‘American Ninja Warrior’: The Island Ninja Returns, Plus Meet 8 New Warrior Hopefuls

Kelly Woo
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

American Ninja Warrior contestant Grant McCartney has always been nimble on his feet — this is the guy who danced on Ellen — but can those feet be as quick as they are graceful?

McCartney, a flight attendant who lives in Honolulu, is trying to master the Ninja course once again. He came oh-so-close last year, but fell in Stage 2 of the finals for the second year in a row. In this sneak peek clip from the season premiere, he’s back for a qualifying run in Los Angeles. The announcers describe him with “always a smile on his face, but a beast of a competitor.”  And of course, he’s sporting his “Island Ninja” shirt.

As he dashes through obstacles like the cannonball drop , they exclaim over his speed. “This is a different Grant McCartney!” New year, new Grant … new victory dance? We’ll find out next week.

In addition to everyone’s favorite Island Ninja, here are 8 more Warrior hopefuls going for the title this season:

Josh Levin
Josh Levin, from Sunnyvale, CA, is studying mechanical engineering at Northeastern University. He interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2015 and worked closely with the team designing the Mars 2020 Rover. He is the most decorated Youth Rock Climber in USA climbing history (19 youth championships).

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Anthony Trucks
Anthony Trucks is a former NFL Linebacker (Buccaneers, Redskins, Steelers) and current motivational speaker and business coach. He was placed into foster care at age 3 and endured horrible treatment before being adopted at age 14. He now resides in Antioch, CA.

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Nick “Eskimo Ninja” Hanson
Unalakleet, Alaska native Nick “Eskimo Ninja” Hanson is a motivational speaker being honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award this year by the Alaskan First Lady for his work with youth in the state. He and his family and village live mainly off of what the land provides.

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Adam Rayl
Adam Rayl is an artisan/fabricator of concrete tabletops in the family business. Rayl is from Phoenix, Arizona. He was a competitive gymnast from ages 8 to 12 and earned a spot in Future Stars, an elite Olympic prepatory program. 

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Natalie Duran
Natalie Duran is a former clinical researcher for UCLA and a YouTube sensation for her rock-climbing ability. She was awarded a “play button” from You Tube for earning 100,000 subscribers and has over 61 plus million views on You Tube.

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Tiana Webberley
Tiana Webberley is a model and stunt woman. An NCAA Athlete (Pole Vault) at Cal State Northridge; D1 Regional Championships all four years! 

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Zhanique Lovett
Zhanique Lovett is a personal trainer and boot camp instructor. She is a mother of 3 and a competitive body builder who won 1st place at the San Francisco Championship figure Class D. 

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

Flip Rodriquez
Flip Rodriguez is a returning competitor to American Ninja Warrior and a fan favorite. Originally from Miami and now lives in Los Angeles where he is a very busy stunt performer. He overcame an abusive childhood (which he revealed on last season’s show) and through his work on American Ninja Warrior he has become an inspiration to thousands of children. (

(Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

American Ninja Warrior premieres Monday, June 12 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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