If you're a fan of bodybuilding, you understood, appreciated and enjoyed the 2015 Mr. Olympia competition that took place Saturday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

If you're not a fan of bodybuilding, it's time you became one because you're missing some incredible sights, sounds, events, people, experiences and exciting finishes.

As the reigning four time Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath told us at our Lunch & Learn Sports Business Luncheon in February that he's aiming for 10 titles. Why not? "The Gift" is something special and in order to be the champ, you first must BEAT the champ, which no one has done in four years. Phil, however, did just that when he defeated Jay Cutler in 2011 for his first title, earning $200,000 for the win. Four years later Phil was still undefeated and the stakes were raised in this year's contest as the top prize was elevated to $400,000. 

For those who were in attendance or watched the live stream, you knew how close it was. Dexter "The Blade" Jackson, who at 45 looks as sharp as ever, looked good in pre-judging and in his individual routine and then seemed to become even stronger as the top 10 were called out to the stage. After some re-positioning by the judges, fans started to get excited as Phil, Dexter, Shawn Rhoden and Dennis Wolf were unofficially placed in the top 4 positions. Joining them on stage were fan favorite and 315 pounder Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay (5th), Branch Warren (6th), Roelly Winklaar (7th), William Bonac (8th), Victor Martinez (9th) and Essa Obaid (10th).

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(Photo credit: James Lavallee)


Then the fun began with the pose off, as the athletes left the stage and mixed in with the crowd, posing on chairs, hitting their "most muscular" to the delight of the fans, posing for selfies, getting kisses and hugs and generally reciprocating the love that fans showed for them by literally reaching out and touching them. The crowd didn't care about the sweat or spray tan rubbing off because this is what they came to see; their favorite bodybuilders, the best in the world, up close and personal.

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(Photo credit: James Lavallee)


What other sport allows fans to get that close to their favorite athletes, especially during a competition? What athlete willingly interacts with fans while the competition is going on, stops to take photos, walks around, takes some more photos and then does it again? That's what this sport does; it brings fans closer to their inspirations than any other sport, and if you've attended a bodybuilding event, you'll understand what I mean when I say inspiration. The lifestyles they lead, their training regimes, their meal prep, their encouragement, their drive. It's passion that can inspire and consume positively. It can change people's lives for the better and at the pinnacle are these ten men who traveled, dieted, trained and pushed themselves to exhaustion for an entire year for a chance to walk the Olympia stage and win the coveted Sandow trophy.

After announcing the winners of positions 10-4, we were left with three finalists- Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson and Shawn Rhoden. And it was close. Very close.

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(Photo credit: James Lavallee)


Phil seemed to have the edge, yet Shawn looked strong and Dexter appeared to get even stronger with each pose. After host Bob Cicherillo announced that 3rd place went to a visibly exhausted and disappointed Shawn Rhoden (he's finished 3rd, 4th, 3rd and 3rd in the last four Olympias and he lost to Dexter by 1 point this year), it came down to Phil and Dexter. That's when the tension mounted and the cheers got louder with every second that Cicherillo let expire as he traditionally does, making fans even more excited, nervous and anxious. The sold out arena cheered for the Champ, but the haters, and Kai Greene fans, booed him mercilessly as well. While this tug of war was playing out, Dexter's fans were screaming his name, blowing out many ear drums in the process.

So it came down to two.

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(Photo credit: James Lavallee)


After a long two minutes, the decision was announced and Phil Heath became the first man to win five Sandow trophies in a row since the great Ronnie Coleman. Raising his hands in triumph and exchanging a hug and some complimentary words with Dexter, he then stood with Cicherillo and thanked his parents, saying that he neglected to thank them in previous competitions. You could see the excitement in his face, the exhaustion in his body and when he took a knee behind the trophy, the true meaning of the victory.

For those that don't understand why it's so meaningful, imagine devoting all of your time for an entire year with the single goal of crafting your body to it's ultimate build so that for one night, on one stage, you're the best in the world. Not over a season of games and then the post-season; no.

One night.

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(Photo credit: James Lavallee)


At the event's conclusion, Phil stood on stage with the other Olympia Champions (Flex Wheeler, 212 Champ; Jeremy Buendia, Men's Physique; Latorya Watts, Figure; Juliana Malacarne, Physique; Oksana Grishina, Fitness and Ashley Kaltwasser, Bikini), celebrating their individual accomplishments with everyone in attendance. And for the five time Champ Phil Heath, it's $400,000, another step closer to Arnold, Haney and Coleman and a journey halfway completed in the quest for ten.

A special thanks to Robin Chang and Mercy Safayan for organizing an amazing event and allowing us to be part of it. And congrats to Phil and all of the competitors. We look forward to seeing you all back on stage again next year!