PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In the Amazing Race, 22 complete strangers meet each other for the first time at the starting line.

One of those competitors is 37-year-old Michael Rado.

“I started growing this beard the day after I stopped my last job and that’s over three years ago, now I own and operate a butcher shop with my wife,” Rado said.

Rado runs Butcher on Butler in Lawrenceville. He loves Pittsburgh, but has always dreamed of seeing the world as a contestant on the Amazing Race.

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“How often do you get somebody to tell you, ‘hey, we want to give you the opportunity to race around the world, see continents, not countries but continents,’ you’d be a sucker to not,” he said.

Rado’s family and friends celebrated the season 29 premiere in a big way. They gathered at Mr. Small’s in Millvale.

Rado’s band performed and then a watch party was held. Rado wouldn’t give any show secrets or spoilers away, but he did talk about his fellow competitors.

“Twenty-one of the best people I’ve ever known in my life, all the other competitors, all the other racers, complete strangers, all walks of life, all over the country, everybody’s got an agenda, everybody’s there to win a million bucks and see the world and we became closer than I ever thought I could be with somebody that I knew for three weeks,” he said.

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As for the race itself, spanning nine countries, 17 cities, and 36,000 miles, Rado said it was everything he hoped for.

“You’re exhausted always, you’re hungry always, you’re dehydrated always and you wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said.  “I would love to go back to every single place I visited on the race and see it at a calmer pace with less madness.”