Jamie Anderson, Celebrity Apprentice
Jamie Anderson is no stranger to the spotlight, but the Olympics' first snowboard slopestyle gold medal winner says she vastly underestimated how much time the post-Olympic media blitz would demand. One opportunity in particular was too sweet to resist, however: the chance to teach Donald Trump a thing or two about stacking gold as one of 16 contestants on his "Celebrity Apprentice" reality show, which premieres on NBC on Jan. 4.
"We filmed in the spring when I wanted to be out shredding, so it was a hard choice to go to New York and put on a business suit," Anderson says. "That wasn't exactly what I wanted to do after the crazy winter I had, but I knew it would be cool to get out of my comfort zone and that it could be a great chance to support a cause and an organization I'm passionate about."
In the snowboarding world Anderson is almost as well-known for, literally, hugging trees before her competition runs as she is for climbing on top of the podium afterwards. She says she wanted to confront Trump on his habit of writing all-caps tweets about the "GLOBAL WARMING HOAX."
Contestants on the show compete for a $250,000 bonus check as they work to raise money and awareness for their charity of choice through a series of business challenges presented by Trump. Anderson chose Protect Our Winters, a non-profit founded by big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones to rally the global snow sports community in the fight against climate change.
"I didn't really know exactly what I was getting myself into, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to bring some awareness to POW and to the bigger issues around climate change, especially since Trump doesn't publicly believe in it," Anderson says. "I was like, 'come on.' This isn't something you believe in or not. This is scientific fact."
Anderson is contractually obligated not to leak any spoilers about the show, but says she managed to win Trump over personally if not politically.
"Thankfully, he actually really liked me," she says. "He was kind of a grump to a lot of people, but he ... was proud of me for the Olympics and all that. Hopefully I was able to teach him something about preserving our precious resources, and at the very least I was able to give a really real representation of who I am, on what can be a pretty catty show. I definitely brought a more calm, down-to-earth energy and positive vibe. Whether it's snowboarding or business or reality TV, my point is that you don't have to screw people over to be on top."
Anderson was surprised by how much her experience as a pro snowboarder, juggling sponsorship contracts and obligations and working to craft her personal brand, helped her with some of the tasks on the show. And she says participating in "Celebrity Apprentice" energized her to get even more involved with POW.
In November she traveled with other POW representatives to Washington, D.C., to meet with Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy and to discuss EPA Carbon Standards with senators on both sides of the aisle. They also sat in on some of the Keystone XL Pipeline debate in the Senate chamber.
"It was eye-opening to experience first-hand how much power and representation the big oil and gas and power corporations really have on Capitol Hill," Anderson says. "But we have power and representation too, if we step up and claim it. People like Donald Trump use their platforms all the time, and I'm reminded every day that snowboarding has given me a big platform of my own. It's easy to live a pretty self-indulged life, being an athlete, so you have to make it a priority to give back and to take time to fight for what you know is right."