Ottawa Redblacks’ defensive end Frank Beltre wound up competing on a wildly popular television show almost by accident.
The 31-year-old made frequent visits to his family during the CFL’s extended off-season. He quickly grew tired of their obsession with the show Exatlón, which seemed to be on television non-stop.
“Every time I came home and talked to my mom and my niece and everybody, they would always just put me to the side. I was like, ‘What are you guys watching?’ until I almost got sick of it. I was like, ‘You know what? I’m not even coming by here anymore,'” said Beltre in a videoconference.
Exatlón is one of the most popular shows on Spanish television, running frequently in primetime. It pits athletes and celebrities against members of the general public as they compete in a series of challenges that test their strength, intelligence, and courage.
Beltre eventually let his competitive side get the best of him, suggesting that the challenges on the show weren’t that hard. His niece, Samantha, called him on it, which led to a serendipitous opportunity for the pass rusher.
“I’m like, ‘Man, that looks so easy — I feel like I could do this,'” said Beltre. “Me and my niece have a very special relationship because we like to challenge each other in anything. She goes, ‘Oh yeah? I bet you can’t do it.’ I’m like, ‘Sign me up.’ Little did I know she did sign me up.”
Beltre was cast for the show as a member of the ‘Famosos’ with whom he competed alongside other athletes and celebrities. He put his six-foot-two, 245-pound frame to good use, displaying his elite level of athleticism.
He made it clear to the show’s producers that he would not be available for the season’s full run due to his previous football commitments. They understood and he left early, though he was not eliminated by another contestant.
“My goal was to not be the first one to get eliminated,” said Beltre with a laugh. “I did not get eliminated — I left early.”
The native of Azua, Dominican Republic is happy to have competed on the show. He has already been offered a spot in the show’s upcoming sixth season, though he does not believe he will be available to participate.
“It was a great experience,” said Beltre. “I pretty much did it for my niece to teach her to take challenges and to give everything she’s got.”
Beltre is currently competing to win a starting job along Ottawa’s defensive line. He has previously been a member of the Calgary Stampeders (2014-16) and Toronto Argonauts (2018-19), recording 110 total tackles, five sacks, and three forced fumbles over 57 career games.