While the list of potentials is made up of some pretty major names, one unexpected contender has popped up in recent weeks: Introducing Richard Curtis, a high school teacher from Perkasie, Pennsylvania, who won a social media contest to co-host Live for one day earlier this month.
Curtis, who guest co-hosted the ABC talk show on Oct. 21, has since returned to his hometown — but curiosity about the surprise favorite is still brewing, so here are five things you need to know about him.
1. He went through a grueling audition process.
Ripa, 46, announced her Live with Kelly and YOU contest on Sep. 7, asking fans to apply to fill in as a guest co-host themselves for one day.
Participants had to submit a video application and the top 40 entries were selected by Live staff, judged on creativity, enthusiasm and personality, presentation and overall performance.
The top 40 were announced on Sep. 23, and were then given a video challenge to complete. Live staff then cut down the list to 20, and from then on, viewer voting via social media dictated the contest, whittling down the remaining contestants each day the week of Oct. 17 until only Curtis was left Oct. 21.
Curtis had to survive a series of on-air challenges, including but not limited to a “Juju on that beat” dance-off, a teleprompter reading challenge and a round of rapid-fire Q&A — and he crushed all of them.
Ultimately, Curtis beat out fellow finalist Dax Holt — but they actually ended up becoming great friends.
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2. He’s a father of two.
Back at home, Curtis is the proud father of two kids: daughter Leighton, 5, and his adorable young son Parker.
His family, including his parents and wife Lindsay, were all in the audience cheering him on during his Live stint last week, and he’s credited Lindsay for pushing him out of his comfort zone and encouraging him to enter the competition.
3. He’s not just any teacher — he specializes in TV!
Just when you thought he couldn’t be any more perfect for the job — Curtis actually teaches television production to grades 9 through 12 at Souderton Area High School.
“This is the first time as a teacher I’m going to have [everyone’s] full [attention],” he joked on the show. “Everybody’s watching me and listening to what I’m saying. Maybe we should teach something at this point!”
The best part? He really did have everyone’s attention: All 2,500 Souderton students filled the school’s stadium to watch Curtis’ performance and cheered him on with signs.
4. He can roll with the punches.
For someone who was making their debut on national television, Curtis was cool as a cucumber — even when things didn’t go exactly as planned, like during his “bottle flipping” demonstration.
5. Last but not least, he has pretty amazing chemistry with Ripa.
Curtis is not only a natural at live TV, but he really does seem to click with Ripa. The two walked hand-in-hand backstage before taking their seats, and we could watch them banter back-and-forth all day.
In fact, their chemistry is so good that Live announced Thursday that Curtis would be returning to co-host on Nov. 7.
“Honestly, so excited to be back in that chair! Hosting that show was incredible and I’m ready to show America the guy they saw is who I really am! Blessed!” Curtis gushed on Instagram. “This is all because my wife rocks and made me do it!!! Thanks Boo!!!”
Live with Kelly airs weekdays (check local listings).