By Katie Franz
April of this year, Zionsville resident Todd Ferris packed his bags for a unique opportunity – a trip to Norway to compete in the Norwegian reality show Alt for Norge in hopes of winning $50,000 and meeting his Nordic ancestors. He was told he would be gone for two to nine weeks, depending on how he fared, and that no contact with his wife and kids would be allowed.
Ferris essentially entered on a whim, but most would understand why he now calls it “the experience of a lifetime.” In addition to exploring the snow-covered slopes and sunlit beaches of his ancestral homeland, Ferris emerged as the grand-prize winner of the competition, which followed 12 Americans as they confronted various physical and mental challenges all over the country.
Ferris says the hardest tribulation he faced consisted of a street performance in Oslo. The teams were given 30 minutes to raise as much money as possible.
“They wanted nothing to do with these loud Americans, along with the cameras filming us,” he said.
After Ferris braved weeks of similar tasks, his family was notified of his success. His mother flew in for the final episode in place of his wife, who was unable to fly at the time due to pregnancy. They traveled by helicopter to Ferris’s Norwegian relatives’ hometown, where they met their relatives for the first time.
Besides his mother and family, a contract required him to keep quiet about the results of the show.
“There were some other immediate family and friends that knew, but most everyone else was left in the dark,” Ferris said. “I just had the trip of my life and I couldn’t share any of the details with anyone.”
Now that the finale has aired and the news has been shared, Ferris is looking to the future, planning to save his winnings for his young daughters’ college funds and weddings.
“However, not before we purchase a hot tub and a trip back to Norway for my wife and I, so that she can finally experience first-hand some of the stories that I keep telling her,” he says.
Ferris says he has not been invited back for another season but certainly plans to return one day.
“The country and the people are too incredible not to want to experience some more!” he says.