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CBS’ The Amazing Race Season 33 is a much different race than fans have seen in the past. Coronavirus (COVID-19) disrupted the race after the first few legs, but Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris decided to return. Ferguson shared his upsetting backstory that involved a false murder allegation and prison time. And he explained why he feels so close to his best friend, Harris, now. Here’s what he said.

Ryan Ferguson joined ‘The Amazing Race’ Season 33 cast after spending 10 years in prison

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris playing darts in 'The Amazing Race' Season 33
Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris | Screengrab/CBS

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris are clear frontrunners amongst the rest of The Amazing Race Season 33 cast. But Ferguson had to overcome major adversity to get where he is today.

In 2005, Ferguson went on trial over the murder of newspaper sports editor Kent Heitholt, CBS New reports. He was convicted of the crime and spent 10 years in prison — but the conviction was later overturned. Heitholt was reportedly bludgeoned and strangled, and at the time, Ferguson was down the street at a bar he snuck into with a friend at 17 years old. Two years later, the friend, Chuck Erickson, said he had “dreams” of the crime. Erickson gave the police Ferguson’s name, and it spiraled from there.

Ten years later, Ferguson was freed. As for The Amazing Race, a casting director contacted him via Instagram about joining.

“I thought it was a joke,” Ferguson said, according to CBS News. “I was like, ‘I’m not really going to be able to get on this race, right?” Ferguson then Googled the casting director and realized he was real.

As for the temporary coronavirus lockdown, Ferguson told host Phil Keoghan it didn’t phase him. “I’m used to being locked down,” he said. “I just transitioned straight back into the prison life.”  

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris are ultra-close friends: Here’s why

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris riding in a vehicle looking stressed on 'The Amazing Race' Season 33 Episode 6
Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris | CBS Entertainment/CBS

Ryan Ferguson doesn’t compete on The Amazing Race Season 33 alone. He has his best friend, Dusty Harris, by his side. Together, the two dominated since day one — and it’s clear they have an ultra-strong bond.

So, how do Ferguson and Harris know each other? “We’re best friends,” Ferguson told Ozarks Live. “We grew up together.”

It seems Ferguson and Harris maintained a close relationship through adulthood because Harris stuck by Ferguson through his wrongful incarceration. “Dusty’s one of the very few people [who] stuck by my side that entire time,” Ferguson added. “It was really a difficult thing to get through, but I’m just fortunate to have such a beautiful and amazing family and awesome friends, like Dusty.”

‘The Amazing Race’ Season 33 Episode 6 preview shows trouble ahead for the best friends


‘The Amazing Race’ Season 33: Phil Keoghan Reveals How the Show Filmed During a Pandemic

Ryan Ferguson and Dusty Harris completed their leg of the race first in The Amazing Race Season 33 Episode 5. So, what’s in store for episode 6?

The preview at the end of season 5 shows Ferguson and Harris struggling while in their new location in Corsica, France. It looks like the best friends attempt to cook something together for a team challenge, but they fail to communicate. It then looks like they drag themselves way far behind the rest of the pack.

“Ryan and Dusty — I don’t know where they are at this point,” contestants Lulu and Lala Gonzalez tell the cameras.

“I’m hoping that they’re just in their heads right now, honestly,” another contestant says.

The Amazing Race Season 33 Episode 6 airs on Feb. 2, 2022, at 9 p.m. EST via CBS and Paramount+.

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