It was 4:30 a.m. and Josh Levin was exhausted. His legs “felt like Jell-O,” and he was concerned he’d spent too much time warming up and not enough time resting. But the Northeastern senior and champion rock climber would not be denied.
Levin beat every obstacle in stage one of the American Ninja Warrior Las Vegas finals, which aired on NBC a week ago. Now, on Monday night when the finale of the show airs, the Northeastern community—and millions of viewers nationwide—will find out if he completes stages two through four and wins the title of “American Ninja Warrior” and the top prize of $1 million.
Northeastern is hosting a viewing party in the Curry Student Center Indoor Quad on Monday from 8-10 p.m. Levin, who will be in attendance, said he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, friends, and the entire Northeastern community throughout his incredible journey.
“It feels great to have the support of campus behind me,” said Levin, who is a mechanical engineering major and co-founder of the Northeastern Climbing Team. At the stage one viewing party, “there were so many people I’d never met, including incoming freshmen, and they were all cheering.”
Contestants on the show, which is now in its eighth season, must overcome a series of difficult obstacle courses. Levin previously advanced through the Los Angeles city qualifier and city finals rounds to make it to the Las Vegas finals.
Levin finished stage one with less than eight seconds to spare, though he sped through several of the early obstacles and took his time toward the end to make sure he executed his every move. Still, there were some dicey moments. One came while he ran up the so-called warped wall. His leg buckled and he nearly didn’t get enough momentum to leap and grab the top of the wall and climb up. He credits a new pair of sneakers, which he’d bought the day before, with rescuing him. “That’s the only thing that saved me from eating it right into the wall,” he said.
Levin has captured 19 national championships in climbing and attributes much of his success and passion to his mentor, Stacey Li Collver. In 2003 she was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease and is on the wait list for a second double-lung transplant. Levin said appearing on American Ninja Warrior has provided a national platform to bring greater awareness to organ donation and promote Donate Life America, a nonprofit committed to that cause. In his application video for the show, Levin said, “She’s the biggest inspiration in my life, and I want to win this for her.”