Spiritual Warrior Isaac Caldiero Claims the “American Ninja Warrior” Prize Money »
Isaac Caldiero, a legend in the rock climbing community and a seasoned “American Ninja Warrior” competitor, claimed the show’s $1 million in a photo finish worthy of the 7-year wait to crown the reality competition show’s first grand prize winner.
Caldiero, the subject of an exclusive feature interview in the upcoming November issue of Science of Mind magazine, beat out dozens of other Ninja hopefuls in the heart-stopping, action-packed finale that aired Monday night, September 14.
A life-long meditator who views climbing as his spiritual practice, Caldiero says he relied on his skills in visualization and “hyper focus” to conquer the American Ninja Warrior course.
Now in its seventh season, the popular NBC reality series features athletes from across the country competing on what is touted as the most challenging obstacle course in the world. The prize money for the first competitor to complete the multi-stage course has risen over the years from $250,000 to $1 million as season after season concluded without a winner.
After a grueling qualifying round, a city semi-final, and the Las Vegas four-stage national final, the 33-year old Caldiero made the 75-foot rope climb up the fabled Mt. Midoriyama in a little over 26 seconds to rewrite history and be the first to claim the $1 million “American Ninja Warrior” prize. When faced with the final rope climb, he says “I just tried to become one with the rope.”
Caldiero, a quiet, contemplative rock climber who works as a busboy in the off season, was lovingly described by his girlfriend, Laura, as a “reincarnated Buddha.” Although he occasionally allowed his inner showman to peak through, his performance on the “American Ninja Warrior” course was measured and focused. It’s the way he meets all of his challenges.
As a result of his efforts, he may very well be the richest busboy in America. But he’s taking his new-found wealth in stride.
A self-described “gypsy” who is comfortable living out of his car (and occasionally an RV), Caldiero doesn’t think the $1 million prize will have much impact on the simple lifestyle he and Laura enjoy.
“We may upgrade a little bit. Not necessarily to a bigger RV, but a more functional one. We bought a really old school 1978 model for about $1,000 that was kind of on its last limb. I rebuilt the engine, and we lived out of that for three years. Now, we just live out of our Subaru. Those RVs are not the most gas-efficient vehicles. If we were to upgrade or get something new, it would be something that was not super extravagant or large. That’s not who we are.”
What he does plan to do, however, is invest in more rock climbing opportunities. “I’ve done a lot of traveling abroad. I spent three years in Europe as a sponsored rock climber. But my sponsorship money barely covered the cost of travel. Now I’ll be able to travel wherever I want whenever I want, which is pretty sweet. I’ll have more freedom to just go rock climb all these amazing, beautiful places all over the world!”
Will he compete again on “American Ninja Warrior” next year? You bet. “I’m a lifer!” he says.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I had the privilege of watching Caldiero compete in the American Ninja Warrior finals in Las Vegas (I was the crazy person in the front row screaming her lungs out when he won). His ability to navigate seemingly impossible obstacles with grace and ease was not only inspiring, but breathtaking. Congratulations, Isaac!
Don’t miss the in-depth interview with this amazing athlete in the November 2015 issue of Science of Mind magazine.
(Images from “American Ninja Warrior” are courtesy NBC.)