Posted Aug. 21, 2013, at 9:36 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 21, 2013, at 10:07 p.m.
Sam Johnson rides a unicycle on a slack line during his performance at the Bangor State Fair in 2007. Johnson was eliminated from NBC's &quotAmerica's Got Talent" on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013.
Bridget Brown | BDN
Sam Johnson rides a unicycle on a slack line during his performance at the Bangor State Fair in 2007. Johnson was eliminated from NBC's "America's Got Talent" on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Buy Photo

Houlton native Sam Johnson was eliminated Tuesday night from the “America’s Got Talent” reality TV competition.

Johnson, 34, had hinted in an interview late last week that his performance in week five of the reality show competition would be the most dangerous he’d performed for the cameras to date.

Outside New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall, Johnson climbed atop an 80-foot sway pole, similar to the device on which he performed his initial audition for the show. He put his feet in stirrup-like holders atop the pole and waved to the crowd below as the pole swayed in the wind. Then, Johnson flipped upside down, slid his foot through a rope noose and the sway pole suddenly dropped like a pendulum, taking Johnson with it.

But it wasn’t enough to move the 1998 Houlton High School graduate forward in the competition.

On his first appearance, Johnson climbed atop an 80-foot sway pole set up outside the show’s studios, and then, completely untethered, did a handstand. For his second performance, he doused his signature top hat with gasoline and lit it on fire, before pouring gasoline over his head, and putting the hat back on. He then climbed up onto a slack line stretched across the stage, proceeded to mount a unicycle and then juggled three batons, which also were on fire.

But three of the four judges — Heidi Klum was the exception — weren’t convinced that viewers will think Johnson’s more recent act was dangerous enough to vote him through to the next round, and America agreed.

America’s Got Talent continues at 9 p.m. next Tuesday on NBC.

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