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A.J. McLean has been in the public eye for a long time now. The celebrity has appeared on several shows and projects aside from his music career, which is his main form of income. Before his ascent to fame with the Backstreet Boys, McLean appeared on a Nickelodeon competition show called Guts.

Backstreet Boys performing on stage
Backstreet Boys | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A.J McLean on ‘Guts’

McLean entered the Nickelodeon show Guts in 1992. After stretching enough, he was summoned to enter the arena, and it seems his stretching did wonders for him as he took first place in the first game after scoring five baskets.

McLean was introduced on the show as a 14-year-old cartoonist who performed dinner theater whenever he wanted to make more money. He also revealed at the time that he was looking to patent a new basketball. After slam-dunking the first event, McLean’s success may have gotten to him as he began slacking in the later events.

His downfall came in the form of a purple-dressed contestant who went by The Jackal, Jamie Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn took the lead in the subsequent two events. McLean tripped up in the elastic jungle in the Basic Training obstacle course, and Mendelsohn usurped him in the White Water pool event beating the future music star by a mere 20 seconds.

While McLean took the lead during the first course with 300 points, his fellow contestants caught up to him with the trio tying at 400 points in Basic Training. The White Water rafting event saw McLean take second place, with Mendelsohn taking the top spot with 700 points, according to Buzzfeed.

The last event before the final required the contestants to make the longest jump and place both feet in the sand when landing. McLean managed to make 17’1, while Mendelsohn beat him again and made 17’4. During the final challenge, the contestants went head to head, with Mendelsohn beating McLean by mere seconds, becoming the first to reach the top with 1725 points.

‘Guts’ was a hit competition show

Guts was a show on Nickelodeon that aired for four seasons from 1992 to 1995. The format saw three contestants, children or teenagers, competing against each other in ‘extreme’ versions of popular sports like basketball, soccer, and baseball.

Most of the events involved the contestants wearing elastic harnesses, but others used a wave pool or a racing track. The participants were awarded points based on how they performed in every event. The player with the most points at the end of the episode won and received a gold medal, while the second received a silver medal and the third bronze.

The show typically featured four events, with the fifth and final requiring contestants to climb a fabricated mountain. The mountain was referred to as the Aggro Crag during the show’s first two seasons. The winner would also walk away with a faux glowing piece of the fabricated mountain.

The name changed to Mega Crag in the third season and became Super Aggro Crag in the Global Guts run. The objective of the final event was for players to race to the top of the mountain while hitting a series of buttons called actuators.

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After appearing on the show, McLean went on to find fame with the boyband Backstreet Boys. The group achieved success performing and touring together. In 2008, McLean started performing his own solo shows and touring alone.

He also appeared on TV shows and movies, making his debut on This Is the End in 2013 alongside his bandmates. He also lent his voice to Disney’s The Lion Guard. McLean famously appeared on Dancing with The Stars season 29 but got eliminated for a misstep in his routine with Cheryl Burke, with whom he has a podcast called Pretty Messed Up.