Utahn claims 'American Ninja Warrior' title, $1M prize

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utahn made history Monday night after becoming the second U.S. contestant to complete all four stages of "American Ninja Warrior" and the first official winner to claim the $1 million prize.

"American Ninja Warrior," which just completed its seventh season on NBC, was based off the global hit, "Sasuke," a Tokyo-produced reality show. "Sasuke" showcases the athleticism of Japanese citizens by having them compete in a series of obstacle courses, and in 31 seasons only four contestants have finished the entire course.

More than 3,500 contestants have competed during the seven seasons, and Utah-native Isaac Caldiero, 33, finally claimed the title of "American Ninja Warrior" after the season finale aired Monday evening.

Caldiero was born in Salt Lake City and grew up in Orem. The professional rock climber said he became interested in the reality show when he realized he could do many of the obstacles.

HISTORY. HAS. BEEN. MADE. Meet your first American Ninja Warrior, @IsaacCaldiero! #NinjaWarriorFinalepic.twitter.com/1E1Yksdhfu — Ninja Warrior (@ninjawarrior) September 15, 2015

He and his girlfriend, Laura Kisana, [competed on the show in 2013,](http://www.ksl.com/?sid=30808215&nid=1205) after standing in the walk-on tryout line. The couple made it to the semi-finals and Caldiero qualified for the finals in Las Vegas, but fell short of winning the title. Caldiero and Kisana again qualified and competed in 2014 and Caldiero again made it to the finals, but failed to complete all four stages.

Monday, Caldiero and Geoff Britten, a Maryland cameraman, became the first Americans to ever complete stage three on the course, qualifying them for the fourth and final stage, Mt. Midoriyama, according to The Washington Post. The fourth stage required both contestants to climb a 75-foot rope in a mere 30 seconds — a feat that Britten completed first, but Caldiero completed 3.6 seconds faster.

"It's been an amazing season," Caldiero said in an Instagram post. "Props to Geoff Britten (for) giving it his all and setting a fast time! I accomplished what I set out to do! I found my impossible by becoming the first ever American Ninja Warrior Winner!!"

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During the 2015 season, a record 28 contestants completed stage one, eight finished stage two, and for the first time ever, two completed stage three and four, according to USA Today. The final three stages were filmed over about 10 hours in late June at the Las Vegas course.

Caldiero currently lives in Boulder, Colorado, and works as a busboy when he's not rock climbing.


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Faith Heaton Jolley


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