ESPN to Broadcast Hafthor Bjornsson’s 501kg Deadlift World Record Attempt

The heaviest deadlift attempt in human history will be aired live on May 2nd at 12pm EST.

World’s Ultimate Strongman (WUS) is hosting the world record 501kg/1,104lb deadlift attempt that will be made by 2018 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) champion and reigning 3-time Arnold Strongman Classic (ASC) champion Hafthor Bjornsson on May 2nd in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Originally, the deadlift attempt was only going to be aired via However, via a post on their Instagram page, WUS has announced that they have officially partnered with ESPN to broadcast the world record deadlift attempt throughout the United States.

“Welcoming aboard our Official TV broadcast partner ESPN bringing Hafthor “The Mountain” Bjornsson @thorbjornsson ‘s 501deadlift World Record to millions of homes across the USA……LIVE from Reykjavik, Iceland!! We are pretty sure this would be the first time in Strongman history that a Strongman event would be televised live.”

The current world deadlift record deadlift as many know is the 500kg/1,102lb pull by Eddie “The Beast” Hall from July 9th, 2016 at the World Deadlift Championships that he completed in Leeds, England in 2016. 

This will not be the first time Bjornsson has attempted to a 501kg/1,104lb deadlift.

He did so and missed at the 2019 ASC citing his left foot slipping as the reason for the failure. You can see that attempt in the video below from ROGUE Fitness’ YouTube channel:

Note: Bjornsson’s lift comes at 1:50.

Bjornsson was very close with this attempt and did so without wearing a suit like Hall did during his successful 500kg/1,102lb world record lift. When Bjornsson was interviewed by Sport360 after his failed attempt at the 2019 ASC, he said:

“[The suit] gives you about 30 kilograms at least. So this close to lifting 501 raw without a suit, I’m pretty confident that I’m able to pull 501 on a regular bar with a suit.”

At the 2020 Arnold Strongman Classic, ROGUE Fitness offered a $101,000 prize to any strongman who could complete this incredible feat of strength. Bjornsson, who already secured victory in the ROGUE elephant bar deadlift event, decided to forego the world record attempt to conserve energy for the remainder of the competition which he ultimately won.

The 501kg/1,104lb world record deadlift attempt by Bjornsson was originally going to take place at the 2020 WUS in Bahrain, however that event, like many others, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a post from March 29th on Bjornsson’s Instagram page, he made the decision to do the lift “in Iceland and alone besides a small team of under 20 people” and with 4-time WSC champion Magnús Ver Magnússon as the official referee.

The choice to attempt the world record outside of competition has not come without controversy. Eddie Hall himself said during a live Q&A that he is “not going to count it as a world record.” He explained his decision as follows:

“Thor is going for the 501kg deadlift. He is doing it in his gym. Under the circumstances, it’s tough. If I said, four years ago, if I pull 500kg in my gym with my weights and my sponsors pushing it, supplying the weights, giving the prize money, giving me the live stream — if I did that four years ago in my gym, people would call it bullshit, referee there or not. It’s a tough one.”

4-time WSM champion Brian Shaw also weighed in on Bjornsson making the world record attempt in his home gym via the video below from his YouTube channel:

Note: Bolding done by BarBend editorial team for emphasis.

When it comes to this record, in my opinion, it needs to be done in a competition. When you are in a competition and there are however many other men competing alongside you, you do not get to determine exactly when you go to lift. In a training setting, you absolutely get to time it out…to be ready for that lift; mentally prepare for it, get ready for it. In a contest, sometimes that all goes out the window and when they call your name and the bar is loaded, you have to go whether you’re ready or not.

If we start to allow strongman records to be set in gyms with that [strongman]’s equipment, we’re opening Pandora’s box even more when it comes all these strongman world records and it’s only going to create more controversy. In my opinion, if Eddie Hall in 2016 would have said, “Hey guys, I’m going to steam it from my gym and I’m going to call it a world record.” I would have said, “Nope. That doesn’t count, you have to do it in competition.” You can even call it an unofficial world record. As far as calling it a world record…you cannot call it a world record lift if you do it in your home gym.”

Despite the controversy that may ensue, Bjornsson will attempt the 501kg/1,104lb deadlift and has been preparing for it in training. Most recently, he shared a video of a 440kg/970lb deadlift triple on his Instagram page that can be seen below:

“Easy 440kg x 3 reps! 501 I’m coming for you!!”

With regard to the news that ESPN is the official TV broadcast partner for the deadlift attempt, Bjornsson said:

“It’s an honour to be able to help bring the sport of strongman forward during such unsure and unprecedented times.”

Feature image via Hafthor Bjornsson’s Instagram page: @thorbjornsson