‘American Ninja Warrior’ Host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila on Why NBC Got ‘Pissed Off’ (Exclusive Video)

“I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this,” star tells TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell

“American Ninja Warrior” host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila says that NBC demanded a tougher obstacle course after the show’s seventh season.

“I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but I think NBC was pissed off at the highest level of piss-tivity,” Gbaja-Biamila told TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell during a new installment of “Drinking With the Stars.”

“They had to cut a $1 million check last year,” he said. “Last year was the first winner we’ve ever had. You’re talking about seven seasons at the time. No one had ever won. … They said, ‘You know what? We ain’t writing a check next year. We’re going to make this hard.'”

With only one episode to go this season, all eyes are on Jessie Graff, the first woman in the history of the show to make it to Stage 2. Gbaja-Biamila says that he “genuinely [believes]” that this is the year for women on the show.

The host and former pro football player also has an idea or two about why the show has remained a consistent summer ratings winner.

“[A lot] of it, too, has to do with the personalities,” he said. “We have superheroes, we have moms and then we have some stories that people can relate to. People who are just recovering from chemotherapy and cancer. You have the mom who just gave birth.”

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