Jay Cutler believes that fear is one of the biggest motivating factors for returning Mr. Olympia champions.


Once you become Mr. Olympia everything changes. That might sound like hyperbole but according to Jay Cutler it’s true. Once you become the Mr. Olympia, a target is put on you back. And Cutler is not the only one to make this statement. Phil Heath also admitted as much in our previous interviews. Other athletes put a target on you. Fans put a target on you. Even the media scrutinizes you more once you become Olympia champion. So how does a bodybuilder deal with that pressure? In our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview, Jay Cutler admits that for him, it was fear of losing that drove him more than anything else.

There’s a world of difference between being a pro hungry for your first Mr. Olympia victory and a returning champion defending the title. Once you have the Mr. Olympia title, it’s something you can lose rather than something you can earn. Of course, each individual victory is an earned reward in its own right. But for the entire year after winning the Olympia, you’re referred to as “Mr. Olympia.” If you lose the next year, that goes away.

During our filming of Jay Cutler for Generation Iron 3, we asked him about the pressures he faced returning year after year as a Mr. Olympia champion. His full response couldn’t make it into the film, but now we’ve pulled it out from the cutting room floor and released it as part of our Vault series.

Somewhat surprisingly, Jay Cutler doesn’t give the stock answer as many other Olympia champions. Usually, legends like Ronnie Coleman will state that they never doubted that they could win. They state that they were confident going in that they would maintain the Mr. Olympia title. Jay Cutler didn’t feel quite the same way. Far from it.

Jay Cutler explains that for him, once he became the Mr. Olympia champion, his number one motivating factor was fear. Specifically, he was afraid of losing. He held his status as Mr. Olympia very dear. Losing it would mean losing everything that he fights for.

He also believes that this might be a universal feeling for all Mr. Olympia champions. While guys like Ronnie Coleman won’t say it out loud, Cutler thinks that they were certainly afraid of losing the title in those final moments before the victor is announced.

“I feel like the fear of losing was what drove me more than anything and I can honestly admit that,” Jay Cutler states in our interview. He continues:

“A lot of these champions would say… I remember Ronnie saying, ‘Oh, no one is going to be beat me.’ But I looked over at him when I was waiting for the call for the show and it was me and him standing there. I saw how nervous he was every time. Even though he felt like, ‘Okay, I beat Jay.’ I mean, there were a lot of shows I thought I beat certain people and I didn’t. And it’s all up to the judges.”

What Jay Culter is describing here is almost like a new fire being lit under the pro bodybuilder who becomes champion. Each person who became a Mr. Olympia earned it through hard work, dedication, and skill. They still have those tools in their belt but now it’s used from a new perspective. It’s no longer something to achieve for the first time. Now the pro bodybuilder is at the top of the mountain. It’s the other athletes who are clawing for the top.

Jay Cutler thinks that new perspective, that fear of losing, affects everyone who comes back as a Mr. Olympia champion. He can’t read minds so there’s no way to prove it. Regardless, the way Jay describes the spotlight is insightful to the kinds of pressure Olympia champions face leading up to a returning show.

You can watch Jay Cutler’s full comments in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above. You can also watch Generation Iron 3 on digital today. Click here or the banner below to get your own digital copy.

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Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.