A Rolesville family is going to the Final Four, thanks to a jalapeno pimento cheeseburger topped with barbecue-flavored potato chips.
Ashley and Jason Dickerson and their 9-year-old son, Aiden, won a March Madness-themed cooking contest on “Rachael Ray Show,” which aired Monday. They snagged four tickets to the NCAA basketball championship games that begin April 2 in Houston.
The Dickersons are University of North Carolina fans, and they were decked out in Tar Heel gear when their burger earned top marks from celebrity judge and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas.
They bested a family of Maryland Terrapins fans who cooked a crab-stuffed jalapeno popper.
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“I was really surprised that we won,” Aiden said. “My dad and my mom were, like, cheering.”
In addition to tickets to the Final Four games and the championship game, the family won a 65-inch flat-screen smart TV and was treated to an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for the “Rachael Ray Show” taping, a first for the trio.
Ashley Dickerson, 30, said she was shocked when the family was selected to appear on the show.
“Apparently I wrote into the show last September, and I really don’t ever remember doing that,” she said.
The show’s producers reached out to her, saying they got her letter and wondered if they were college basketball fans who had a favorite gameday dish.
The chip-topped burger, which Ashley Dickerson had been tinkering with for about six months, seemed like a perfect fit. She said the family sometimes puts potato chips on sandwiches, and she hit on a winning idea when she tried it on a burger.
After producers saw a short video of the family preparing the burger, the Dickersons were invited to the Big Apple.
“It was an absolute pleasure,” said Jason Dickerson, who has pulled for the Tar Heels since childhood.
“My dad is the diehard,” he said. “He’s the one who bleeds blue, and it just sort of rubbed off on me.”
When he was a kid, Jason Dickerson said, a relative worked for UNC and the family was able to attend many basketball games.
“We got special tickets and seats a lot, and I guess that’s what really got me hooked,” he said.
Ashley Dickerson, originally from Minnesota, said she married into the fandom.
Jason Dickerson, a 31-year-old Verizon employee, said he and his son have no culinary prowess, but his wife is extremely talented in the kitchen.
“We can’t cook for nothing, but my wife is an extremely good cook,” he said.
While his wife and son are in the spotlight for the first time, Jason Dickerson recently had another brush with fame.
Last fall, he captured video of a snake chowing down on a catfish at Falls Lake. The 20-second video has been viewed nearly 1.2 million times on YouTube.
The experience earned him about $600 in revenue, he said.
The producers of “Rachael Ray Show” didn’t tell contestants what they were competing for until filming began.
“I really thought it was money,” Aiden said. “And, well, my other guess was cooking supplies for my mom.”
Chris Ciofffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi