As 19-year-old Andrew Sherman came flying down a ramp on ABC’s “Wipeout,” there was a “Yeehaw!” and he flung a tan cowboy hat at the TV camera.
With a goofy grin, he ran at the first obstacle in the course, called the “fence flapper,” where he was promptly flung into the water below.
“Well, this cowboy is going to have to mend those fences, and possibly his pride,” the announcer said.
Although Andrew grew up in Valencia, Calif., his great-grandfather homesteaded 25 miles north of Craig, and Andrew’s grandfather, former Craig Police Chief Glen Sherman, used to host Andrew at his own ranch.
It was those summers in Craig that spurred Andrew’s interest in agriculture, and gave him a character to portray on primetime television.
Andrew won $50,000 on the show, which aired June 22. The competition reality show pits 24 contestants against each other on several obstacle courses. The broadcast is punctuated by humorous and sometimes derogatory commentary.
Andrew, now 20 and studying dairy mechanics at the California Polytechnic State University, attributes his interest in cowboys to his childhood days in Northwest Colorado.
“That’s exactly where I credit my cowboy attitude to,” Andrew said in a recent phone interview. “Because I grew up in Los Angeles suburbia, I definitely credit wanting to be an ag major to my summers in Craig.”
His grandfather, Glen, who served as police chief from 1980 to 1994, moved from Craig to California to be near family in 1999.
But, he said his grandson is still interested in cowboy antics, and is involved with his school’s rodeo team.
“I tried that, too, when I was a dumb kid, but that’s OK,” Glen said.
He said he enjoyed watching his athletic grandson in his 15 minutes of fame.
“We’re very proud of Andrew,” he said. “I was thrilled.”
Andrew’s mother, Tracey Sherman, said her son is known in the area for his cowboy-like appearance and values.
“He was born and raised in SoCal, but we always joke he was born and raised in the wrong state,” Tracey said. “He was meant to be somewhere where there’s ranches and farms. He really loves that.”
About a year ago, Andrew walked into auditions for “Wipeout” in Wrangler jeans, a large belt buckle and cowboy hat, carrying a unicycle.
“How many cowboys out there ride a unicycle?” Andrew said of his unique hobby. “They obviously thought it was funny.”
He was chosen for the show after a second interview.
In one long day of filming, Andrew completed three obstacle courses and qualified in the top four.
About two weeks later, the final Wipeout Zone course was filmed. Andrew competed that night with a fever of more than 100 degrees.
He returned home drenched in water and multi-colored paint, when he told his parents he had good news and bad news.
“The good news is I feel better than I did earlier today,” he recalled telling them. “The bad news is, I don’t know what kind of truck I want to buy with $50,000.”
Although the show filmed in November 2009, Andrew had to keep mum on his success until the episode aired June 22.
“I was really interested in how they portrayed me as a character,” he said. “It was kind of weird. But, I was more excited to hear from all my friends to hear their reactions and know they were watching it and laughing.”
His mother said she wasn’t that surprised at her son’s success on the show.
“I think John (Sherman, Andrew’s father) and I even talked about it, and, if anyone could, he could do it,” Tracey said. “He’s very outgoing and quite the character.”
Andrew said nearly everyone has been asking him what he will do with the money. He’s weighing the responsible approach against instant gratification.
“I’m not sure yet,” Andrew said. “I’m probably going to invest, it save it for after college, for buying a house or paying off student loans. But, I might buy a truck, too.”
But, leave it to Glen to bring the 20-year-old back to reality — and not the kind on television.
“I hope he doesn’t buy too big of a truck,” Glen said with a laugh. “He’s got to pay taxes on that. He’ll find out what the IRS is real soon.”