Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris

Ryan Ferguson, left, and Dusty Harris, both former students at Rock Bridge High School, will team up in Season 33 of “The Amazing Race.”

Dusty Harris has a history of sticking by his best friend, Ryan Ferguson.

When Ferguson was wrongfully convicted in the 2001 murder case of Columbia Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt, Ferguson said high school buddy Harris was one of the few people who never gave up on him.

So when the reality television show “The Amazing Race” reached out to Ferguson to see if he wanted to compete on the show with a teammate, Ferguson said Harris was the only one to come to mind.

“They reached out to me and wanted to know if I was interested in applying for ‘The Amazing Race’ with a friend of mine, and who better than Dusty, one of the very few people who stuck with me the entire time I was in prison,” Ferguson said. The two have been friends since eighth grade.

This is not Ferguson’s first experience with national television. He’s appeared on “The Today Show,” “48 Hours” and “Dateline.” He also hosted the MTV series “Unlocking the Truth.”

He said he favors national television when it comes to speaking about his experience with wrongful conviction and that he is excited to be back with a new approach.

“‘The Amazing Race’ is kind of just going out there and being yourself, being a fool and running around the world, and you get to really show your personality and be ridiculous,” Ferguson said.

Although this is Harris’ first foray with reality TV, he said he would not have been able to do the show with anyone else. Harris helped Ferguson get through his time in jail, and now Ferguson gets the opportunity to help his friend experience national television.

“We’ve been through hell and back together, and hell has brought us back and we got to join forces again,” Harris said. “We tried to wreak havoc and put on the best we could for everyone who is going to watch, and we hope everyone loves it.”

The first episode will air Jan. 5 on CBS at 7 p.m.

Sydney Poppe contributed to the reporting of this story.

  • General Assignment Intersession Reporter for the Columbia Missourian, Winter 2021/2022. She can be contacted by email at gajmgt@mail.missouri.edu or at (417) 850-2155.

  • Grace Nieland is an assistant city editor at the Columbia Missourian. She previously reported on social justice issues, court proceedings and public health. She can be reached at grace.nieland@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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