The time has come once again for 500 contestants to put their strength and endurance to the test in a series of obstacle courses on NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.” Season 8 premieres Wednesday night, and the show could crown its second $1 million winner by the time the competition comes to an end this year. Before you tune in, here’s what you should know about the latest installment of the sports-entertainment series.
1. Rounds: The June 1 premiere will kick off the qualifying rounds of Season 8 in Los Angeles. On June 8, the competition moves to Atlanta, followed by Indianapolis (June 13), Oklahoma City (June 20) and Philadelphia (June 27). There will be over 500 contestants competing across the five cities, with the finals to take place after the qualifiers.
2. Grand Prize: This season’s prize will mirror what was given away in Season 7, with the winner of this year’s competition to take home $1 million (it was raised from $500,000 to $1 million last season). In Season 7, Isaac Caldiero won the grand prize after completing Stage 4 in Las Vegas. Each contestant will take a crack at several new obstacles throughout the season.
3. Mt. Midoriyama: The finalists who make it through both the qualifying and final rounds in their designated regions will move on to the national finals round in Las Vegas. There they will have to complete a four-stage obstacle course known as Mount Midoriyama, which is based off of a course in Japan. Last season, Caldiero completed the course in 26.14 seconds.
4. Indy Contestants: The Indianapolis qualifier on June 13 will feature a few surprises. According to the Indy Star, IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Josef Newgarden will also be competing against 100 other warriors. Castroneves has appeared on a TV competition before, winning Season 5 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” The three drivers will do their best to advance to the final round of the regional qualifier and represent IndyCar.
5. Returning Hosts: The voices you heard calling last year’s action will be returning to the show for Season 8. Matt Iseman will be back alongside Akbar Gbajabiamila and Kristine Leahy. This will be Iseman’s seventh season as host and the fourth for Gbajabiamila, while Leahy enters her second.
6. Chris Kluwe: IndyCar drivers won’t be the only known contestants going into this year’s competition. Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe announced on Twitter in March that he’d be a part of Season 8. Kluwe is from Philadelphia and played eight seasons for the Vikings before retiring in 2013. He has also appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ talk show for his support of same-sex marriage.
“American Ninja Warrior” Season 8 premieres Wednesday on NBC at 8 p.m. EDT.