NEW: Nik Wallenda was not wearing a safety tether, and no net was below him
NEW: Thousands watched the 600-foot-long high-wire walk in Sarasota, Florida
He garnered headlines last year by walking across Niagara Falls
Wallenda is the first person in recent history to cross over the actual falls
Unsteady cables and stronger-than-expected winds added drama, but Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walk above a Florida highway looked like a walk in the park Tuesday.
The 600-foot stroll was on a cable strung 180 feet above U.S. Highway 41 along the Sarasota, Florida, bay front. The 34-year-old, who hails from multiple generations of high-flying daredevils, was not wearing a safety tether, and there was no net below to catch him if he fell.
“Props to my great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, because I can almost guarantee you he would have stopped in the middle of this cable and have done a headstand,” he said near the halfway point.
His great-grandfather Karl Wallenda died at 73, attempting to walk between two buildings in Puerto Rico in 1978.
Last June, Wallenda captured the nation’s attention during his 25-minute agonizing amble above the roaring rapids of Niagara Falls. He carried his passport in his pocket for that historic walk from the United States to Canada, but this one was in his hometown.
“I’m risking my life on every single one of them, so there’s no difference” the younger aerialist said as he walked. “My great-grandfather did many amazing walks around the world. The one that took his life was minuscule in comparison.”
Thousands watched from 180 feet below and television cameras broadcast it live to the world, a stunt intended to promote Wallenda’s performance with his wife and other family members at Circus Sarasota.
Since the permit allowed the highway to be closed for just an hour, Wallenda’s crew had just 15 minutes to adjust the stabilizing cables. Wallenda complained at times that it was “really sloppy.”
“Holy crap,” he said. “Come on guys, it’s horrible.”
Despite the danger, he kept calm and joked with his father: “Who do I need to spank when I get down?”
Wallenda took the last step onto the roof of a condo building nine minutes after he took the first one.
CNN’s Lateef Mungin contributed to this report.