Mr. Olympia is the most famous bodybuilding competition in the world.
Each year, hopeful competitors from around the world compete to win the $400,000 first place prize. But you already knew that.
Here are a few Mr. Olympia facts things you might not know:
Joe Weider, the founder of Mr. Olympia, was having a beer with Larry Scott.
Weider was trying to convince the eventual winner of the inaugural competition to enter a bodybuilding event that he was starting.
When Weider was asked the name of event, (which he hadn’t yet named) he pondered for a few moments whilst supping a beer made by the Olympia Brewing Company.
And so the name ‘Mr. Olympia’ as conceived.
Modeled on the father of modern bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow, the Mr. Olympia trophy was sculpted by Frederick Pomeroy.
Sandow went on to use his own effigy as a prize for the top competitors in, “The Great Competition,” the first ever bodybuilding event.
As of 2018, with a 53 year history and competitions in 11 countries, there have only been 13 Mr. Olympia winners.
Namely, Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Heath, Dorian Yates, Jay Cutler, Frank Zane, Sergo Oliva, Franco Columbu, Larry Scott, Dexter Jackson, Samir Bannout, and Dexter Jackson are the only men to have scaled Mount Olympus and planted a flag.
Six time Mr. Olympia winner Dorian Yates revealed that he couldn’t stand being looked at in public.
In the documentary about his life, Dorian Yates: Inside the Shadows, Dorian said his physique was to impress those who knew what it took to get there, not the general public.
He later endeavoured to cover up his hard-to-miss 20-inch arms and 56-inch chest.
The Slow Beginning
From 1965 to 1973, the Mr. Olympia event averaged only 3-4 competitors per year.
In 1968, only Sergio Olivia showed up; and in 1971, Arnold Schwarzenegger was the sole competitor. Both gentleman managed to bring home trophies those years.
The Sandow Trophy was not used by the Mr. Olympia contest until 1977.
For his exquisite physique and hard work, Larry Scott received $0 and a bejewelled crown for placing first at the opening Mr. Olympia in 1965. The following year, Scott won $1,000. Sadly, no crown was given.
The Old Man From Barbados
Albert Beckles is the oldest man to ever win runner-up at Mr. Olympia. One of the most active men in bodybuilding history, he has participated in over 100 contests.
He was 55 years old when he placed behind Lee Haney in 1985.
In 1997, all bets were on Flex Wheeler to take the crown from Dorian Yates.
Yates was considered over the hill at the time, after having won the competition five years in a row.
Two nights before the competition, Wheeler reported being carjacked by men carrying guns and nun-chucks. His hand and forearm were bandaged and he was unable to compete.
Joe Weider wanted to create an opportunity for Mr. Universe winners to keep competing and winning money and it would be fair to say that he more than succeeded in his vision.
Mr. Olympia is now the most lucrative bodybuilding competition in the world, growing bigger each and every year.