Grant McCartney, American Ninja Warrior’s dancing Island Ninja, took a trip abroad for a good cause. He was asked to join in on Ninja Warrior Germany for their celebrity edition to benefit Wir Helfen Kindern (Helping Children).
The concept is similar to American Ninja Warrior: Celebrity Ninja that we’ve seen for the past two seasons on Red Nose Day: Take on the course to raise money for children. In the US, celebrities run the course with a Ninja trainer, earning money for each obstacle they complete. In the German version, the celebrity athletes are on their own, bringing in money with each stage they complete.
In 2017, American Ninja Warrior Champion Isaac Caldiero also took part in the German celebrity competition and was the last Ninja standing. Ninja Warrior Germany has been holding regular season competitions since 2016 and it airs on the German network RTL.
The event raised € 238.000 (euros) and Grant himself raised € 27.000 (about $30,465) when he beat all three stages and claimed the fastest times on each one! Stage One was worth € 7.000, Stage Two was € 10.000, and Stage Three was € 10.000.
“The opportunity came by them sending me an email,” Grant told us. “It was all broken English and had some German in there so I assumed it was a Spam email. Then they sent another. I was intrigued but knew nothing about German Ninja Warrior. Jamie Rahn mentioned to me they reached out to him as well. Then randomly at the NNL Final this year I got to talking to Issac (Caldiero), who did it last year, and he let me know it was all for real. So I followed up with them and I am so glad I did. What a fun time.”
In the video above, you can see that Grant was right at home on the international course. Many of the obstacles were similar to what he’s taken on over his time on American Ninja Warrior. In fact, he ended up teaching the other celebrities a few of his tricks.
“When it came to the course it felt very familiar. Backstage, we saw photos of the course and I noticed I had done all of the obstacles before. Then I looked even closer at the photo and realized I was in one of the example photos. It was me running the obstacles.
Of course this gave me a lot of confidence but I also felt the need to teach everyone as much as I could so we would raise as much money as possible from competed obstacles. I taught a few lessons on kipping and laches. Many of athletes learned so fast and did an amazing job, especially the Olympians.”
Grant is certainly a jet setter (just check out his Instagram page for proof of that), but this kind of travel can certainly take a toll when it comes to competition.
“The hardest challenges were the travel. We went from Hawaii, to NYC, to Dublin, to Paris, to Berlin, then finally Karlsruhe. It was so fun to travel but hard to keep the training and diet consistent. Luckily I had my manager with me to keep me on track and we trained at Crossfit gyms and rock climbing gyms in most countries. Also trying to understand the rules of the obstacles was tough when you don’t speak German. My translator did a good job, but if I broke a rule I was just going to say ‘I don’t speak German.”
“It was still very fun, like in America, but had a bit more of a competitive edge. We all wanted to do our best. Me and a Olympic discus thrower, Lars Reidel, joked around the whole time, trying to learn how to whistle really loud and telling jokes, but then we focused up when it came time to run the course. Everyone was so kind and fun though!”
To take first place, Grant had to complete one obstacle we haven’t seen him do on American Ninja Warrior: The iconic final rope climb. Showing some serious focus, Grant pulled it off in 29.3 seconds.
(He was back to his much more relaxed self almost instantly.)
“The other competitors were so inviting and fun. Philipp Boy and Fabian Hambuchen got second and third respectively and were both German Gymnastic Olympians. They were both so kind.”
“My favorite part was when we rapped filming (around 9 or 10pm) we all just went next door and had a big party. They had snacks and drinks as well as some awesome music. We all stayed around and hung out, danced, and enjoyed the end of the show. I loved getting to get to know everyone better. The TV Executive Mark Land, was awesome. He even had longboard skateboards that we were riding around the set at like 3 AM after the show.”
We have a feeling Grant got the party started by passing along some of his vast dance knowledge.