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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 coresports.world. 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

14 thoughts on “ESPN to Broadcast Hafthor Bjornsson’s 501kg Deadlift World Record Attempt”

  1. this is not an official world strongman competition,so this is not valid. it is so easy to fake weights for this lift. very sneeky, no other strongman would publicise this,it is embarrassing. completely wrong.

  2. Hall called Julius Maddox the bench press world record holder.
    Was his record pressed in a competition? Were there other athletes competing?
    When it suits him he tells this, and otherwise he tells that…
    If the weights are real, it’s a world record to me.
    And most other strongman will recognise this record.
    Looking forward to tomorrow, let’s see what happens.

  3. Hall called Julius Maddox the bench press world record holder.
    Was his record pressed in a competition? Were there other athletes competing?
    When it suits him he tells this, and otherwise he tells that…
    If the weights are real, it’s a world record to me.
    And most other strongman will recognise this record.
    Looking forward to tomorrow, let’s see what happens.

  4. So ESPN . Are we nowgoi g to count 70 yard field goals done on pratice field as NFL records. It’s a gym record .who cares. Everybody can lift more in their own gym… This is bullshit. . So now all sports will have records done outside of actual competition on pratice fields …what a joke.. berry bad for sport of strongman..maks sport loose credibility. Bullshit ..ESPN bullshit

  5. It’s a dam gym lift. Who cares what he lifts in the gym ..ESPN.. . this is bullshit. Needs to be a real deadlift .in a real contest .without straps to be a deadlift world record. This is a gym record .

    • Why without the straps? Eddy’s 500kg was with straps.
      500kgs, is the same, regardless where on Earth it is (technically there are minor gravitational variations.)
      It’s being judged my the most respected judge in the business.

  6. “A lot of people are not realizing that Thor is not choosing to pull 501kg in his gym. He is forced to due to the worlds circumstances”

    Seriously? Do you think Thor is at all upset about this glorious opportunity to do it under his own control at his leisure at his own gym, without a crowd, without any pressure from other competitiors or time limits…come on man. Opening Pandoras box with this, going

    • “Seriously? Do you think Thor is at all upset about this glorious opportunity to do it under his own control at his leisure at his own gym, without a crowd, without any pressure from other competitiors or time limits…”

      I honestly don’t think he gives a shit where he lifts it. He had signed up to do it in Bahrain before the epidemic hit, so it’s not like he was trying to duck and hide. After watching him earlier today ANNIHILATE 470kg as his last heavy lift before the 501kg, when he sets the world record on May 2nd it’ll look so easy that there will be zero doubt that the circumstances on where and when he does the lift wouldn’t matter in the slightest.

      As for pressure….bullshit. There is no pressure from other competitors, there’s nobody on planet earth aside from him anywhere close to a 500kg deadlift at the moment. Time limits?….bullshit as well. Eddie Hall had NO time limits when he did his lift. He got to control the timing of each lift and went when he was ready. Thor on the other hand will be strictly timed. When he gets the go-ahead, he has to go.

      Eddie made his lift in front of a hugely supportive home crowd a few minutes from his house while Thor will make his lift live on ESPN in front of millions of random people. Way more pressure….

      It’ll be recognized as a 100% legitimate lift and the reason I know it will be is that after he makes it nobody will try for the 501kg regardless of any talk of “legitimate”. They’ll go for 502kg because everybody will know that the 501kg will already have been done.

    • Performing in front of a crowd is better in my experience.
      He’s the world’s strongest man, multiple Arnold winner, of course you want to do that in front of an audience that likes lifting.
      Just like singers would prefer to perform in front of people.

  7. under the circumstances this should count as a world record . A lot of people are not realizing that Thor is not choosing to pull 501kg in his gym. He is forced to due to the worlds circumstances. Everyone bringing up these examples about how people are breaking records in their gyms all the time, well when they broke those records there wasn’t a pandemic threatening the lives of so many people. Also many people are saying that he should wait and pull 501 when there is another competition, if he did that he would be throwing away the peak of his strength and his career out the window. He is so strong right now, that is why he is pulling 501.

  8. Under the circumstances, this should count as a world record. I feel a lot of people are forgetting that Thor is not choosing to pull 501kg in his gym. He is forced to due to the worlds circumstances. Many people are saying he should wait and do it when there is another competition, but he is at his peak strength right now, so if he did wait, he would be throwing so much out the window.

  9. A very detailed article explaining the whole situation, Phil. I think these are very interesting times. The last week or so has sparked a lot of controversy on this topic with a lot of people weighing in their opinions. Looking forward to May 2nd and what that bring.

  10. This doesn’t count for shit! There are people all over the globe breaking records in their gyms. I myself have beaten the Viking press record in mine but it doesn’t count does it? Unless it’s done at an official competition it cannot be classed as an official world record. Same old Thor trying to bully his way into getting a result like he does every year at the WSM. Pathetic

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