Jesse Hu: Where is the Forged in Fire Winner Now?

Season 9 of History’s ‘Forged in Fire’ saw some truly grueling challenges, with extremely skillful contestants racing against time to create the finest blades possible. One of the unique and most heated events of the season was Gladiators of the Forge, where two blacksmiths were pitted against each other in various competitions, with the winners being awarded $5,000 and even $15,000. Among the seasoned contestants, Jesse Hu, a self-taught 19-year-old blacksmith, emerged as the unlikely undisputed champion with eight wins and zero losses. His passion for his craft and level-headedness under pressure definitely won him some admirers who may be wondering what he has been up to with his $50,000 prize winnings.

Jesse Hu Upgraded his Shop and Skills

A University of Michigan student at the time, Jesse Hu emerged from ‘Forged in Fire’ as a contestant with the second highest number of wins in the show’s history. He returned home to what he considered to be a “janky” shop setup and wished to upgrade. However, between the time of the show’s filming and airing, Jesse did not receive his winnings. In anticipation, he made a spending sheet on everything he would buy when he did, and his father stepped in to loan him money for the essentials he could use immediately. As soon as he received the winnings, he began purchasing the machinery and equipment for his workshop in order of priority and paid back his father.

The loan saved him a lot of time in setting up his upgraded workshop, which he would use to enhance his smithing business. Among the new tools, Jesse smartly did not opt for the Big Blu power hammer as he lived in a non-industrial neighborhood with foundations that could be shaken by its strikes. He instead bought a Coal Iron Works 25-ton press, which was easier to maintain and did not damage his surroundings.

After testing out his new toys, Jesse made his YouTube channel and uploaded its first video in August 2022, giving a tour of his shop. He then did a giveaway for his followers, choosing from names at random to send a custom-made knife to the winner. By the end of August, he turned 20 years old and went to university for eight months. During this time, he changed his university program from a double master’s in electrical and mechanical engineering to only majoring in electrical engineering with some courses in mechanical. His time at university did little to stop his smithing as he continued to craft as a part of the institution’s blacksmithing club.

Jesse Hu Took His Business to the Next Level

With his prize money, the ‘Forged in Fire’ champ did what he had wanted to do for a long time: he created his own website. Having so far relied on Instagram for his marketing, he began to focus more on YouTube and create a website,, to give more legitimacy to his business. He began to get a regular stream of knife orders and special commissions. The professional blacksmith confessed that he had priced his knives lower than their worth, but with renewed confidence and business advice from his mother, he began selling his creations at a premium.

The Gilbert, Arizona, resident began 2023 by crafting a gorgeously patterned Damascus knife with a flawless finish. After completing two years at his blacksmith club and refining his craft, Jesse entered Blade Show 2023 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. He met a lot of famous blacksmiths at the event and had a reunion with his ‘Forged in Fire’ judge, J. Neilson. In July 2023, he took a break from forging to attend an adventure camp in Flagstaff, Arizona, and refreshed himself on ziplines and monkey bars.

Jesse Hu Has Fun With His Work and Grows His Social Standing

August 2023 saw Jesse feed his interest in anime by forging a Katana modeled after Enma, one of the 21 Great Grade swords, which is carried by Zoro in ‘One Piece.’ As he turned 21 on August 24, 2023, he soon hit the commendable milestone of 50,000 subscribers on YouTube. In December the blacksmith spent nine days crafting the most photogenic cleavers with a mosaic of flower patterns and a mirror-like finish.

Jesse welcomed 2024 by upgrading his workshop once again with new anvils and a sturdy workbench. Using the new facilities, he crafted his most stunning work of art to date in the form of a dark katana with rippling patterns on the blade and two swirling spirals resembling galaxies on the scabbard. After 9 videos and seven months of uploads, Jesse became the proud owner of a YouTube Silver Play Button for reaching 100,000 subscribers. An enjoyer of pouring himself into his work, the ‘Forged in Fire’ star doesn’t plan to scale his business with the addition of more blacksmiths, instead pricing his commissions to suit his demand. As he grows his business and his online following, we wish him the best for his future endeavors while coveting one of his impeccably crafted Katanas.

Read More: Where is Forged in Fire Filmed?