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Current Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler is exactly the kind of person you want as the spokesman for your sport – he’s conventionally handsome, personable and capable of assembling words into sentences that express thoughts more complex than “protein!” and “woman!”.  Granted, many of those sentences concern either the mechanics of lifting heavy things or plugging the various supplements for which Cutler is spokesman, but then this is the sport of bodybuilding and not the National Poetry Championships.  That’s not to say Cutler isn’t intelligent – he has an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice & has invested his contest winnings into real estate rather than, say, an Escalade made out of cocaine – it’s just that erudition and business acumen are not what get him on the cover of Muscle & Fitness.

What gets Cutler’s name in lights is the fact that he looks the way Pinocchio would have if Gepetto had been wishing Sherman tanks into life instead of wooden children.  In an interview given two weeks ago he gave his current weight at 275lbs, which at 5’9” and with a body fat percentage he claims gets as low as 3% (the bastard), means that Cutler is more or less the human equivalent of the marble statues Miami drug lords buy to decorate their atrium.

Born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1973, Cutler grew up in nearby Sterling and attended Wachusett Regional High School where, at least by his own account, his teen years more or less resembled the happier parts of Friday Night Lights.

Football, along with working on the family farm & in his brother’s concrete business meant that Cutler had a well-developed physique even before he started bodybuilding on his 18th birthday.  But, apparently it wasn’t enough to look like the proverbial brick shithouse, he wanted to be able to lift one too. 

It didn’t take long for his competitive drive to take over and in 1993 Cutler won the National Physique Committee’s (NPC) Teen Nationals Middleweight competition.  In bodybuilding, the National Physique Committee is the organization which governs amateur athletes & in order to progress to professional status in the IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) an athlete must first win an NPC pro qualifying national contest.  With help from mentor Bruce Vartanian, a Worcester businessman and bodybuilder, and diet guru Chris Aceto, Cutler swept the 1996 NPC nationals and turned pro.

Since then he’s been top dog in 15 other competitions, including 3 wins at the Arnold Classic, the Golden Globes to Mr. Olympia’s Oscars, but it wasn`t until he claimed the Mr. Olympia title from reigning 8-time champ Ronnie Coleman in 2006 that Cutler became king of the bodybuilding world.  After a surprise loss to Dexter Jackson in 2008, Cutler came back to win 2009 & 2010 and heads into the 2011 Olympia the defending 4-time champion.

The $200,000 Mr. Olympia prize purse is just the beginning of the perks that accompany winning bodybuilding’s top title – there’s also opportunity for product endorsements (Cutler reps for MuscleTech, among others), guest posing spots (paid, non-competitive appearances onstage at bodybuilding events), and merchandising (Cutler’s online store sells his line of apparel and a host of other products).

It`s well that there are other ways for a championship bodybuilder to earn a buck, as the title does not come cheap – in an interview with Muscle Mag, Cutler claimed to spend $30,000 a year on massage therapy alone.  His dietary requirements, between 4,000 and 7,000 calories a day including a full 5lbs of fish (which he despises), translate into an estimated $100,000 annual food budget and in a 2009 interview with the blog Vegas Deluxe, Cutler joked, “I am single-handedly supporting CostCo.”

Showing the kind of foresight one rarely sees in professional athletes, Cutler acknowledges that his career as a professional bodybuilder has an expiration date and he has planned for his future, “I have invested in real estate. I have contracts and sponsors that I continue with even after I retire,” he tells Vegas Delxue.  “I will still promote bodybuilding to the best of my ability.”  He says too that while he intends to continue weight training, his retirement will mean the end of the intensive training he goes through for the Olympia, “I am going to shrink down,” says Cutler.  “And I’m going to throw the fish out the window.”

Die-hard fans have said that going into the 2011 Olympia Weekend Cutler looks confident and happy but based on the few interviews I’ve seen I don’t know that I agree.  Physically he looks good but he seems tired and unenthusiastic, but then maybe it’s difficult to summon energy when a camera is shoved in your face shortly after you’ve finished throwing around a few hundred pounds.

One imagines that if Cutler were to lose this year’s Olympia to a contender like Phil Heath or Kai Greene we could see his retirement announced shortly after the Sheru Classic in Mumbai, India, on September 23-24.  Bodybuilding is a heavily political sport, however, and the IFBB could certainly use a spokesman like Cutler for a few more years.

Time will tell.

Jay Cutler at the 2011 Mr. Olympia:

Thursday Afternoon Press Conference Gallery
Friday Night Prejudging Gallery
Saturday Night Final Gallery
Phil Heath is the New Mr. Olympia

Brennan Storr writes the blog Largely the Truth