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Of oats and dinosaurs

Mar 16, 2009
by Carrie Pack Chowske, '00

Hirko wins $15,000 with ‘pterodactyl’ dance on ‘Regis and Kelly’

Armed only with a “pterodactyl” dance and a stuffed dinosaur strapped to his head, alumnus Andy Hirko, ’02, competed on national television for $50,000.

“My wife (Kristy, ’02) and I were praying for creative ways to pay off debt,” said Hirko, who was one of five finalists in a dance contest on “Live with Regis and Kelly.”

“So when Kristy saw this dance video contest, she said that we had to spend some time to enter in the competition.”

Hirko, a college ministries director at a St. Augustine church, credits his wife with their good fortune. She choreographed a routine for herself, had Andy film it and then insisted he make his own video.
“I took two minutes and I did my crazy dance,” he said.

Three weeks later the show’s producers called to tell him he would be on the show via telephone to answer a trivia question. The question came from the previous day’s show, which Kristy had fortunately recorded. With only about an hour to study the show, Andy got the question right and won $10,000.
After his video was chosen as a top-10 finalist, he was eligible to compete live for the $50,000 grand prize, but only if he was one of the top five in a 24-hour online voting competition. So Andy launched a grass roots campaign.

He tapped the Flagler community through his connections with students who attend his church. He called and e-mailed everyone in his contact lists. He even had the local Chick-fil-A store stuffing professionally made fliers into customers’ orders. His efforts prompted local media coverage and, most importantly, got him the votes he needed.

“We had a ‘Regis and Kelly’ viewing party,” he said. “We were all going crazy [when I was named as a finalist].”

Although Andy didn’t win the grand prize, he had the most original costume. His ensemble consisted of colorful plaid shorts and a stuffed dinosaur attached to his head.

“I know I was probably not the best dancer, so I wanted to stand out,” Hirko said. He told host Kelly Ripa the dance was inspired by a pterodactyl.

In all, he won $15,000 and a five-year supply of Quaker Oats. Plus, he can say he knows a bit more about the show’s hosts.

“Regis [Philbin] smelled like a combination of Old Spice and the inside of a used Cadillac,” he said. “Kelly smelled better, but she didn’t smell better than my wife.”

Video: Andy Hirko on ‘Regis and Kelly’

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