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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Orthodox Jew Wears Yarmulke While Winning ‘Million Dollar Mile’

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Erin Ben-Moche
Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She also covers Jewish art, entertainment and culture.

Twenty-six-year-old Michael Neuman of Miami Beach, Fla, became the first and only Orthodox Jew to defeat a pro-athlete on the CBS show, “Million Dollar Mile.”

His yarmulke was on clear display July 13 because as Neuman said in a statement, “I must’ve put eight Bobby pins and two clips to make sure that yarmulke was winning.”

The show, executive produced by L.A. Laker LeBron James, gives contestants a two minute head start to complete as many obstacles as possible before a professional athlete chases and attempts to finish before the contestant.

Neuman, a psychotherapist living on Miami Beach, defeated Veejay Jones in three obstacles while running more than half a mile to win $25,000, making Michael the top winner in the episode.

The episode aired Saturday, July 13 at 9 p.m. following the conclusion of Shabbat. 

Neuman makes note of Shabbat during the episode when he says:

“Growing up as a kid, my passion was always sports but all of the leagues were on Saturday, and as an Orthodox Jew, we’re resting and having our Sabbath. So, I was never able to compete as most kids get to do.”

He continued: “As an adult, I still have that passion for sports and I started to get into obstacle course racing which are on Sundays. Ever since that moment it was like a second chance at being the athlete I always wanted to be. This is my way to prove to the orthodox community that anything is possible and we can be strong and powerful and go for anything we want.”

Veejay Jones, the 20-year-old champion athlete on the show is the youngest obstacle course winner in history, and someone Neuman  looked up to. Neuman told host Tim Tebow how much he admired VeeJay.

Jones said Neuman had “performed better than any other runner against me personally.”

Winning for Michael meant completing some incredible physical feats in near record time, including scaling a 15 story building before racing to the finish.

There was a moment when Michael thought he wasn’t going to win. But then he said, “I remembered a Holocaust survivor who told me to make a Kiddush Hashem by wearing my yarmulke proudly while doing positive things. It gave me an extra burst toward the end.”

Watch the video clip below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRPlZL9Apc0

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