Janusz Liberkowski crowned the winner of ABC's 'American Inventor'
By Reality TV World staff, 05/19/2006
Janusz Liberkowski, a 52-year-old mechanical engineer who created the Anecia Survival Capsule spherical safety seat, was crowned the winner of ABC's American Inventor during last night's live broadcast of the reality show's first season finale.
As the show's winner, Liberkowski, a Polish immigrant who was inspired to create the new type of infant car seat after his young daughter Anecia was killed in car accident seven years ago, received a $1,000,000 cash prize.
After American Inventor host Matt Gallant announced Liberkowski's victory, Gallant revealed that in addition to his cash prize, the show's producers had also arranged for Evenflo Company, a leading maker of juvenile safety seats, to help Liberkowski continue working on his invention. "Congratulations Janusz... I've been following your story on American Inventor closely and [we're] inspired by your passion for child safety... [so we're] committing our best in class engineering, our design resources, and testing facilities over the next several months so we can try and help you perfect your invention," Evenflo Company CEO Rob Matteucci told Liberkowski.
Each of the show's other three finalists also received similar business partnership offers.
Ed Hall, a 40-year-old former Chicago teacher who invented Word Ace, electronic table-top game that teaches children spelling and vocabulary skills, and finished as the competition's runner-up, was congratulated by Hasbro Games executive Mike Hirdle. Hirdle invited Hall to the game maker's headquarters and promised that the company would "see if we can figure out how to get Word Ace into the marketplace."
American Inventor winner Janusz Liberkowski poses with his Anecia Survival Capsule spherical safety seat (photo credit ABC/Adam Larkey)
Erik Thompson, a 40-year-old Detroit factory worker and gym owner who created The Catch, a detachable vest that football players and other athletes can wear to train and develop proper catching skills, was congratulated by legendary NFL football wide receiver (and Dancing with the Stars 2 runner-up) Jerry Rice. "I'm going to do everything I can possibly do to help you develop your product," Rice told the show's second runner-up. "I believe in you."
Francisco Patino, a 19-year-old Colombian immigrant who created the D-Tract double traction bike, a bicycle that features a detachable second set of pedals and seat mounted in front of its handlebars, received a product development internship offer from Trek Bicycle Corporation. Patino, who attends New York's Queens College, had finished fourth in the home viewer voting that determined the competition's final results.
Although the show awkwardly followed up Liberkowski's victory announcement by immediately pushing him aside in order to announce Hall's Hasbro offer, the mechanical engineer didn't seem to mind sharing the spotlight. "I think we are all winners.. I'd like to thank you, I'd like to thank America," Liberkowski announced when Gallant finally turned the show's focus back on its winner and allowed him to speak.
In a particularly amusing moment, Doug Hall, the portly American Inventor judge and extremely successful inventor who had passionately championed Liberkowski's product, ran up and leaped into the much taller winner's outstretched open arms as the program's credits began to roll.
Although its ratings tapered off dramatically after a strong initial debut, ABC announced this week that it has renewed American Inventor for a second season. While American Inventor will not be part of the initial fall lineup that the network unveiled this week, the show is expected to air sometime in midseason.