It turns out that putting your life on the line on live TV pays pretty well, but probably not enough to tempt many people to quit their day jobs.
Nik Wallenda is worth $4 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. How much does a person make for walking across an active volcano on a tightrope? Wallenda will be taking home a nice paycheck after “Volcano Live!,” which airs on ABC at 8 p.m. EST on ABC Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Wallenda is facing obstacles never before faced in the walk across the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Wallenda was not born into wealth and gained financial success only after starting a family. When his first child was born, he and his wife, Erindira Wallenda, lived with his parents and he worked at a restaurant to make ends meet, he wrote in his memoir, “Balance.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nik Wallenda Is Paid $500,000 for Each Major Stunt
Nik Wallenda is paid $500,000 for each of his major stunts, according to Celebrity Net Worth, which means he is probably being paid about that much for his walk across the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It’s a nice paycheck, but maybe not enough to risk falling into lava on an 1,800-foot walk.
The 41 year old is from Sarasota, Florida and a member of the seventh generation of aerialists who make up The Flying Wallendas. His grandfather, Karl Wallenda, died March 22, 1978 while attempting to cross between two buildings in Puerto Rico. He was 73. His sister, Lijana Wallenda, was seriously injured in a fall in 2017 during a rehearsal for Circus Sarasota. She was part of an eight-person pyramid when the group tumbled. Four other people were also injured.Her 40-foot fall nearly killed her. It took 72 screws and three plates to repair her face after the fall broke every bone in it. Several other bones were also shattered.
Wallenda’s volcano walk is his highest and longest yet, and he is facing brand new obstacles like poisonous gases that make the wire slippery and cut down on his oxygen levels. He’s wearing a gas mask to protect him from the poisonous gases, and he’ll be facing temperatures of about 150 degrees, he said on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan.
2. Nik Wallenda Carries a $20 Million Public Liability Policy in Case of an Accident That Hurts a Bystander
Nik Wallenda has a $20 million public liability policy, he told Macleans in 2011. That insurance would cover a member of the public if they were ever hurt during one of his stunts.
“We have a $20-million insurance policy. We’ve never had to draw on it,” he said.
He talked to the Canadian magazine about his team’s desire to keep his high-risk job from having any negative impacts on the public. If he was ever hurt, he said he would rely on his own rescue team, not call on emergency responders.
“We have our own rescue team. We even have a diver,” he said.
The interview came in advance of his momentous Niagara Falls walk. He said it is important to his team that they never leave a trace behind or cause any negative environmental impacts.
“We take great pride in being a zero-impact operation,” he said. “We don’t drill into any rock or pull up any grass. We’ll use cranes, and we’re trying to arrange the rigging so no cable will even touch the water when we set up. Maid of the Mist, I would hope, would continue to run. You’ll never know we were there.”
3. Nik Wallenda Owns a 15-Acre Property in Sarasota With a High-Wire in the Yard
Nik Wallenda owns a “sprawling” 15-acre property in Sarasota, Florida, according to ABC 7 WWSB. In every corner are touches of his circus background. The news station wrote a profile about Wallenda in 2019, describing him as a family man.
“When you arrive at Nik Wallenda’s sprawling 15-acre property, there’s something going on at every turn. His sister’s son is playing in the driveway, a colleague is working in the garage, and inside the house, Nik is being a father and husband in the kitchen,” the article said. “At every turn inside his house, there’s something that lets you know the head of the household comes from a circus background. From the centerpiece in the dining room, to the wall hangings, to his office, which leaves no doubt you’re in Nik Wallenda’s home.”
The article described his home as “the home of his dreams,” in a rural neighborhood east of the interstate. In his backyard was a 750-foot wire, and, at the time of the article, he had plans to build a building to allow for indoor training.
“We’re putting up a 20,000-square foot building soon that will allow indoor training because of our weather being so strange here,” he said.
His sister, Lijana Wallenda, used the wire for her practice runs before her Times Square walk with Nik Wallenda in June, 2019. It was her first time returning to a high wire after her fall in 2017 which seriously injured her and nearly killed her. Lijana Wallenda is Nik Wallenda’s only sister. She is a single mom who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
4. Nik Wallenda & His Wife, Erendira Wallenda, Lived in an RV With Three Children Before his Success
Before Nik Wallenda reached worldwide success, he and his wife, Erendira Wallenda, lived a transient life on a budget. They had three children living in an RV and travelling for performances.
“We lived in an RV until I was 26. We had three kids so, I talk about it in my book that my marriage almost ended because of that,” he told ABC 7 WWSB.
When they had their first child, he was working at a restaurant to make ends meet and living with his parents, he wrote in his memoir, “Balance.”
“Six months after the birth of our first son, Yanni – another one of God’s miraculous blessings – Erindira is ready to return to performing. Because of financial constraints, we’re living with my parents. The same constraints have kept me working at First Watch restaurant 40 hours a week in addition to whatever occasional bookings we can get. As usual, money is tight and tensions are high,” he wrote.
He went on to say that his wife would tell him she was beside him, and they shared a dream of performing together. That dream will come to fruition during Volcano Live! as the husband and wife duo perform together.
5. Nik Wallenda Faced Jealousy From His Family Over His Financial Successes
Nik Wallenda was shocked by his financial successes, as were members of his family. But some members of the Flying Wallendas were not happy over his success, as many members of the family were fighting to make names for themselves.
“I pinch myself. I never imagined I’d be this blessed,” Wallenda told ABC 7 WWSB. “To still live here and have everything I want.”
However, he said he is no longer close with some of the members of his highly competitive family because of his success.
“Ask any successful person that, and that’s your answer. I have been blessed with a platform beyond my wildest dreams. Never has there been a circus performer with TV specials, so I’m blessed, but with that I lost a lot of people, including people who I thought would be my closest friends for the rest of my life,” he told ABC 7.
Wallenda also wrote about that competition in his book, “Balance,” as he was fighting for success as an aerialist. At the time, he was starting a family while living with his wife and parents and working at a restaurant.
‘Be careful,’ says my father. ‘The market is dwindling. I don’t see it getting any better. Plus other Wallendas are out there pushing their brands.’
‘They can be more than competitive,’ adds Mom. ‘They can be vicious. I hate to say this about my own relatives, but I know them well. They’re my blood. And in our family history, there’s bad blood everywhere you look.’