When local tattoo artist Shane O'Neill was crowned Ink Master Tuesday night on the finals of the Spike reality competition show of the same name, you may have heard the screaming of his family and friends all the way from his shop in Middletown, Del.
O'Neill, 40, an Aldan native who has a second parlor in Willow Grove, has known the results for nearly nine months, since the contest finished taping in New York.
He just has been contractually barred from sharing the good news.
"We've been getting together to watch all the episodes somewhere," he says, "but this week, they've all been harassing me nonstop with texts. I tell 'em, 'Come on, it's just one more night. Wait and see.' "
He credits his versatility for the victory over nine other elite tattoo artists. "I can do every style good and some great," he says. "Some of the others were great at one style and horrible at others."
It took some getting used to living in a communal house for two months surrounded by TV crews.
"The first day, I was shocked at how much camera stuff was going on," O'Neill says. "There were, like, 40 or 50 people hanging out behind the scenes. To me, it was more interesting than overwhelming."
For his win, O'Neill gets a cash prize of $100,000 and a profile in Inked magazine. But just being on the show has already been paying benefits.
"It's exposed me to tons of people that never came across my work before," he says. "My waiting list went from five months to a year. I was looking at the numbers on my website. From Dec. 31 to Feb. 20, there were 36,000 new visitors.
"TV really works!"
Take it from the Ink Master.