OTISFIELD — A young local performer is featured in a new, nationwide McDonald's commercial that began airing Oct. 21.
Jack Gentempo, 16, of Otisfield submitted several videos to the company in September after seeing the company's ad for a video contest on TV.
Within a couple weeks, he received a response from the company, informing him that his commercial might be selected and asking him to sign over the rights.
A few weeks after that, Jack and his mother Jennifer McMahon spoke to company representatives on the phone.
"She just kept on giving me a thumbs-up when she was talking to them," letting him know that his video had been selected, Jack said.
Not only was his video selected for the commercial, it is the first shot, leading the rest of the 31-second spot for the fast-food restaurant's morning menu.
The ad opens on Jack, yawning hugely as he exits a homemade lean-to built out out sticks and logs, then cuts to clips from other videos submitted for the contest.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the commercial, which launched Oct. 21, has aired 452 times, according to iSpot.tv, a website that tracks commercials.
"Even if it was only a second, I feel like I made a small breakthrough into being on the airwaves," Jack said.
His prominent position in the commercial hasn't gone unnoticed in Oxford Hills, and surprised friends and classmates have called to congratulate him after seeing his face on prime-time network TV.
Seeing his face suddenly come on the screen at a commercial break has especially be a rush for Jack.
"All my life we've had a TV, and I've never seen anyone I knew, let alone myself, on air," he said.
Even though its the biggest prize he's won so far, and he'll be paid for allowing it to be aired, entering the contest wasn't anything new for Jack. He regularly enters national contests and sweepstakes, especially those that exercise his creativity and ask for a video, piece of writing or artwork. He's currently entered in at least 20 national contests.
Coming from a family of musicians and performers, Jack isn't a stranger to the spotlight, but having his video get national distribution is a new frontier for the teen.
"I'd like to see how far I can get with something like this," he said. He has a series of "heist" prank videos he plans to put on YouTube soon, but is quick to note that acting, performing and making videos are only a few of his interests — he's also using recycled materials to build a small house for himself on his parents' property.
"I like the ideal of trying something new, and trying your best at it, and seeing how far you can get," he said.
As far as looking for fame and fortune, Jack isn't so sure. He's heard of too many young actors who rose quickly, only to fall just as fast.
"If I got more famous, I think it would be hard to control my ego," Jack said. "Even though I think I'd do an alright job, I just wouldn't want to risk it."