We all would like a shot at fame. Some are lucky, while others are unfortunate or are simply born into it. In the Dahm sisters’ case, it’s a concoction of luck, genetics, and skill. Here we delve into the lives of the infamous and beautiful Dahm triplets, and how a DNA test revealed a shocking truth that threatened to upend their lives.
Embarking on a new life
It all began on December 12, 1977, in the small town of Jordan, Minnesota, when the Dahm triplets were introduced into the world. Their parents’ reaction — as would be the same for anyone else — was one of concern and disbelief when having three children in quick succession.
To their relief, the triplets turned out to be just fine health-wise. In fact, you could say they exceeded any expectations with their blonde hair, blue eyes, and flawless physiques. However, their lives would take many interesting and unexpected turns …
Purportedly, their parents could not distinguish their daughters early on, so they gave two of them tattoos on their backsides in the form of dots. According to an interview with Playboy magazine, Nicole has one dot — since she is technically the firstborn — followed by Erica, who has two, and Jaclyn, who has none.
The trio are also very close, with almost synonymous personalities, making it all the more difficult to tell them apart. It’s pretty hard to imagine the sheer confusion from having to keep track of kids in the first place, let alone when they all look identical. Suffice to say, the parents thought it was worth it in the long run.
Everybody knows your name
Since they grew up in a small town, the Dahm girls were relatively well-known within the community, and even their city at large before achieving celebrity status. Indeed, less than 3,000 people were living there at the time during their childhood years, so you can easily figure they quickly ascended the popularity totem pole from an early age.
So in some ways, the Dahm triplets were already somewhat accustomed to fame and glamour before actually achieving it. Thanks to their notoriety and beauty, several modeling agencies were quick to offer them lucrative deals.
The triplets were of one mind, pretty much, especially in the sense that they did anything and everything together. According to another interview with Playboy, one of them said they were often referred to in public as “you three” or “The Triplets.” And when we say hive mind, we really mean that …
Purportedly, they hung out in the same friend circles, had the same toys growing up, wore the same clothes, etc. You would assume they would have gotten sick of each other at some point, but it seems their sisterly love only served to draw them closer together in the long run.
Triple-teaming the modeling industry
At the early age of 21, the trio sprang into the Playboy modeling scene; and they even met success much earlier than that, specifically at 16, when they landed on the cover of Teen Magazine. It seems like it pays to have three clones of a beautiful person.
Eventually, this served as their springboard to fame. And hey, when you’re encountering success that fast, then why not take the fast track into fame and fortune? However, what they later attempted to do may surprise you, given their beginnings …
Taking the medical route
However, modeling wasn’t getting the job done for the Dahm trio, so they turned to education. Upon entering the University of Minnesota, and in keeping with their hive-mind mentality, they (all) decided to pursue a career in nursing. We can probably deduce they wanted to work at the same hospital, too.
However, this would be short-lived after they saw an advertisement flyer on campus. The flyer read that Playboy needed models specifically for a “Big Ten” edition. This was apparently enough for them to jettison college altogether, which we suppose is a legitimate reason to do so …
Do it for the ‘Playboy’
Eventually, they were called in for a photo shoot that would later serve to jump-start their careers and help them achieve some measure of celebrity status. Little did they know their application would fundamentally change their lives altogether, too. Eventually, a casting agent noticed their unmatched beauty and offered them the job.
When the time came for the photo shoot, they had to decide whether they wanted to be topless for the job. After much deliberation, the girls decided to agree on the condition they did it together. Hey, at least they stuck to their values in the end?
Sisters through thick and thin
While it’s not exactly a rough life of sorts to take on a life of modeling in comparison to other jobs (ones that involve hard labor, for example), the industry can certainly present models with difficult choices. These choices can either lead to career ascension or a slow descent.
In the Dahms’ case, it was the former. According to an interview with Playboy magazine in 1998, Jaclyn stated they never would have agreed to the photo shoot if it weren’t for their decision to participate together. It certainly goes to show they are inseparable …
The next big thing
Apparently, this was the right move upon observing their career from a general level. Appearing in Playboy allowed them to quickly move up the ranks in their vocational interests, namely, in terms of their prominence.
They would eventually go on to make moderately successful lifestyles for themselves. And Erica even attributes Playboy to their success, calling it an “amazing experience.” And as you’ll see, this eventually led them to the shocking DNA test on the The Doctors show that would change their lives forever.
Making it on the big screen
They would reach success pretty soon after their exposure (no pun intended) to Playboy. In fact, by 1999, they landed an acting role on the cherished ’90s show Boy Meets World as triplets who live close to Eric Matthews in the dorms during college. What a lucky guy!
Or maybe not. In the show, they’re depicted as three beautiful women who Matthews will likely never have a chance at any sort of relationship with. They would later even appear on the popular game show Family Feud and win an impressive $10,000.
Show me the money
But their fame and fortune wouldn’t stop there. In fact, one of them would reign victorious on the show House Wars. This would lead to their next opportunity: Renovate My Family, a former reality TV show airing on FOX. It basically combined self-improvement with home improvement — a curious duo for a reality series.
This, of course, led to more financial success — to this day, they’re worth approximately a combined $12 million — and popularity. Perhaps more importantly, though, this was where they would be introduced to the Dr. Phil show, because Erica met his son, Jay McGraw, on the reality show.
From Dr. Phil’s son to the DNA test
Ultimately, meeting McGraw was what led to the DNA test on a show called The Doctors. On the show, various health issues are expounded upon by a professional group of doctors. Sometimes, prominent people and celebrities alike will make appearances on the show to discuss health topics.
This happened to work seamlessly in terms of strategy, because there’s certainly a sense of the unknown with regards to triplets and the sheer novelty of everything related to them. To that end, you could say this helped create a certain unknown, entertaining backdrop to what would happen next.
Adoring public reception
After marrying McGraw, Erica and her sisters decided it would be fun and lucrative to talk about their complex lives on The Doctors show. During the episode, they would plan on talking about their lives, well-being, and how that relates to their everyday routine as triplets.
The public reception was very positive, as their lives are certainly interesting, to say the least. And, of course, their photogenic beauty certainly helped garner more attention, too. This would eventually lead to more appearances on the show, which eventually led to the producers’ next genius idea for a ratings boost …
A huge ratings boost, and three pregnancies
And while there was an undeniable boost in the ratings for the show, the triplets had an incredible life event that provided yet another viewership increase on The Doctors. What happened, miraculously, was all three women got pregnant around the same time in late 2009.
It’s pretty amazing to witness three people who look and act practically the same, let alone get pregnant at the same time. Inevitably, this would lead to the girls appearing on the show more and the producers brainstorming for yet another ratings hike idea.
In 2010, the Dahm triplets gave birth to three beautiful … wait for it … girls. That’s right, they were all the same gender and born within mere weeks of each other, too. According to an interview with Playboy, Jaclyn joked the pregnancies must be part of a “triplet bond.”
Of course, it would have been taxing at the very least to take part in a largely syndicated TV show while pregnant. So the producers let them appear on the show in early 2017 to talk about their new lives as mothers, and introduce their idea for the next steps on the show.
How it all began
The first idea began when McGraw and other producers on the The Doctors figured they would introduce a rather peculiar idea to the Dahm triplets, and thus, the show. And as you’ll see, it was certainly a well-thought-out and detailed strategy, one that would wow viewers everywhere.
Their plan was to bring in a reporter from Inside Edition to test the credibility of the ever-increasing ancestry tests. And since there has been no record of using the technology on triplets, they decided to move forward. But the results were surprising and potentially life-changing, to say the least.
Finding out where we came from
Indeed, it’s a true wonder to see how ancestry tests have gained ground in the public eye throughout recent years. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe in particular have provided thousands of consumers with information based on their genealogical background. And many haven’t questioned the accuracy of the results of those tests, until now …
The process is reasonably priced and simple, with saliva swabs used to determine the customer’s ethnicity and where they came from. By and large, people have attested the results seem to be pretty accurate. But as the game show will prove, however, this would eventually be called into question.
And truly, there have been many success stories thanks to these companies. In one case, a man lost an astonishing 40 pounds in one month; and upon visiting a doctor, he found out that he had a disease. Understandably, he tried to curtail this by changing his diet, but this had little effect.
However, after taking a test, he realized he was at risk — genetically — for celiac disease. Thanks to 23andMe, he was able to make the necessary changes. That being said, these processes, like many others, may not be perfect …
Taking the test and the ensuing anticipation
The saliva test itself doesn’t take long to administer. However, the process of sending it in and later receiving results can take a while. In total, it can take reportedly a couple weeks to fully process and later receive the results.
Speaking in medical generalities, it has been proven the DNA between identical twins is exactly the same. But this certainly wasn’t enough to satiate the curiosity of reporter Lisa Guerrero, who wanted to see just how identical, in terms of heritage and genealogical track, these women are.
Taking a look back before the DNA test
Even for all their combined star power and celebrity spotlight, nobody, including the Dahm triplets, would have guessed what awaited them. After all, they started out from a small town in Minnesota, modeled for Playboy, made an appearance on Boy Meets World, and now were about to appear on The Doctors.
It’s hard to put yourself in their shoes when you think about just how life-changing these kinds of events can be for almost anyone — let alone the fact they are all identical. You would certainly hope before going into something so vital that the results would be relatively intriguing …
First came the initial results
Finally, the day had come to take the test and find out the many parts of their DNA ancestry. They took the saliva test, and mailed it to 23andMe. Apparently, it only takes a couple weeks for the results to arrive, which was probably an excruciatingly long amount of time for the triplets.
The first results came in, and of course, the conclusion wasn’t at all surprising. They were indeed identical. Wow, we didn’t see that coming! Just kidding, of course. Apparently, they’re so similar that Erica is able to open Nicole’s safe thanks to having nearly identical fingerprints.
Then came the second test
Of course, the last test was not surprising in the slightest. However, the next test revealed something that would shock the world, and perhaps gave the triplets much more than they bargained for. This particular examination would specifically look into where their ancestors came from, and their ethnicity.
And as you may have guessed, the triplets were hoping for — and perhaps presumptive of — similar results for the second test. But as the results would indicate, their preconceived notions of what would ensue were pretty much blown up in their faces.
Not 100% identical
The good news was the first test proved 99% of their DNA was from a European origin. However, it was the last 1% that ended up being the most controversial. And as the tests came in for the last 1%, the crowd, and of course the world spectators, were shocked to see the results.
At first, there were somewhat small differences in the remaining ethnicity percentages between the triplets. One test showed Erica was a combined 16% British and Irish, while Nicole’s results came back with her having a 2% increase in both Irish and British ancestry in comparison to Erica. But how could this be, given they’re from the same egg?
Bigger differences, bigger problems
After the first test, more results came streaming in; and the conclusions weren’t exactly what the triplets wanted to hear. The problem, mainly, was that there were even bigger gaps between all three of them. And as you’ll see, the results were quite daunting even to the casual observer …
According to 23andMe’s findings, the three were way off the chart when it came down to French and German heritage. Erica has 23%, Jaclyn has 18%, and Nicole is at 11%. Upon seeing this, the triplets were understandably in disbelief and the audience gasped in awe.
Then came more inflated percentage differences for their Scandinavian roots — or lack thereof. Unlike the last analysis, there was some good news with this one. In this case, both Erica and Jaclyn shared 7.4% of Scandinavian ancestry, but Nicole’s results would be a totally different story …
The exam showed Nicole was actually at 11.4% Scandinavian ancestry. But how can this be possible when you have three identical women all sharing the same DNA? This only served to perplex the audience even more than before …
Just for entertainment or for a good cause?
After the results came funneling through, Dr. Travis Stork (host on The Doctors) began to claim that these ancestry companies might not be all they’re cracked up to be. As the triplets tried to keep their emotions in check, Stork basically said the outlook of these shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
He later added these kinds of tests should mainly be used for “entertainment” purposes and not for serious inquiries into one’s genealogical background. While we feel bad for the Dahm triplets, we don’t feel too remorseful, because they’ve made a living off of their “likeness” for a long time.
Fueling the skepticism
That’s when Guerrero chimed in and mentioned she has always been skeptical of the tests, and claimed they aren’t as accurate as they may seem to be. Stork also backed up her claims, giving some minor solace to the triplets. And while Guerrero wasn’t too hyped about the tests, she said she wouldn’t be opposed to trying them in the future.
She later recommended that it might be best for someone to see a real doctor if they want to discover their ancestry. Now, the question inevitably became what comes next for the Dahm triplets’ future …?
Life after the DNA test … divorce rumors, more children?
After all the shock and pandemonium, the Dahm sisters set their sights on a new life of sorts. They proved all the doubters wrong — looking flawless and pursuing marriages. To top it all off, they also had three babies all around the same time, which was just a few years after the test.
But not everything was great as it seemed. There were multiple reports of divorce rumors swirling around Jay and Erica McGraw. But despite all that, the three sisters have gone on to garner impressive success both professionally and in their personal lives.
Some YouTube fame and stardom
In terms of professional success, they have appeared on many TV shows since the DNA test, with one of their most recent appearances being on Relic Hunter — a show about a professor whose main goal is to return ancient relics to their former owners. They’ve also taken their talents to the YouTube realm.
In fact, they decided to launch a cooking channel called TripletsGourmet, where they give advice on how to cook some of their favorite recipes. And while they aren’t active on the channel, they have an impressive 3.7K subscribers and nearly 80,000 views on their lone video.
Carrying on their legacy
Looking back on their successes, the Dahm triplets have made it through thick and thin. Despite divorce rumors, DNA ancestry doubts, and all the pressures that come with being public figures, they have prevailed. In an interview with Playboy, Erica mulled, “It was a fun and fast ride, and the best part was my sisters doing it with me.”
As for the future, the triplets haven’t ruled out future Playboy photo shoots and events. So who knows, maybe they’ll find their way back to celebrity relevancy once more? Or, they will spend their days in Hollywood. Either way, it’s hard to complain when you’re the Dahm triplets.
This article was originally published on Science101: Identical Triplets’ DNA Test Results Surprise All.
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