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Eric Middleton and his bug snacks head to Stage Two

Matt and Akbar better be hungry.

Can we please give Eric Middleton a round of applause for providing some of the most entertaining American Ninja Warrior runs this season? Not because of anything wacky he did on the course, but because of what he inspired in Matt and Akbar.

This is Eric’s third season on the show, and his third trip to the National Finals. Last year, he made it all the way to Stage Two. As a passionate Entomology student, Eric brought his love of bugs to the course in an interesting way. For every buzzer he hit, Matt and Akbar had to eat a bug.

In the Minneapolis Qualifiers, Eric hit the buzzer and they chowed down on a fried tarantula. In the City Finals, he fell on the Iron Maiden, so he decided to eat the mealworm lollipop himself (Much to Kristine Leahy’s chagrin). In the National Finals, he put a candied scorpion on the line for Stage One. After a great run, we were treated to these faces from the hosts.

While we anxiously await to see what’s going to happen on Stage Two (Matt, Akbar, we’re a little scared for you), get to know Ninja Eric Middleton a bit better!

“Being on American Ninja Warrior has given me a bit of a platform to talk about Entomology. To spread my love of insects to other places. Which I think is pretty cool. Additionally, I’ve been trying to push Entomophagy, which is eating insects. A cricket is too small to show up well on camera. You gotta think of something bigger.”

“One of the reasons I tend to do well on Ninja courses and in local competitions is because I have a pretty good mental game. Stuff doesn’t seem to affect me. I don’t know why, exactly. But I’m very lucky that seems to be the case. When I’m up there I’m very nervous and then as soon as I start, it’s all good.”

“Practicing courses were you’re trying stuff new that you’ve never tried before is incredibly important. Not just physically, but mostly mentally. You encounter obstacles you’ve never done. You encounter scenarios that you weren’t expecting. Unexpected things happen. It’s really important to be able to adapt to that.”

Clearly, Eric hasn’t has much trouble adapting this season. He’ll head into Stage Two on September 10. Matt and Akbar better save their appetites...