Student experiences ‘Amazing Race’ through family

Clare Lowther

About 30 students gathered in the McCormack Hall recreation room last Wednesday night. They sat on couches arranged so everyone would have a good view of the television.

There was a sense of anticipation in the room. As they munched on popcorn and chattered amongst themselves, a student occasionally blurts out a question.

“What’s going to happen tonight?”

“Do you know how far they make it?”

“Who’s going to win?”

At the center of the excitement is Lexington freshman Ashlee Hyde. She sits in the center of the room, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that reads “Dad & Andrew – The Amazing Race 3” and politely answers questions as best she can.

“Shh! Everyone be quiet!” she screams as it nears 8 p.m. “The show is about to start!”

The room grows silent as the opening credits begin. Some people smile nervously, others lean forward with anticipation.

“There they are!” someone shouts as a picture of two contestants flashes onto the screen.

“Oh! They’re so cute!” Hyde cries.

Her father and brother, Dennis and Andrew Hyde, are one of 12 pairs participating in the CBS reality show “The Amazing Race 3.” The show pits teams against one another in a race around the world. On this particular night, Ashlee and her friends have assembled to watch the third installment of the show.

“It’s crazy, it’s just unreal,” she said. “I didn’t really believe they would be on the show until I saw them.”

Hyde’s long-time friend, Lexington freshman Hillary Napier, agrees.

“It’s so awesome,” Napier said. “It’s weird to see someone you know on TV. Andrew was my cheerleading coach, and he’s the same guy on the show (that he is in real life). He’s always real goal-oriented.”

Dennis and Andrew Hyde were chosen from 25,000 applicants. They auditioned at Ashlee Hyde’s suggestion.

“Ashlee was the first one to see the show, and she told me I should watch it since she knew I loved to travel,” Dennis Hyde said. “Ashlee couldn’t try out – you have to be 21 to be on the show. So she thought Andrew and I should be on it instead.

“Andrew brought the application, and we did it almost as a joke, just so we could say we had done it.”

The auditioning process wasn’t an easy one. First, the father and son had to fill out an eight-page application and make a 3-minute video to send to CBS, on which they joked around and talked about their lives in Lexington.

Then they underwent physical exams and traveled to Chicago and Los Angeles for interviews with officials from the show.

Ashlee Hyde was shocked when she learned her dad and brother had been chosen to be on the show.

Her father shared the sentiment.

“(Applying) was like buying a lottery ticket,” Dennis Hyde said. “You think ‘Hey, it would be great if I won,’ but you never expect to actually win.”

The duo left to begin taping the show in early August. Before they left, Ashlee Hyde gave them a piece of advice.

“I just told them to remember that this was a competition,” she said. “You don’t have to be nice.”

Although excited for her father and brother, she admits that their absence was hard at times.

On Aug. 14, the day Ashlee moved into her dorm room, her brother and father were racing through Mexico.

“I think my mom was sad to bring me here without my dad,” she said. “. I was just starting school, and my mom was home alone, so it was especially hard on her.”

Although Dennis Hyde couldn’t be there to help Ashlee get settled into life at Western, his presence was still felt.

“My dad gave me a card to open the day I came here,” she said. “It said ‘Love ya babe!’ and had a little note and some money in it.”

Dennis and Andrew Hyde arrived back in the United States a few weeks after Ashlee came to Western. They quickly made their way to Bowling Green to see her and her dorm room.

“I felt guilty (about not being there), like I had let her down,” Dennis Hyde said. “We came down to visit her the next day after we got back.”

A little known family fact was also brought to light with the show – Andrew’s homosexuality.

“My brother Andrew is gay and that has come out,” Ashlee said. “It’s not really a secret anymore – the whole country knows.”

The show began its run on Oct. 2, but until then Dennis and Andrew couldn’t talk about certain aspects of the show, including who won, to anyone.

“I’ve begged, but they won’t say anything,” Ashlee said. “They just told me a little about what the other contestants were like.”

Shortly before leaving to film the show, Andrew and Dennis, as well as the rest of their family, signed contracts that would have a $10 million price tag attached to divulging any “Amazing Race” secrets.

Ashlee admits her life has changed since the show began. She and her family have been featured in TV Guide, USA Today and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

But she says she is enjoying the media attention.

Dennis and Andrew Hyde were ultimately eliminated from the show on the night the crowd gathered at McCormack to watch them. Ashlee said the experience was a positive one for everyone involved.

“They had the time of their lives,” she said. “It was so great to watch them and to see Andrew experience all these new places. Dad’s traveled a lot, but Andrew had never been out of the country. . He used to call himself an ‘international virgin.'”

Dennis was also thrilled with his adventure. He felt it was a good opportunity for his son to broaden his view of the world.

He summed up the experience: “They don’t call it ‘The Amazing Race’ for nothing.”