It’s not precisely on par with the Olympia contest, but the annual Arnold Classic (AC) arguably holds as much prestige and influence, being considered one of the major contests on the bodybuilding calendar. When some of the world’s best bodybuilders travel to Columbus, OH, to take the stage on Mar. 3-4, 2023 for the latest edition, they can take solace in knowing one thing. A victory will be rewarded more handsomely than ever.
On Jan. 12, 2023, the Arnold Sports Festival organizing body put out a press release on their website and posted to Instagram announcing the prize for winning the Men’s Open division at the 2023 AC will be $300,000. That is a $100,000 increase from the $200,000 reigning AC winner Brandon Curry took home in 2022. It builds on a significant increase from previous years when former champion Nick Walker won $130,000 after the 2021 iteration, and inches closer to the $400,000 top prize earned by Hadi Choopan after winning the 2022 Mr. Olympia.
In the press release, Arnold Schwarzenegger elaborated on the significance of the growth of the Arnold Classic.
“From the first time we hosted a bodybuilding championship in Columbus in 1976, my goal has been increasing the prize money to reward these fantastic athletes,” Schwarzenegger said. “I am excited to announce that this year’s winner of the Arnold Classic will win a record $300,000.”
As for who will travel to Ohio to vie for the newest AC title, a few past champions, big names, and up-and-comers highlight the Men’s Open. On Jan. 12, 2023, the organization revealed that Nick Walker would return to the 2023 AC and the contest that arguably first helped him build his sterling reputation in professional bodybuilding. Past winner (2018, 2020) William Bonac will also return to the Columbus stage. Meanwhile, two-time 212 Olympia winner Shaun Clarida (2020, 2022) will try to challenge both men. Other confirmed Men’s Open competitors include Samson Dauda, Kamal Elgargni, Justin Rodriguez, and Akim Williams.
Notably, a recent cadre of elite bodybuilders revealed they had either withdrawn or declined their invitations to the 2023 Arnold Classic. At the time of this writing, that group features the second-place finisher at the 2022 Mr. Olympia in Derek Lunsford, Blessing Awodibu, and Michal “Križo” Križánek.
As the 2023 competitive bodybuilding season develops, the 2023 Arnold Classic will undoubtedly be one of the first significant steps toward making it a year to remember. Eventually, one focused athlete with incredible mass and a ripped physique will have the great fortune of leaving Columbus, OH, $300,000 richer for their diligent efforts.
Featured Image: @nick_walker39 / Instagram