A Rapid City-born man who now lives in Montana came back 25 years later for a date, one of 50 he will attend this year.
Matt Wurnig will showcase his date with a Keystone local in July, about a month after they met, for the second season of 50 Dates 50 States. The show is an internet series hosted on YouTube but is gaining followers on social media.
“Basically, I was bored during the quarantine and nobody knew what was going on,” Wurnig said in June.
In 2020, Wurnig had a full-time job as Director of Fun for the Bismarck Larks, a North Dakota baseball club. He said when everything went virtual, he hopped onto the Tinder dating app. People could put their location anywhere for free at that time. He said he thought he would try to get a match in every state.
“Then I was like, ‘Oh, what if I could actually meet people, since right now you can’t really go out and meet people,'” he said.
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Then Wurnig went on a virtual date, thinking he’d make it a fun challenge to go on a virtual date with someone in every state.
He said he’s gotten to a point where he’s going on three or four virtual dates a night.
“It’s so strange to think about it, but it was so normal back then,” Wurnig said. “They knew what they were getting into, but when I completed each virtual date, I wrote her name in the state on the map, and I had all the different time zones.”
He said it had started gaining notoriety on Instagram and people had come forward and told Wurnig to put clips on TikTok. Wurnig said he didn’t know what he was doing with the app at first, but got used to it, continued to create content, and gained popularity.
On the virtual dates, Wurnig said he’d try to be entertaining, whether it’s wearing a crazy suit or ordering his date her dinner, but he felt there was a limit to how much he could do.
Then he upped the ante and visited them all in person in his 2001 Ford F-150 with over 200,000 miles on the clock. It lasted about six months from January 11, 2021 to about mid-June. Wurnig said he started in Wyoming and then ended up back in Montana.
“It was a lot of fun meeting so many incredible girls, and not just them, but their roommates, or their family, or their friends, or whoever, just people along the way,” he said.
Wurnig said when he told his family he was quitting his full-time job to date women, they were surprised, but everyone supported him. He said his family will call after they watch an episode and discuss the date.
Now in its second season, where women had to fill out applications to be considered rather than a Tinder match, is more at risk. The top 10 dates will be taken on a trip to Miami and the relay winner will travel to Puerto Rico with Wurnig for a four night stay.
“If those things matter, it carries a little bit more weight because I’m not going to take anyone to Puerto Rico that I don’t like,” he said. “There are girls that I have on my radar that I think we’ve bonded really well and I think they sense that too. … I also don’t want to try to show too much favoritism.”
Wurnig said he was nervous about the trip to Puerto Rico. He said he’s also nervous because one or both parties are realizing they’re not really attracted to each other after spending more time together.
“Or will it be that cumbersome… now what do we do with the input,” he said. “I don’t want to put pressure on me or her to just jump into a relationship after we’ve hung out five times. I think we’ll see how the cards are dealt when it comes down to it.”
Wurnig said he wants a third season but doesn’t know if he’ll be the focus. He said it could be more like “The Bachelor” and have a woman on dates or another guy.
It wasn’t just about dating, however. He said he learned a lot about life in general, how important it is to believe in your own ideas, and people really aren’t that different.
In the beginning, Wurnig said it was intimidating for him to quit his full-time job and commit to the journey.
“I just believed in myself, I believed in the idea and I just kept chipping, chipping, chipping,” Wurnig said. “I think sometimes a lot of people get discouraged because of their ideas, dreams or ambitions, because that’s other people’s opinions or because they’ve been rejected too much, but if you just keep trying. I just have a great passion for people who believe in themselves and their ideas.”
He said he also learned at the end of the day that people aren’t that different, as there’s usually always a connection at some basic level.
For himself, Wurnig said he hopes to continue to grow as an individual and learn as much as possible.
“I think a motivation behind me to do a lot of this life can hit you in all sorts of ways,” he said. “There are so many things I want to do before life hits or I have more responsibilities so I think I just want to grow as a person, kind of a young influencer/businessman you might say, those skills, traits develop, meet a lot of people, make connections and just do as much as I can to get where I want to be before some of these bigger responsibilities in life come into play or before I really start looking for those things.
Wurnig said he hopes people will see that a Montana kid who went to school in North Dakota can make a difference, and if he can, so can someone in a similar situation.
The South Dakota episode is expected around July, with Wurnig’s final date in Hawaii ending July 29. The trip to Miami takes place in August and the trip to Puerto Rico is scheduled for September. People can join on TikTok or on YouTube.
— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at [email protected] —