The practical joke a Columbus area family played on their 4-year-old son backfired but led to winning $2,000 on a national TV show.
Meredith and Justin Frye of Waverly, Ala., and their three children -- South, Wheeler and Townes, ages 2-5 -- appeared in the March 5 episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” on ABC. The show’s producers selected the entry Meredith submitted, titled “Dog Swipes Slice,” as one of the show’s three finalists for that week.
The Frye family finished third in the audience vote, so they missed the $10,000 grand prize, but they returned home from their Feb. 3-5 vacation in Los Angeles still feeling like winners, Meredith told the Ledger-Enquirer in a phone interview.
“We were ecstatic,” she said. “It was a paid-for-trip. We had a great time and got to sit in the audience and watch the responses.”
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They also got to watch their friends’ responses while they hosted a party during the March 5 airing of the taped episode.
“We love the show,” Meredith said. “My husband and I have grown up watching it, and we’ve just kind of gotten the boys to start watching it.”
Now, they have a keepsake episode that features them.
Their joyful journey started in December, when Justin was out of town for one of his flights as a pilot for United Airlines. Meredith and her three sons were eating pizza at home. Wheeler asked for somebody to guard his piece while he went to the bathroom.
“We’re pranksters in our family,” Meredith said. “… So, naturally, I hid it.”
And when Wheeler returned, the family’s dog, Saturn, got in on the act and pranked everyone else by snatching the slice.
Meredith recorded the scene on her phone and posted the video on her Instagram page that night. One of her friends called and encouraged her to submit the video to AFV.
A month later, Meredith and Justin were celebrating their success in another national contest. They were opening the $1,000 in Weber grill products Meredith had won for being one of five finalists in the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest when an AFV representative called and told her the producers want to fly her family to L.A. in a week and a half.
“It was like Christmas in January,” she said. “It was sort of a surreal night. … My mouth was on the ground.”
And some of the Frye family’s prize money is going underground – to construct an invisible fence for Saturn. Their 1½-year-old Labrador retriever not only is good at gobbling pizza but also scaling 6-foot cattle fences.
“He was climbing it like a ladder,” Meredith said.
Oh, and the boys also will benefit from Wheeler sacrificing his pizza slice for video fame. The rest of the prize money will help the Frye family pay for a tree house and a zip line in their yard.
Meredith confided, “I think the adults are more excited about that.”