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The Magician Who Became An MBA

Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate and magician Jared Molton

Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate and magician Jared Molton

It should have been an easy audience. But magician Jared Molton, now an MBA candidate at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, was about to see his meticulously crafted show completely undone.

By a six-year-old girl.

Molton, it must be said, was only a teenager himself. Always fascinated by magic, he would buy commercially produced tricks and perform them for family and friends. He specialized in sleight of hand.

In 2003, family friends paid him $100 to perform at their daughter’s 6th birthday party. It was going to be Molton’s very first professional magic show. He was 15.

“It was a disaster,” Molton recalls. “There was this six-year-old named Sonya. After every trick she would yell out, she would heckle, saying, ‘I know what you did – you did this, you did this, you did this.’ She nailed it.”

The Temple Screen, Hippity Hop Rabbits – the blonde-haired, blue-eyed brat was onto every trick.

HECKLING PIPSQUEAK ‘GAVE HIM NIGHTMARES’

“She would literally describe the mechanism,” Molton says. “That was the worst heckler I ever had. That six-year-old kid gave me nightmares.”

Well, little Sonya was going to get what was coming to her – but it wouldn’t be right away.

In the meantime, Molton was practicing. And practicing. He would spend hours, days, months, perfecting a trick.

Jared Molton, up to his old tricks again

Jared Molton, up to his old tricks again – Marcelo Marcos photo

Seven years later, the family friends again hired Molton to perform, this time for their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. In the audience was the very same Sonya. It was payback time. Vengeance, for Molton, was sweet – and took the form of the “Between Your Palms” trick. He had Sonya sign a playing card, then hold it between her hands, while he held another card above. Abracadabra, and the cards were switched.

A MIND IS A BEAUTIFUL THING TO WRECK

“After seven years of experience,” he says, “I was able to go out there and just wreck her mind.”

Molton, 26, is a living example of a truism in MBA program admissions: the curve ball often makes it over the plate. He came to Kenan-Flagler not from finance, or consulting, but from retail. And it was not large retail. It was, in fact, rather odd retail – but not a surprising venue for a man of Molton’s talents: he’d been general manager of a New York City magic shop on 34th Street. In magician’s circles, Louis Tannen Inc. was the center of the universe, and its eponymous owner was as famed a salesman as he was a magician. From his shop, opened in the ’40s on 45th Street, he sold retail magic tricks and magic books, and he ran a wide-reaching mail-order business. High profile magician Doug Henning was a customer.