Stow Resident Seeks $100K TV Prize
By Nancy Arsenault
Seventy-two hours to find $100,000 hidden in a briefcase – Do it in the jungles of New Zealand, with basically no food or water, with two strangers. The only clues are a series of GPS coordinates that must be reached while undergoing physical challenges that defy anything you have ever known.
This is just what Stow’s Meg Patterson experienced this past November when she was part of the inaugural season of filming for TNT Network’s new adventure reality show, 72 Hours, debuting in June.
Unlike similar shows like Survivor or Amazing Race that follow a group of contestants through a multi-week season, 72 hours encapsulates the 3-day competition within its one-hour weekly show.
Each week, viewers watch a three-day trek, following the experiences and personality clashes within three competing teams, each made up of three people. The show offers the same prize every week, with a chance for a new winner every week, but in destinations all over the world.
Meg Patterson, daughter of Patterson Auto Body owner Frank Patterson, comes from a family of strong athletes, known for their prowess on the gridiron. Though most often seen greeting customers behind the counter at the family’s business on Great Road, she is also the field hockey coach at Maynard High School. “This show seems perfect,” she said, combining all of the elements of the two shows she loves, Survivor and Amazing Race, but with a prize that is attainable in only three days. “I figured I can do anything for just three days.”
Following clues supplied only in the form of GPS coordinates, teams must find their way through the terrain of the week’s location to the prize. For Patterson, that meant negotiating the wilds of New Zealand. The first of the three teams to discover the briefcase wins the prize, to be split among the three members. There’s just one caveat – unlike the other shows, there is no quitting the trek by any member of a team when they just can’t face a challenge or it proves too time consuming or just impossible. Also, no one gets voted out by their teammates. Unless all three people from a team reach the final point together, they cannot claim the prize.
72 Hours producers are portraying Patterson as a tough-talking, motorcycle-riding Bostonian and she was happy to accept that role. Her teammates are a 51-year-old Navy Seal from San Diego and a 29-year-old Georgia housewife with a heart condition, who, according to Patterson, weighed about 110 lbs. “I carried her on my back,” a few times, she said of the one she considered the weak link in the team. “You’ll see us butt heads a lot.”
The group was dropped at the remote New Zealand starting point with only one water bottle to share amongst each team and nothing but the clothes on their backs. In the background, throughout their adventure, is a production and camera crew accompanying every team, helicopters flying overhead dropping relief items when called upon as a strategic move, and a medical staff. There is no food unless you find it yourself. “There were palm trees, but not the kind with coconuts,” said Patterson. Despite being in a lush jungle, the nights were cold. To keep warm, it was all about fire, said Patterson, whose team was able to acquire a flint, and luckily, knew how to use it.
They climbed mountains, forged rivers, traversed deep canyons by pulling across a wire, and went through “crazy terrain” being led by nothing more than their GPS, said Patterson. Those daily coordinates led them to a location where they built camp before getting their next GPS clue.
Contestants could use a walkie talkie for a “relief drop” from nearby helicopters, a choice that would also asses them a one hour penalty. Patterson said her team didn’t call for the relief drop until the third day, but pointed out the team of girls wearing the “Daisy Dukes” shorts had to call right away because they were so cold at night and needed blankets. While some teams used the relief drops and hoped for food, Patterson just wanted lip balm. “I am addicted to lip balm and it was so hot and dry there. All I wanted was lip balm. I can easily live without food. It’s only three days.”
Patterson said her family has been pretty accepting of her pending television celebrity but are mostly envious that they haven’t had a similar chance to prove their endurance. If she does win the big prize, to be awarded to the winners 90 days after the episode airs, she hopes to finance a restaurant, café or even a food truck of her own.
She’s also become a reality TV show junkie. What’s next on her audition list? The Bachelorette. So, mark your calendar, program the DVR and cross your fingers for Stow resident Meg Patterson. Her episode of 72 Hours will air on June 13 at 7pm on the TNT Network.