Marylander Geoff Britten became the first "American Ninja Warrior" in the NBC show's finale Monday night. But it's one of his competitors who is $1 million richer.
That's because Colorado busboy and rock climber Isaac Caldiero summitted the 75-foot rope climb known as Mount Midoriyama in less than 27 seconds, 3 seconds faster than Britten, an Olney resident who works as a freelance cameraman with Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.
The two were the first to even reach the foot of the climb, the fourth and final stage of the competition. In six prior seasons of the American version of show, an export from Japan, no contestant had ever completed the third stage of the finals, a difficult obstacle course requiring strength and stamina.
But according to the rules of the competition, the $1 million prize goes to whoever climbs Mount Midoriyama fastest — meaning Britten brings home nothing but pride.
"As much as the money is a wonderful prize and life changing, he does get the great gratification," Kent Weed, the show's executive producer, told The Hollywood Reporter. "I don't think he harbors any ill will about it."
Britten, 36, was among 600 competitors on the show — including 100 who advanced to the Las Vegas finale.
When he finished the competition with just 0.35 seconds to spare, the audience there — which included fellow competitor and former Towson University gymnast Kacy Catanzaro — erupted.
"He did it. Geoff Britten did it," an announcer said. "For the first time in seven seasons, an American has summitted Mount Midoriyama."
Britten exhaustedly celebrated.
"That was awesome," he said to the camera, with relief.
But minutes later, Caldiero outdid him.
Britten was gracious in an interview Tuesday on the "Today" show.
"I'm so proud of Isaac; he's an animal," Britten said. "He was a better man that night. I have nothing but respect for him."