March 5, 2020 | 9:25am | Updated March 5, 2020 | 11:05am
Nik Wallenda’s disgruntled fans are holding his toes to the fire.
The American daredevil’s record-making tightrope walk over an active Nicaragua volcano turned sour Wednesday after he was torched on Twitter for wearing a safety harness during ABC’s “Volcano Live!” special.
Wallenda, 41, became the first man to ever traverse an active volcano by high wire when he stepped across the 1,800-foot-wide “mouth of hell” crater atop the Masaya Volcano. The stunt took the Sarasota, Fla., native around 30 minutes, during which he had to navigate noxious fumes, unpredictable wind gusts and, of course, the roiling lake of lava below.
“There’s no better feeling than wrapping your arms around your family after a moment like that!” tweeted the overjoyed aerialist upon completing his high-flying fire walk.
However, not everyone was impressed: Wallenda is feeling the heat on social media for wearing safety gear during the caldera crossing.
“Wait, so #nikwallenda has a safety harness connected to another wire? C’mon on man, I thought this was supposed to be risky and suspenseful,” Tweeted one disappointed fan.
“End Nik Wallenda 2020. So sick of this dude and his safety harnesses,” added Barstool Sports’ KFC Radio account in reference to the performer wearing protective gear during prior wire walks.
A scene from "Volcano Live! With Nik Wallenda" on ABC.
Nik Wallenda embraces his wife and fellow stunt performer, Erendira Wallenda.
Wallenda's wife, Erendira, opens the show with a high-flying hula hoop performance above the lava lake.
However, some flocked to the acrobat’s defense: “Yeah, there’s a harness, but I think y’all forget that this isn’t about the harness for Nik Wallenda,” commented one Wallenda supporter. “The walk & all of the others are about Nik overcoming his fears & having the strength to make it across without slipping & withstanding the heat & wind.”
Responding to critics, Wallenda told Sarasota’s Herald Tribune that ABC insisted he don protective gear. “That’s for ABC,” the high-wire artist explained, adding that ABC also made him wear a harness for his 2019 wire walk in Times Square.
During his Mayasa Volcano walk, Wallenda also donned protective goggles and a respirator to protect himself from the toxic gases, but he removed the goggles about halfway through the stunt.
It suffices to say, this isn’t Wallenda’s first rodeo. The aerial artist, who is the seventh generation of the legendary Great Wallendas family of stunt performers, successfully wire-walked across Niagara Falls and crossed between two Chicago buildings while blindfolded.
Not all of his family members have been as fortunate. Karl Wallenda, Nik’s great-grandfather, notably plummeted to his death in 1978 while tightrope-walking between two towers sans safety equipment in San Juan, Puerto Rico.