There was tension in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, as Phil Heath and Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay stood on the stage and waited for the final results of the 2017 Mr. Olympia bodybuilding championship to be announced Saturday.
The two competitors stood close to each other after going through one last pose-off with the other three finalists, and event organizers brought out action movie star and noted body-building enthusiast Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to announce the winner.
As Johnson stretched out his announcement and raised the tension level higher, both competitors waited for the moment. Finally, Johnson gave the result as if it were a prize fight and told the crowd and the participants that Heath had won his seventh title.
Heath punched the air in exultation, shook hands and hugged Big Ramy and then put his hands on his knees. Eventually he would sink to the floor in what appeared to be emotional exhaustion.
Heath earned the Eugen Sandow Trophy that goes to the winner and $400,000 for his efforts. The trophy is named for a German bodybuilder and is known as "The Sandow" to the sport's followers.
Big Ramy was eventually escorted off the stage while Heath spoke to the crowd, and his remarks on the live-stream event started with his humble beginnings as a failed basketball player who needed a new sport as an outlet.
He found bodybuilding, and he said his success was the product of hard work. "I would always find myself in the gym, no matter what else was happening in my life," Heath explained on the live stream. "Good day, bad day, I was always in the gym working, and that's how I was able to find my way in this sport."
Elssbiay earned $150,000 for his second-place finish, while William Bonac brought home $100,000 for his third-place showing. Veteran Dexter "The Blade" Jackson finished fourth, and the 48-year-old took home $55,000, while Shawn Rhoden was fifth and received a check for $45,000.
Heath joined the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger as a seven-time champion, and Heath clearly has great admiration for the former California governor and action-film hero, calling him the greatest bodybuilder of all-time on the live-stream broadcast of the event.
Heath is likely to try for an eighth Mr. Olympia crown in 2018, and if he can get it, he will join Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman as the event's only eight-time winners.
However, Elssbiay also promised to be back, and he said he would earn his first title next year.
The challenge has been made. Heath knows that Big Ramy is a tough competitor who may be even stronger next year.
Bodybuilding fans have something they can look forward to over the next 365 days.