“It was my ticket to America”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Passion for Bodybuilding Landed Him in Prison, Proved Haters Wrong by Amassing $450M Fortune Later

Arnold Schwarzenegger has become one of the most successful action stars of his generation all due to his great acting projects. However, his journey to Hollywood was not as simple as it looks. Before becoming an international superstar, he made a name for himself in the bodybuilding world. Given the muscular physique he possesses right now, it was all the culmination of his years of hard work, which went through some struggles as well.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Also Read: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Who Once Hated Sylvester Stallone, Did Not Want to Work in His Franchise, Finally Agreed As a Favor to Stallone?

While many fans are aware of his transition from bodybuilding to acting, not many might know that he spent some time behind bars before winning the Mr. Universe title.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Went into Prison Due to Bodybuilding

Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger

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The 75-year-old actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger began lifting weights at the young age of 15. He once opened up about developing his passion while watching Reg Park, a popular action star.

“I was a 15-year-old farm kid growing up in Austria when I was first inspired by a bodybuilding magazine with a picture of him on the cover from one of his Hercules movies. My life was never the same.”

While he was serious about bodybuilding, he got hate from many including his own father, Gustav Schwarzenegger. However, he continued to look forward and even left his compulsory military service to participate in the Junior Mr. Europe contest.

Back in 1965, the Terminator star was serving his one-year compulsory military service, which was once mandatory for all Austrian males when they reach 18. He decided to leave serving in the Austrian army to prepare for his Junior Mr. Europe contest.


He once addressed time sharing,

“Participating in the competition meant so much to me that I didn’t carefully think through the consequences.”

Leaving the army eventually led him to win the competition but landed him in prison for a few days.

Winning Mr. Universe Was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Golden Ticket to America!

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger

Also Read: “Nobody knows action like I do”: Arnold Schwarzenegger Crowns Himself the Action GOAT After Quitting Sylvester Stallone’s Franchise

While his short-term prison affected his overall schedule to prepare for his competitions, he was soon let out due to the very reason. The officials supported his bodybuilding career and made a gym especially for the actor to help him prepare for the Mr. Universe competition. They even provided him with the necessary food which was required for him to enter into the competition.

In his 2001 speech, he stated,

“I worked on the bodybuilding like a maniac – in the gym, five hours a day. The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America — the land of opportunity where I could become a star and get rich.”

Back in 1968, he won the second position. But soon after, he even beat his idol, Reg Park, and became the youngest Mr. Universe winner in history at the age of 23. After dominating the bodybuilding world for years, he ventured into acting, politics, and business making a net worth of $450 million as of 2023.

Source: Web Archive, Unilad

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Written by Priya Sharma

Priya Sharma, Senior Content Writer and Social Media Manager at FandomWire and Animated Times. Having graduated in Journalism and Mass Communication, she possesses extensive expertise in crafting engaging and informative content. She has written over 2000 articles across Animated Times and FandomWire on pop culture, showing her dedication to delivering diverse and trending content to readers across the world. Apart from pop culture, she is quite enthusiastic about the Hallyu culture and is exploring the world of anime, expanding the horizons of her knowledge.