After taking a break to pursue music, Hawaii’s yo-yo master is back at it again

His winning routine featured 150 tricks — choreographed to three minutes of music.
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 1:05 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 4, 2022 at 1:19 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Hawaii’s Evan Nagao snagged the top prize at last month’s U.S. National Yo-Yo Contest, it was as if he had never put down the toy that’s defined his life.

“It was like people were hoping that they would see something cool from me,” Nagao said. “I brought my best.”

Nagao’s best as a yo-yo master is incredible. His winning routine featured 150 tricks — choreographed to three minutes of music.

It was a show stopper.

“Almost all of the tricks that I did on stage were just tricks that I had been creating on the side, just as a hobby,” he said.

That’s where his yo-yoing has been since the pandemic shut down competitions.

In 2019, he stepped away to pursue a path in music.

“Because of the nature of competitive yo-yoing, it was taking up five hours to ten hours a day of my time just practicing,” he said.

A change of heart happened when he decided he could do both things.

And there was something else.

He saw the influence he had on yo-yo enthusiasts from his social media videos that chalked up millions of views.

“When I saw those numbers, I realized, ‘OK. Even though music really is my dream and my desire moving forward, maybe the yo-yo thing with this viral potential can support it,’” Nagao said.

It didn’t take long for him to pick up where he left off.

He’s now a three-time national champ. This year he beat out 70 competitors.

“With yo-yoing, everybody has their own unique way to express it, and it’s like their own art,” Nagao said.

Evan now lives in LA, where he’s closer to the music scene.

He released an album and a handful of singles on Apple music and Spotify, and he has this shout out for the 808.

“Thanks to everybody and all my fans out in Hawaii, and everywhere,” he said.

And everywhere, fans of the king of string are happy to have him back.

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