Woodbury native Dylan Eike travels the world through unique social experiences.
Dylan Eike has always had a knack for adventure. From traveling and odd gigs to his personable and loving character, he’s on a constant hunt for the next antic. But after driving across the country in the Planters NUTmobile, working with Discovery, Inc. and starring on a Norwegian reality TV show, Eike’s unsure of what’s the next path less traveled.
Growing up in Woodbury, Eike participated in youth sports, as well as student council and theater at East Ridge High School, where he was part of the first graduating class in 2011. “Every time I’m back in Woodbury, I see that it’s constantly evolving and changing … I love to see it, because [Woodbury] will always be my home.”
After high school graduation and a quick semester-long stint at a small private college in North Carolina, he found himself another home at the University of Missouri. There, Eike participated in a fraternity and helped to plan the biggest Greek event of the year; he was also a tour guide and orientation leader, convincing people to love “Mizzou” just as much as he does.
“[The University of Missouri] shaped me and made me feel comfortable with myself,” Eike says. “I lived closeted for most of my life and I just found a lot of people who accepted me as I am.”
Post-graduation, Eike landed a job as a Planters Peanutter (a brand specialist) with the Planters NUTmobile—a 26-foot long, 13,000-pound peanut-shaped vehicle—where he and other recent graduates drove around the country, traveling to events, promotional appearances and even celebrating Mr. Peanut’s 100th birthday. “We would go to grocery stores or make a news appearance … We also worked the NHL All-Star game and went on Good Morning America,” he says.
Following his travel around the continental U.S., he traveled Europe and moved to Washington D.C. for a public relations internship. Just four months later, he began work at Discovery, Inc. as a media coordinator , running on-air advertisements and working with the network creatives to execute advertisement visions.
“After traveling for a year, moving around and missing the birth of both my niece and nephew, I decided I wanted to move back home,” Eike says.
Eike settled with his parents in Cottage Grove, where he began working at an advertising agency and eventually Woodbury’s Cycle Bar. With eagerness looming around the corner, Eike knew it was time for his next adventure.
“I always find myself in wild adventures and weird situations,” he says. “And that’s my whole joke … I always say, ‘Stay tuned for what comes next!’”
What came next is his reality TV debut, when he applied to join the cast of Norwegian TV show Alt For Norge—a reality show featuring Norwegian Americans interested in learning about Norwegian history and culture, with a chance to reunite with distant Norwegian relatives.
The application process required him to gather more information on his family, including family trees and birth certificates. “It already started to uncover things I didn’t know about my family,” he says. He was then brought out to Chicago, Ill. to meet with show executives, but later discovered he wasn’t cast.
“I was so excited, because I put all my eggs into one basket,” Eike says. “But I’m not one to give up easily, and if I want something, I get it.”
The following year, open casting calls for season 10 were held at Mall of America, where Eike ended up repeating the nearly six-month-long application process.
“I was on the rooftop of a parking garage when I received the call,” he says. “There’s snow all around and the casting director said, ‘Pack your bags,’ and I screamed at the top of my lungs and teared up.”
Eike received the call in March and traveled to Norway the following May. Ten contestants made up the cast, alongside the “show mamas,” who tell the contestants things like where to be and what to wear. Comparing the show to The Amazing Race combined with Who Do You Think You Are?, Eike says the premise is team competitions and challenges, sending home one competitor every other week until the finals.
“Toward the beginning, I was so unsure of myself and so rattled,” Eike says. “During the first challenge, I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going home first,’ and that was my greatest fear. But something in me said ‘This is my moment and I’m going to grab it.’”
Although Eike thought he was headed home first, he placed second overall, saying the experience was beyond incredible. “I came back a changed person … You come back with clarity,” he says. “I had that clarity when I came out, and this felt like a new coming out. I became more familiar with myself and allowed my family to become more familiar with our family name as well.”
“But I am incredibly lucky and every day I think about all of my amazing experiences,” Eike says. “I pinch myself and that puts everything into perspective. Some people will never even get to do one of these things, so I must humble myself … I’m just so thankful for the experiences and my parents for raising me to throw myself into anything.”
If you’ve ever fancied Germanic languages, Norwegian may be the one for you! Here are a few common Norwegian phrases from a personalized book, which Eike received as a parting gift from Alt for Norge.
Hvordan går det?
How are you?
Jeg elsker Norge!
I love Norway!
Jeg elsker deg
I love you
My name is
Jeg snakker bare litt norsk
I only speak a little Norwegian.
Minnesota’s Norweigan-American Community
According to the most recent U.S. census, there are more than 4.5 million Norwegian-Americans living in the United States, with most living in the Midwest. In Minnesota, one in six state residents claim Norwegian ancestry. If you’re interested in learning more about your potential ancestry, check out these Minnesota resources.
According to Minneapolis’ Norway House, the organization is dedicated to “Establishing, renewing and advancing connections between contemporary Norway and the United States …” There are several programs, including the Gallery at Norway House, the Minnesota Peace Initiative and the Edvard Grieg Music Initiative—all of which invite guests to experience art, design and music.
913 East Franklin Ave., Mpls.
Norwegian Lutheran Church
Standing next to the Norway House is Den Norske Lutherske Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Church. Founded in 1922 by Norwegian immigrants who wished to worship in their native tongue, the church offers worship in both languages (English and Norwegian) and serves as a link between the Midwest and Norway.
924 East 21st St., Mpls.
Sons of Norway
Founded in Minnesota in 1895 by 18 Norwegian immigrants, the Sons of Norway was a fraternal benefit society, aimed at protecting members from financial hardships. Now, the purpose includes preserving Norwegian heritage and culture.
Sons of Norway
1455 W. Lake St., Mpls.