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‘Claim to Fame’ castoff Hugo talks grandpa Jimmy Carter’s health and dating a castmate


The latest “Claim to Fame” contestant to be ejected from the clue-filled mansion has quite the commanding connection. Hugo Wentzel is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter. Wentzel’s mom is Amy Carter, who resided in the White House from 1977 to 1981.

Wentzel, 24, was voted in as guesser, the person who selects one of their housemates and hopes to correctly identify their connection on ABC’s game show (Mondays, 10 EDT/PDT). Wentzel incorrectly declared that Chris was related to Elton John, therefore Wentzel was eliminated and his connection to Carter was revealed. Before exiting, Wentzel informed his castmates that his grandfather had entered hospice care. At 98, Carter is the longest-living U.S. president.

Wentzel gives an update on his grandfather, and the “Claim to Fame” contestant reveals which fellow housemate he’s been dating for about four months. (Edited for length and clarity.)

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Question: How is your grandfather doing today?

Hugo Wentzel: He’s still really sick. He’s not doing too good because he is 98, but it’s basically just family taking care of him right now. He’s pretty stationary, but he still likes to listen to audiobooks (and) engage his brain, because he’s super-smart. He always wants to be doing something. I also know that he’s watched the show, which is crazy.

Have you have you talked about the show? What are his thoughts?

My mom actually spends almost half her time in Plains, Georgia, right now (taking care of him). She said he was a fan of it, also he was half-asleep (laughs) just because of how old he is.

What is it like growing up as Jimmy Carter’s grandson?

When I was in elementary school on Grandparents’ Day, like 100 Secret Service agents would show up, in like black vans (laughs). Everyone was confused. They’re like, “What is going on? Why is our school being taken over by the Secret Service?”

There’s just so many crazy things – perks or even just really cool things I get the chance to experience. I’ve gone on crazy vacations. I went to Turkey. And I met Peter Gabriel. It’s almost like normal now, but it’s so cool. I think it’s amazing.

How does the experience of “Claim to Fame” compare to what you expected it to be?

It was honestly better than I expected. I would say it was the best experience of my life! I thought it was going to be a chill thing. I would go on the show for a month, have no phone, spend some time with people, come back, forget about it a little bit and just see it. But doing it was just so amazing! I feel so connected to everyone on the show. I’m really good friends with them still. I saw JR on my birthday. I’m actually dating Olivia (Aquilina, eliminated on the July 31 episode) in real life.

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How did that come about?

I would talk to Olivia a lot, and we kind of had a secret alliance. We were pretty tight and then after the show, we just got even closer and then we were just dating. The show did a lot of good for me.

Do you have any regrets about how you played the game?

At the end of the show, I felt like my connections and my friends that I made were more important than even the money or just winning for glory. I knew JR’s relative, but he helped me a couple times before. I literally hung out with him every single day on the show. I wanted him to go far. I was down to just take a wild guess on Chris, just because I knew Chris tried to guess me the whole time. From other people’s perspective, that might be a big regret I would have, but I don’t think I have any regrets, really.

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