'King of the Wire' Walks Across the Grand Canyon
Nik Wallenda, also known as the "King of the Wire," on Sunday stepped out over the Little Colorado River Gorge and completed his most ambitious feat yet — walking across a canyon 1,400 feet across on a 2-inch thick steel wire, without a safety net.
The event was televised live on The Discovery Channel.
"At this point in my career, I've walked on a wire most of my life," Wallenda told the New York Daily News a few days before his historic jaunt near the Grand Canyon.
"When you go up higher than the Empire State Building, it's a mental game," he added.
Wallends said that he’s hoping his next big career step will be on the biggest stage of all. "The dream is to walk between two skyscrapers in New York," he said on air after completing his walk.
Wallenda told the Daily News that he tries to shut out thoughts of tripping or falling to his death, a fate that has taken some of his family members over the years. In fact, he said, media questions about falling mess with his mental preparation.
Nik is the seventh generation of "Great Wallendas", a family of death-defying circus performers who trace their roots back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1780. His first "official" performance was at age 2, but his mother was still walking the high wire at six months pregnant. His mother also handcrafts the shoes he wears on every wire walk.
In 2012, Wallenda became the first person to walk across the Niagara Falls — a feat that earned him his seventh world record. His first tight rope walk was in Old Forge, NY. He rode a bicycle across a wire suspended from the Prudential Tower in Newark, walked between the Pyramids and performed a 135-foot-long high-wire crossing between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
That was the same walk that killed his great-grandfather, noted the Daily News.
On Sunday, once he was close to the end with only a few feet left on the wire, Wallenda jogged to the safety of the other side. He kissed the ground before embracing his family. His completion time was just under 23 minutes.
"I did it," he said, tears forming in his eyes.
The Daily News reported that the two-hour special drew 8.5 million viewers, with 13 million viewers tuning in during the actual live crossing.