A Ninja, a Comedian, and a Chef Walk Into…

Three Emory alumni are on their way to reality television stardom.

By Sarah I. Kelley 18C
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Verdale Benson 12A on American Ninja Warrior

Real-life ninja Verdale Benson 12A has made it to the LA City Finals of American Ninja Warrior. Training for the past nine months, the physician assistant by profession has moved past hundreds of athletes attempting to conquer intense obstacle courses. In order to compete at the highest level, Benson works out five days a week with a combination of “rock climbing, calisthenics, cardio, weightlifting, and ninja obstacle training.” A longtime fan of the show, Benson refers to the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course as “the ultimate adult playground.” Watch Benson compete in the LA City Finals, hoping to win the grand prize of $1 million on American Ninja Warrior July 9th on NBC.


Sam Kaufman 14BBA on America's Got Talent

Tune into America’s Got Talent to witness Human Fountains, the comedy group headed by Sam Kaufman 14BBA. Human Fountains has moved to the second round of America’s Got Talent based on their noteworthy ability to propel water from their mouths in time to both classical and pop music, most recently to the Il Divo version of the Celine Dion classic “My Heart Will Go On.” One of the Human Fountains even had the pleasure of supermodel and host Tyra Banks spitting water into his mouth. Not all the judges are fans, though. The notoriously brutal Simon Cowell was booed off the stage by the audience when he did not have the proper appreciation of their cringe-worthy, but impressive ability to choreograph spitting water from their mouths.

Human Fountains has high hopes of bringing home the top prize of $1 million and a show in Las Vegas.

What would they do if they win it all? Kaufman says, “There’s already one famous fountain show in Vegas (at the Bellagio), why not have another one?”

Much to the chagrin of Cowell, you can see Kaufman and all of the Human Fountains compete during the rest of season 13 of America’s Got Talent on Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.


Farhan Momin 13Ox 15C on MasterChef

Queue up your Wednesday nights to watch Farhan Momin 13Ox 15C sweat it out in the MasterChef kitchen. This Duluth, Georgia native may be in dental school by day, but Momin is winning over the judges with his food fusing both his Indian and his Southern roots. Award-winning celebrity chef judge Aarón Sánchez deemed Momin’s tandoori fried chicken over a buttermilk biscuit as “one of the best things (he’s) ever tasted in this kitchen.”

“The chicken marinade is adapted from my dad’s tandoori chicken and the cilantro chutney is my mom’s recipe,” says Momin who gives his family credit for inspiring his dish. “I get to represent not only myself on a plate, but also the reason I do what I do, which is my parents.” Momin has even managed to impress judge Gordon Ramsay, a celebrity chef and reality television star known primarily for his profane language and explosive anger.

Momin’s goal on the show? He says he wants to demonstrate to “America a new side of Indian cuisine; one that does not revolve around the classic butter chicken or saag paneer.”

Momin has made it to the Top Twenty in the MasterChef kitchen. Cheer him on as he competes for the $250,000 grand prize and the MasterChef title Wednesdays on Fox.

Editor's Note: Emory Alumni Association has a lot more fun to share on Facebook.