Andrew Jacked Out of The Arnold Classic?

by Christian Duque

Anytime I read that a top tier bodybuilder has to pull out from a major contest because of exhaustion or too much going on it always leaves me quite puzzled. When Andrew Jacked announced that he was out of the 2024 Arnold Classic due to this very type of excuse it didn’t sit well with me. The much-talked about bodybuilder stated he didn’t want to do the 2nd biggest show in bodybuilding unless he could bring 100% to the stage. That’s certainly commendable, but it makes very little sense.

He stated he wasn’t interested to get there unless he could win – also a very noble sentiment. No one should accept the invite to bring anything less than their best.

He claims there were a lot of different factors at play but of course he didn’t articulate any of them. Was there a death in the family? Was he badly injured? Did he come down with a debilitating illness that prevents him from training? Who knows?

But when Jacked announced he wasn’t doing the contest it sent shockwaves throughout the bodybuilding world. Here’s one of the most aesthetically-complete athletes in the pro circuit who many believed could have upset the Hadi/Samson applecart and walked away with the win, saying he’s out. He left nothing to chance. He didn’t leave any glimmer of hope that he might still compete. I mean we’re still several weeks out.

He’s just out. End of story.

On a recent interview with Dave Palumbo, Aceto (Andrew’s coach) seemed extremely vague. He claimed Jacked started his Arnold prep on January 1st for one of the most competitive contests in pro bodybuilding. He announces he’s not the doing contest just 14 days in. Is 9 weeks enough time to prep for the 2nd biggest contest in bodybuilding especially when he’d be facing off against last year’s Arnold champion and a Mr. Olympia who just lost the title just a few months ago? And not only did Jacked pull out of the Arnold USA, but it sounds like he’s pulled out of two separate Arnold Classics.

What could these different factors be? If it’s a death in the family or a major injury then my heart goes out to him. We send prayers and support, but unless it’s a very private matter, some will undeniably raise the possibility that he just wasn’t ready, that he waited too long, and wasted an Arnold invite that could have gone to another top guy like 2019 Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry.

Does his invite now go to someone else? And would that someone else be prepping in hopes of getting an invite because someone dropped out? That seems highly unlikely. Unless the “other factors” only became an issue over the course of the last 14 or so days I think Jacked should have declined the invite sooner. Maybe he shouldn’t have accepted the invite in the first place. These spots are highly in demand and it irks me if they’re wasted. No one has really raised this but it is most definitely a pet peeve of mine. Hopefully Andrew’s withdrawal won’t create a domino effect.

The other issue at hand is that Andrew is an engineer and has a very demanding job. I applaud anyone that has a career, but if you have a profession like that, I can see bodybuilding playing second fiddle. I’d bet that engineering is what pays the bills and that bodybuilding is more of a pastime. I don’t want to pick on the guy for being highly-educated and being ambitious, but if push comes to shove he needs think about himself above all else. That’s what we should all do.

Plus was he really going to beat the likes of Samson or Hadi? Even if he had the best physique and came in ripped as nails, how likely was it for him to walk away with the win? Realistically speaking the best case scenario against a past Mr. O and a defending ASC champion was probably 3rd. Call that predictions, politics, a little bit of all of the above. That being said, maybe we’re just speculating here. That’s a lot of what we do here and a good amount of the time we’re 100% on the money.

The fact is I don’t like hearing that Andrew Jacked is out. I don’t think he set enough time aside to prep and I don’t like vaguely-worded explanations for why he can’t compete. I also think that Aceto more or less confirmed the prep issues I’m having by being somewhat evasive with Palumbo’s line of questions regarding his client’s prep.

It makes it even more frustrating considering the very gifted quality that Andrew possesses. He has the genetics and he has the work ethic when his heart is in it to be the very best. We saw this with guys like Flex Wheeler back in the 90’s. He had all the tools necessary to win it all; however, he liked to party and he just never put it all together. He never pursued the sport to his fullest potential. We can’t draw a parallel with Jacked just yet because we have no clue why he dropped out. He’s also not in the habit of pulling this type of behavior, either. It makes me think that something very real might be going on.

Do we have a right to know? No, we don’t.

Bodybuilders – like the rest of us – have the right to their privacy. That being said, when you’re at the elite level of your sport, the fans want to know. They may not have a right to know, but they want to know. And if the celebrity doesn’t fill in the blanks, people start doing it on their own. It’s one thing what the fans think, but when you start talking about the judges, the sponsors, and the big media sites, and now you have a real problem.

How bad could it get?

I will tell you one thing, unless Andrew opens up and soon – with some legitimate reasons for dropping out – I could see the Arnold Classic invitational committee blackballing him in the future, You don’t just throw away an invite like this and not expect them to take it personally. I know if I was Arnold, I would at least want a phone call. The Arnold is the second biggest show, with a huge purse, and tremendous bragging rights. To just waste an invite like this – and – to also be a top draw, that’s just not cool. I don’t care what the reason was, if Andrew reads this article, he should at the very least figure out a way to reach out to Arnold himself and explain.

Just some free advice.