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Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge Episode 7 Winner Explains His Mardi Gras Inspiration

The winner of Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge opened up about the design behind his build and how much the celebrity guest judge meant to him.

By James Grebey
Best Builds: Breaking Down the Diecast Details of Hot Wheels (TM): Ultimate Challenge Ep. 7

Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge Episode 7 saw two ambitious designs go head-to-head in a competition that saw both contestants dig deep into their personal lives to tell a story through over-the-top automotive design. In the series' after show, Best Builds, the hosts broke down what gave one car the edge. 

How to Watch

Watch Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge on NBC and Peacock.

The after show, once again, saw host Rutledge Wood and the episode’s resident Hot Wheels experts, Dalal Elsheikh and Hertrech Eugene discuss the builds as well as surprise special guest, WWE Superstar Big E's appearance. They also broke down how competitive they believe the winner will be in the finale. However, for the man behind this week's winning build, the car was all about family memories. 

Who won Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge Episode 7?

Nick Harrison, the winner of Episode 7 of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, bested his fellow superfan Michael Cooney’s car, The Reaper, with his own ride, Mardi Gras Mania. But, although Harrison is a Louisiana native, he hadn’t ever actually been to the iconic New Orleans celebration until recently. His first time going to a Mardi Gras parade was so important to him, though, that it just might have given his car the personal touch it needed for guest judge Big E and the normal judges to give him the victory. 

Harrison, who spoke to NBCInsider ahead of the July 18 premiere of his appearance on Episode 7 of NBC’s hit reality-competition series, said he went into Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge not knowing what to expect, so his mindset was “to expect anything and everything. 

“I’m glad that’s what it was because that’s exactly what I encountered,” he adds.

What Was Episode 7 Winner Mardi Gras Mania Inspired By?

Working off a 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Harrison and his carpool team created “a love letter to the state of New Orleans and the city of Louisiana.” It’s a bold, vibrant, and loud car, as one might expect from a Mardi Gras-inspired ride, but it also holds great personal significance for Harrison. 

“Mardi Gras is something that is ingrained in me because I am from the state of Louisiana. I grew up learning about it, but it wasn’t until recently when I got into a relationship with my now-wife, that I had gone to a Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras was actually one of the first things that we did with a family,” he said. “We’d both been in previous marriages and we both have children from those previous marriages, but this was the first time that all of our children had gotten together and done something with us as a family.”

RELATED: On Hot Wheels™: Ultimate Challenge, Finding the Line Between Toy and Car Is the Real Challenge

In addition to being inspired by NOLA and his family's connection to Mardi Gras, Harrison’s ride also showcased another side of his personality. Harrison is a TikTok creator of some repute, largely making videos about Gen X culture.  

“To be on social media, especially in a format like TikTok where you’re putting yourself out there all the time, you have to be kind of big and boisterous and loud,” he explains. “I wanted to put a lot of my personality, what I put into those videos, into my Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge car. Big, loud, boisterous, fun.” 

From The Big Easy to Big E

Every episode of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge has a guest judge (past guest judges have included Terry Crews and Anthony Anderson), and for Episode 7 it was WWE Superstar Big E’s turn to evaluate the cars. It was a fitting judge for Harrison, a wrestling fan whose social media work has been featured by WWE before.

“As a lifelong WWE fan, to meet one of my favorites of all time was just an absolute thrill. Being a Michigan guy, he loves cars. It’s what he grew up around and he’s a big fan of cars, and a big fan of Hot Wheels, much like myself,” Harrison says. “Getting a chance to talk to him and really pick his brain and interact with him was really one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Harrison says his experience on the show as a whole was a great one, citing the jovial nature of the competition, which was spirited but never argumentative. (Harrison likens the ribbing between the two rival car-builders to brothers and sisters going back and forth.) Whether he won or lost this seventh episode, Harrison said he would have been happy. 

“I had so much fun with that first build that I was like ‘God I hope I get picked for the finale,’” he adds. And, because Harrison won his episode, there's a chance we’ll see him in the finale, which will pit three previous winners against each other for a $50,000 prize and the chance for their winning car to be made into an actual Hot Wheels car. 

New episodes of Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge air on Tuesdays at 10PM ET/PT on NBC and the next day on Peacock. New episodes of the official Ultimate Challenge after show, Best Builds, air after each new episode.