Holding his breath underwater for 17 minutes didn’t scare David Blaine—but stepping on the TEDMED stage did

TED Blog

David Blaine is the master of the endurance stunt.  In 1999, he was buried alive in a clear box underneath three tons of water. Over the course of seven days, about 75,000 people stopped by to watch him in his self-made tomb. [ted_talkteaser id=741]In 2008, Blaine attempted to set the Guinness World Record for holding his breath underwater in front of a packed crowd — and had to be pulled out of the tank when he started convulsing. He attempted the trick again, this time successfully, as Oprah‘s cameras rolled — holding his breath for an incredible 17 minutes and 4.5 seconds. Just last year, Blaine performed a new 72-hour stunt in which one million volts of electricity were sent through his body, the whole thing livestreamed over YouTube.

Blaine found these challenges — and their very public nature — both manageable and exciting. But there was one challenge that…

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