It took seven seasons, but NBC was finally able to give a contestant a million dollars.
“After seven seasons, NBC’s ‘American Ninja Warrior’ has crowned its first champion, as Isaac Caldiero, a 33-year-old rock climber and busboy, became the first U.S. contestant to complete all four ‘stages’ of its grueling Las Vegas obstacle course in Monday’s season finale,” reports our good friend Gary Levin in USA Today.
In fact, as Levin points out, Calfiero was the second contestant to perform this feat during last night’s show, but he beat the second place finisher, Geoff Britten, by doing it faster.
Levin writes that though the “Ninja” finale just aired last night, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, “The final three stages were filmed over about 10 hours in late June, with Caldiero emerging the victor shortly before sunrise after an unusually hot day. ‘Ninja Warrior,’ shared by NBC-owned Esquire Network, is based on Japan’s ‘Sasuke,’ which has aired since 1997. Only four contestants have achieved ‘total victory’ in 31 seasons of that competition, each taped in a single day. Early seasons of the American series sent top finishers to Japan’s ‘Mt. Midoriyama,’ as the course, constructed in a Yokohama parking lot, is called; it has since been re-created in Las Vegas.”
Levin also notes that “the competition has moved from a male-driven niche cable series to NBC’s No. 2 summer show among younger viewers, and 52% of its audience is women, says executive producer Kent Weed.”
Furthermore, Levin writes that the series, up until the finale last night, has been “averaging 7.2 million viewers, up 22% from last year in its most-watched season yet.”
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Here’s Caldiero’s final million-dollar run through the obstacle course: