'American Ninja Warrior' Champion Sentenced For Sex Crimes Involving 15-Year-Old Girl

A former “American Ninja Warrior” champion has been sentenced to over 10 years in federal prison on child sex crime charges, authorities announced Wednesday.

Andrew “Drew” Drechsel, 35, a resident of St. Cloud, Florida, pleaded guilty in June of last year to “one count of receiving child pornography and one count of knowingly persuading, inducing, enticing and coercing a minor to travel interstate to engage in sexual activity,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

Drechsel, who appeared on “American Ninja Warrior” for years, won the reality competition show’s million-dollar prize in Season 11, which aired on NBC in 2019. He also trained adults and teens at his gym in Hamden, Connecticut.

The investigation into Drechsel began in 2019 when a 19-year-old woman told police in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, that she and Drechsel had started an intimate relationship when she was 15 and he was 26, according to a criminal complaint.

Drew Drechsel is shown in an NBC promotional image from 2015.
Drew Drechsel is shown in an NBC promotional image from 2015. Peter Kramer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

The woman told detectives that she had met Drechsel in 2014 at an event attended by a number of “American Ninja Warrior” competitors and began communicating with him by phone.

Text messages between the two showed that in 2015, Drechsel planned for the then-underage victim to travel to his gym. The victim said the trip was intended as a present for her 15th birthday, and the text messages described plans for “sexual activity,” according to the criminal complaint.

Upon her arrival, Drechsel engaged in oral and vaginal sex with the girl at his gym, authorities said. The girl told her mother about the incident the following day, and the mother then confronted Drechsel about it. The mother said that Drechsel did not deny having sex with the girl, but claimed to not know her age.

Drechsel and the girl would continue to communicate and meet for sex into 2016.

Authorities recovered several electronic devices during a search of Drechsel’s Hamden home in November 2019, finding explicit images and video footage of the victim.

The charges against Drechsel were filed in 2020. In a statement at the time, NBCUniversal said it was “shocked and disturbed” by the news.

“American Ninja Warrior is a family show that has inspired countless people, and we will not let the actions of one contestant tarnish the hard work and amazing stories of so many,” the statement said, adding that the series would be severing all ties with Drechsel.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.