(Originally published in The California Aggie)
UC Davis junior Kevin Wu is best known as “Kevjumba,” the creator and star of comedic YouTube videos about everything from Asian stereotypes to life in college.
But last Sunday, an audience of millions watched as Wu, along with his father and frequent YouTube costar Michael, became “Team Jumba” – one of 11 teams of two people competing on season 17 of the Emmy award-winning television show “The Amazing Race.”
Their challenge? Follow clues to destinations around the world, complete tasks and avoid elimination at the end of each grueling leg of the race for the chance to win the $1 million first-place prize.
Both Kevin and Michael are longtime fans of the show and knew they couldn’t pass up the chance to compete.
“We both wanted to do it,” Kevin said. “If we didn’t do it we probably would have regretted it for the rest of our lives.”
Michael said he was excited for the opportunity to travel, something he doesn’t get to do as often as he’d like.
“I watched the show for a long time and I’ve always liked to travel around the world. It was a great opportunity,” he said. “And the fact that I got to do it with Kevin, together, I thought that it would be a unique experience.”
To apply to be on “The Amazing Race,” teams had to submit a video to the show’s website, said CBS spokeswoman Mallory Mason. Because Kevin was in Davis and Michael was in Houston, Texas, each shot their own parts separately and Kevin edited them together, including clips from his own popular videos.
“It was really simple and they loved it,” he said.
To prepare for the highly physical and sometimes exhausting competition, the Wus said they worked hard before the race to get into the best shape possible. Still, they knew physicality may not be their strong point.
“My dad may not be physically the strongest,” Kevin said. “Our strategy was to use our heads more than the other teams, analyze things, take our time and make the right choices.”
For fans of Kevin and Michael’s YouTube videos, watching the two compete on a reality show will be unlike much they’ve seen from “Kevjumba” before. Kevin said when he announced the news in a video, many viewers were left scratching their heads.
“Most of the people didn’t take it seriously because it’s such a weird thought, and they’re not used to me doing something like this,” he said. “But I think it’ll be exciting for my fans. I think they’re going to love it and I hope they keep tuning in every Sunday.”
For Kevin and Michael, the race will offer a bonding experience like no other. Though they’re both a little nervous about how they will be portrayed on television, they are confident that their relationship is strong enough to carry them through and make “The Amazing Race” a memorable adventure.
“I’m sure that for the rest of my life, I will remember this experience,” Michael said.
“We’re going to be with each other for a really long time, and we have to get used to that and not want to kill each other,” Kevin said. “[But] this was the most ideal situation – if I’m going on the race, I wouldn’t have wanted anyone other than my dad to go with.”
Watch Kevin and Michael on “The Amazing Race 17″ Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBS.