Daredevil acrobat Nik Wallenda successfully completed a two-part walk between two Chicago skyscrapers on Sunday night, taking on a 19-degree incline for the first stage of the walk, and wearing a blindfold during the second portion — all of which was completed without a safety harness or net.
“I feel incredible. So thankful, obviously, that I made it across safely,” Wallenda said at a press conference after the challenge. “Hopefully more people around the world are inspired, that if they work hard enough, they will achieve their goals.”
Wallenda, who now holds nine Guinness World Records, crossed both parts of the first challenge, navigating a blindfolded walk and a 19-degree incline (which before Sunday night was anticipated to be 15 degrees), using only a pole for balance.
But there’s one thing Wallenda said he set out to do, but didn’t achieve: take a selfie. “I had every intention of taking a selfie,” Wallenda said, adding that strong winds prevented him from doing so. “I’m so bummed that I didn’t.”
A camera attached to Wallenda revealed just how high his walk was.
“As I step on that wire, every single step is either life or it’s death,” Wallenda told Morales on Sunday morning’s TODAY.
The broadcast was aired with a 10-second delay, the New York Times reported, to ensure “nothing that is insensitive or inappropriate.”
To prepare for the stunt from his home near Sarasota, Florida, Wallenda and his team rigged exact replicas of the two wires he’ll face in Chicago. But Wallenda said preparing on an exact replica is not the same because “the wire is never the same twice.”
Helping Wallenda prepare is his father and safety coordinator, Terry Troffer, who told Morales that his son is looking forward to the challenge. “He told me last night that he’s really excited about this,” Troffer said. “That’s a relief to me because I’m really concerned about his safety.”
Wallenda first stepped onto a wire when he was 2 years old, and has spent almost every day since then training on a wire for three to four hours per day, five days a week. Wallenda’s gandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell to his death while performing a tightrope act between two buildings in Puerto Rico in 1978.
Wallenda’s Chicago stunt is his first since he became the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon on a wire in June of 2013, taking 22 minutes and 25 seconds to make it across the 1,400-foot tightrope.