Ever wonder what it's like to compete with 30 other contestants to win the heart of a complete stranger on national TV? Of course you have. That's why we were so excited to learn that the winner of the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy competition, Jedediah Ballard, would compete as one of men vying for Rachel Lindsay’s heart on this season of The Bachelorette. (Psst, Men's Health is still accepting entries for this year’s search!)
Spoiler alert: Ballard got cut on night one (what were you thinking, Rachel?!)—but that didn't stop us from reaching out to get the inside scoop from him on the show's inner workings, what it's like to date someone with the cameras rolling, and that guy who calls himself “Whaboom." You know the one. (Dance your way fit with Women's Health's High-Intensity Dance Cardio, the first-ever socanomics DVD!)
WH: We’ve heard about men and women dropping thousands of dollars on their wardrobe and grooming before flying out to film the show. Did you do anything like that?
Ballard: I really didn’t. It was a fairly new thing for me. I treated it very much like I was trying to meet a girl that I was trying to date. So I didn’t have any preparation or buildup, but I also went home the first night, so I don’t know if that was the best strategy [laughs].
You saw the show, one guy at the end, Milton, cried after getting kicked off the first night and he went on about the outfits he bought and wouldn’t get to wear. It seemed like most people had dropped a couple grand doing up their wardrobe, depending on what they did in their real lives and what they had already.
This is what men and women really think about farting in relationships:
RELATED: 7 Things Guys Do When They’re Not Over Their Exes
What was going through your head before you stepped out of the limo?
It’s funny. It’s a long night, but I was pretty relaxed. Then, once the limo pulls up, she’s standing out there, she’s looking really good, and some nerves start up a little bit. It’s one of those, “Holy sh*t this is really happening” moments. Then you’re up, you go out, and say hi.
Did you feel any pressure to do something eye-catching with your introduction?
There wasn’t [really any pressure]. I was relatively comfortable with who I was and what I’ve accomplished at this point. One guy showed up with a marching band and all that. I knew there would be some antics. But I was kind of like, "I’m going to be me." And I went home the first night, so I’m not the best coach on how to do well. I was pretty much going to do me regardless of what was going on around me.
RELATED: Harry Styles Just Opened Up About His Sexuality In A Major Way
Once you were inside the house, after meeting Rachel, what was your initial reaction to the group?
Rolling in there, a lot of those guys are really good looking. I think a lot of us did that thing where you look around and think, “Huh, I look pretty average.” There are a lot of very well dressed, good looking, charismatic males in the room. Coming from Montana, I’ve been in bars with 31 guys and a girl so that wasn’t new. But normally not everyone is that cleaned up in Montana, so that was new for me.
Lucas, a.k.a. Whaboom, had a pretty notable introduction. Did his portrayal on the show match the impression you guys had of him?
Yeah, they did not do him dirty at all [laughs]. They showed what he is. Since I teach at a med school, I was pretty cognizant of not hanging out with the guy I can’t stand to be around. That situation wouldn’t come off good on camera. He is definitely Whaboom and the dude is f—king weird.
On that first episode, it looked like it was difficult to secure time with Rachel.
Incredibly difficult. I knew it would be a little bit hard, but I didn’t know how hard. I think you saw a little glimpse of me sending a few guys away. It’s incredibly difficult trying to meet a girl on camera while politely trying to tell other guys to get hosed. It was a new situation for me.
Did you notice if any of the guys were hitting it off with her that first night?
There is quite a bit happening. You saw from the show that a lot of the dudes are pretty cocky, like “I’ve got this” or “I’m going to make this woman my wife” so it’s very hard to gauge what their interaction with her is really like. And there are some guys who, when she’s hanging out with another guy, they’re lingering or staring in. That’s not really my thing, though I do think I had to swipe her from someone. But I’m not going to sit there and stare first.
How did the mood change once the first impression rose came out?
The mood does change a little bit because you don’t meet any of the other guys before that night. There’s a little bit of a knowledge that most of us will be here [after the first rose ceremony] and friendships will develop. But once they drop that first impression rose, it’s a very cognizant reminder of this being a competition with a time stamp.
What were you thinking about during the rose ceremony?
Honestly, I did not think I would get the first impression rose. Our interaction wasn’t super-solid with all the disruptions. I also figured I wouldn’t get one of the first five or even 10 roses. But as [the night] goes along you’re like, “Oh sh*t.” Then I got cut. I went up and politely said goodbye.
I met this girl for a few minutes, so my pride was hurt but it wasn’t like I’d lost a girl I loved or anything. I imagine later in the season when you get to the point where you’ve developed feelings, that’s got to be pretty rough. Standing there, you feel pretty vulnerable even having not developed feelings for her.
Was it hard to act normally with the cameras around?
That influences people a little bit differently. In that environment, I was just very aware that all my colleagues and med students [would be watching]. Say I get drunk and knock out Whaboom, that’s a big deal for me. That’s going to cause me a lot of problems in my real job. After a while it might become natural, but that first night I was very careful watching my drinks—probably to the point where I could have been a little more aggressive and done better. But I’m still doing great at my real job, so there are pros and cons.
Rachel already announced she’s engaged. Having only spent one night with these guys, do you have any predictions of who might be the winner?
I really don’t. That was clearly something I didn’t understand and conquer right away. I was pretty sure I would stay past the first night. I also thought my buddy Canada Rob was going to get the first impression rose, and he went home first night too. I’m not good at this game. My predictions won’t hold much weight. The internet is probably a much better source.
Men's Health is still searching for the Ultimate Guy! Enter your boyfriend, husband, or best friend now through June 20 for the chance to see him on their November cover.