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Interview: Jake Anderson

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Currently in its 11th season, the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch has become a bonafide hit for the network. The series follows life on "the vast Bering Sea" aboard six crab fishing boats during two of the crab fishing seasons, the October king crab season and the January opilio crab season.

One of the boats the series follows is the Northwestern which is owned and operated by the Hansen family. Sig Hansen is the captain of the boat and the relief captain and chief engineer is his brother Edgar Hansen. One of the deckhands that works on the boat is Jake Anderson.

Jake has become one of the most popular fishermen on the series and has worked his way up from greenhorn to now being the deck boss on the Northwestern. We sit down with Jake to talk about the upcoming season of Deadliest Catch, his goal of being a boat captain and why he decided to write the book Relapse.

Pop Culture Principle – Going into its 11th season, how does it make you feel knowing the show is so popular?

Jake Anderson – I’m very proud of the show and I think it’s pretty cool that it has made it this far. We never thought it was going to last three seasons, but now we are in season eleven and we have six Emmys. I think the show as a whole is phenomenal and for me, it’s documented me growing over the past eight years. I don’t think any other show has really shown people making goals and achieving them and with this next season, you are going to see a lot of goals and dreams come true plus a lot of bad weather.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve gone from a greenhorn to a seasoned veteran while on the show. How have you personally changed since being on the Northwestern?

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Jake Anderson - What a lot of people didn’t know about me before I was on the boat was that I was actually living on the street. I got a job with Sig and I just started making these dreams and goals. With my story, you watched this kid grow from being homeless with a dream to someone with goals who kept achieving, moving forward and became a man who is now married. In this season specifically, you are going to see some of my biggest achievements and some of the greatest things that have ever happened to me will happen on this upcoming season.

That’s why I think this show is phenomenal because you are virtually watching the American dream unfold before you through eight years of documentation. No other show has done that because this is a real story and on our show, you are watching people and families grow for real. We are doing what we normally do with or without the cameras. There is no contriving or fudging of what is going on because there is no time for it.

Pop Culture Principle – You seem to have a very special relationship with Sig Hansen. How would you describe your relationship with him?

Jake Anderson – It’s not as close as his relationship was with his father, but it’s similar. His father was a lot tougher on him then he is on me, which I can’t quite imagine because he is tough on me. It’s funny because his daughter Mandy throughout the years has become my little sister and you see this sibling rivalry because she always gets his attention and I have always fought for it. You really saw that last year because he would tell her how proud of he is of her and you would see me over there getting yelled at by Sig. I could never do anything right or never do enough and I would think he would never be proud of me.

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If you notice, all the boats are family boats and that’s what makes the show so wholehearted. You see all these dynamics that you wouldn’t see in a professional environment. The thing that makes the Northwestern so great is that we’ve been together for ten years and you see us fight like brothers and sisters. We will yell, scream and fight with each other, but at the end of the day, we would die for each other and that’s why people love us.

Pop Culture Principle – You’ve been through a lot of ups and downs personally while on the series. What’s it been like for you to share all of this while on a reality series?

Jake Anderson – It’s been pretty tough because you have a television show that is very popular and I’m doing my job and going through these serious and heavy personal tragedies. I could have gone to another boat and worked without the cameras, but I couldn’t be without my family and those are the guys that I see on the Northwestern. I couldn’t have made it through my life without them, so that is half the reason why my story was exploited. It turned out to be a good thing because people saw that you can have this bad stuff going on and this completely dangerous, miserable job, but at the end of the day you can still smile, carry on and accomplish your goals. It’s just life and it’s ok. We are Americans and we are lucky that we can do whatever we want and be whatever we want to be.

Pop Culture Principle - Your ultimate goal is to sit in the captain’s chair. Do you think it will happen in the near future?

Jake Anderson – I know I am going to get there and it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. It’s hard because you have the Northwestern which is my home and you can see the problems I run into personally. I don’t want to leave and have that create problems with the company as a whole and the family and it just rocks the boat real hard when people want to change their lives because we’ve been together for so long.

Pop Culture Principle – What has been the best thing and worst thing about being a crab fisherman?

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Jake Anderson – The best thing about being a crab fisherman specifically is what I’ve seen my mind and body go be able to go through. I have accomplished stuff that I never thought I would be able to do. Thirty hour grinds, lifting up a lot of stuff that is heavier that myself all day long and I never thought I would be able to because I am a small guy. You are proud of things like it being below zero with twenty foot seas and you are eating an ice cream cone on deck. Nobody can do that and say that is fun.

The worst thing about it is being away from my wife and my family, especially when tragedy strikes. We only have a certain amount of time that we can make money and you have to sacrifice a lot of your personal troubles or whatever is going on at home. You just have to keep working or you won’t survive and that’s really hard.

Pop Culture Principle – You wrote a book called Relapse. Can you tell us about it and what made you decide to write a book?

Jake Anderson – What made me decide to write it was because I saw where I was going and that the show was going to continue on. I wanted to people to understand more about me. Although I am a fourth generation fisherman, I started out as a skateboarder. After I was injured, I got heavily into drugs and lost all my sponsors. The book is about two friends who just had a goal and a dream. It talks about my life with drugs, my dad, my sister and how I suffered through all these tragedies. It also looks at my relapsing on drugs and trying to straighten up my life. Finally, I was able to straighten up my life, get a good job and get my sponsors back. I wrote it because I wanted people to believe in themselves no matter what age you are. In this great country of ours, you can be homeless on the street like I was and decide one moment that you want to do something great and then change your situation.

Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the new season of Deadliest Catch?

Jake Anderson – There are going to be some big changes and lots of weather. A lot of people take some big waves and a typhoon came through and you will see alot of panicking from the skippers. The opies season was bad and there will be a lot of injuries. Also, you will see the best prank ever pulled on the show. It’s my favorite, most dangerous and most illegal prank we’ve ever pulled.

You can catch brand new episodes of Deadliest Catch every Tuesday night at 9/8C on the Discovery Channel. We would like to thank Jake Anderson for sitting down and talking with us. You can follow Jake on his official Twitter account here to keep up with all of his latest news.

**All photos courtesy of the Discovery Channel**

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