Tightrope stud Nik Wallenda has estimated that a billion people around the globe will watch his Niagara Falls walk tonight on live TV (with a five-second delay). We’re told this afternoon that people are being charged $75 to park for the spectacle. Would a professional like Wallenda want to disappoint his fans via a harness that’ll be attached to him? Our Buffalo insiders (BC’s Daily WTF Editor Matt) get the sense that Wallenda just might ditch the harness.
Is that even possible? Yes, it is.
According to Canada’s National Post, Walleneda has contractually agreed to wear the harness (or tether, if you will) in order to allow the tightrope walk to go forward on ABC. But, that doesn’t mean he can’t take if off.
Wallenda defended the harness, saying that despite the safety measure “it will still be an amazing spectacle” and it doesn’t “really take away from the event.”
Others wonder if he’ll remove the safety harness.
“I bet he’s going to do it,” local historian Paul Gromosiak said.
Safety teams are ready for any accident. If Wallenda slips, the harness will save him, and he can climb up again. If he loses his balancing pole, however, he’ll have to be rescued.
He says the safety harness is agreed to and won’t come off.
“I’m a man of my word and if I say I’ll do something and agree to it,” he said. “The only way that it would come off would be if it was a security or safety issue.”
However, last night Wallenda changed his tune about the harness and said last night that it’s “uncomfortable,” according to Canada’s CTV. The harness, additional camera gear, microphones and his balance pole will add an extra 78 pounds, Wallenda said.
Wallenda has been performing on wires since he was two. He also set a Guinness world record in 2008 for the longest distance and greatest height ever traveled by bicycle on a high wire. Wallenda walked 150 feet out on a high wire from the roof of Newark, N.J.’s Prudential Building, suspended 20 stories over the street without a safety net. He returned on a bicycle for the Guinness World Record.
The guy even calls himself the King of the High Wire. But people aren’t buying the hype, a worst-case scenario for a guy who has been dreaming of this walk his whole life. He’s spent the better part of the last year working through political hurdles to make this event happen, telling NPR last summer: “One thing that I pride myself on is, everything that I do is completely legit,” he says. “We go through every channel, and do it the proper way.”
Perhaps Wallenda has had it in his head the whole time to dump the harness. What’s the worst thing that would happen to Wallenda? ABC doesn’t pay him?