Tightrope walking legend Nik Wallenda is at it again, this time planning to walk a highline 25 stories above Times Square with his sister Lijana. We’ve got five things to know about him.
Nik Wallenda and his nerves of steel will be pulling off his latest tightrope walk on ABC’s Highwire Live airing on Sunday, June 23. The 40-year-old and his sister Lijana will each start from opposing skyscrapers 25 stories above New York City’s Times Square. They’ll be about 1,000 feet off the ground as they go between 1 Times Square and 2 Times Square, meeting in the middle where Lijana will crouch down and Nik will walk over her as they complete the rest of the tight rope walk. We’ve got five things to know about Nik.
1. Nik is a seventh generation member of the famed acrobatic Wallenda family.
He can trace his lineage back to European circus performers since the 1700s. He’s a direct descent of Karl Wallenda, his great grandfather who started the famed Flying Wallendas aerialist troupe in the 1920’s. Nik has called Karl his “biggest hero in life.” He sadly died at the age of 73 in a tightrope accident in Puerto Rico.
2. Nik learned to walk a tightrope on his own by the age of four.
His parents Delilah Wallenda and Terry Troffer had a circus act and he first tried walking on a tightrope assisted by his mom holding his hand at the age of two. His father worked on the craft with him and by four he could walk a tightrope unassisted, albeit two feet off the ground for safety purposes.
— Highwire LIVE (@HighwireLIVE) June 24, 2019
3. Nik almost became a doctor.
While Nik made his professional tightrope walking debut at 13,, circuses began to lose their popularity and his parents encouraged him to attend college after he graduated from high school. He was accepted to college with thoughts about becoming a doctor, but changed his mind in 1998 when alongside his family members, he helped recreate Karl Wallenda’s elaborate seven-person pyramid and decided to make tightrope walking his profession.
4. Nik became the first person to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls.
In a dream he had since childhood, Nik walked 1,800 feet across the widest part of the falls from the American to the Canadian side in 2012. Since it was being broadcast live on ABC in the U.S., they required him to wear a safety harness so viewers wouldn’t watch him fall to his death from the slippery cable. After the successful crossing, he said it was far more difficult than he expected, as the mist made it hard to see at times and would push him in different directions. He followed it up the feat the following year when in 2013 he walked a 1,500 feet line across a gorge in the Grand Canyon that was televised live worldwide by The Discovery Channel.
5. Nik has deep Christian faith.
During his live tightrope walks he can always be heard praying and talking to Jesus.