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CNN Live Event/Special

East Coast And Central Time Ring In New Year 2024. Aired 12:30- 2:05a ET

Aired January 01, 2024 - 00:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The countdowns have begun. I am Sara Sidner, here with Cari Champion.

CARI CHAMPION, CORRESPONDENT, ESPN: Hello, my friend. It's so good to be with you.

SIDNER: We are here with Austin.

CHAMPION: Hello, Austin. Thank you guys for joining us! We appreciate you all!

SIDNER: We so do. And a big old travel and honky-tonk. We cannot wait to tell you all the things that we have for you.

CHAMPION: What's a traveling honky-tonk, dear friend?

SIDNER: We're going to sing.

CHAMPION: We're going to dance. We're going to have some food. We're going to do all the things.

SIDNER: All of it.

CHAMPION: We are trying to ring in the new year for you here the Central Time Zone. You're going to have to help me with that, because I get confused with the time zones.

Happy new years to the folks that are watching us from the East Coast. What do we have in store for them?

SIDNER: We have some surprises coming.


SIDNER: And one of them is not with us right now.

CHAMPION: Not at this moment.

SIDNER: But it's Stephanie Elam in the Bahamas. That is a very difficult assignment. I know you have suffered through this. CHAMPION: So jealous of her.


SIDNER: I'm so happy to have my friend hanging with us.

ELAM: You are not jealous!

CHAMPION: I'm jelly. I am jelly! I'm jelly.

ELAM: OK, can I see -- can I just show you guys who I am hanging out with? While he's face timing -- who are you face timing?

NELLY, SINGER: That's my baby, that's Ashanti.

ELAM: Oh, Ashanti. OK hi, Ashanti.

So, yes. So you know, this is Nelly, who just got off-stage as a surprise guest, Sara and Cari.

Wait, can I tell you, what's it like when you're out there and everyone is singing the lyrics back to your songs?

NELLY: It's amazing. I mean, that is what you want, that is what you get into this business for. It's a feeling you cannot express enough to make people feel you have to understand it. And I'm very, very thankful and blessed.

ELAM: Yes. You're blessed, and you know what else you are?

NELLY: What am I?

ELAM: You're going to turn 50 in 2024.

NELLY: Whoa! I definitely --

ELAM: As is somebody else here. So, how are we feeling about that?

NELLY: Both of us.

ELAM: Both of us! How are we feeling about that?

NELLY: We feel great, because we don't look it.

ELAM: No, you really don't. You really don't. You really don't. Really, really, really don't. So, what are you most thrilled about in this new year?

NELLY: I think just -- just spreading the love that's been bestowed upon me over the past 25 years, and just trying to at least grow my company, Derrty Ent (ph). My life with this beautiful woman right here --

ELAM: Ashanti is literally still here on face time with us, you guys.

NELLY: Yes, yes, yes. She's rocking out. ELAM: Literally. She's rocking out. You're not together?

NELLY: We didn't give a chance to bring in this new year together because we were already committed to certain things.

ELAM: She's stunning, by the way.

NELLY: Thank you so much. But I mean, you know --

ELAM: But the love is real.

NELLY: Yes, and we're very, very thankful for all the fans' support.

ELAM: I love that, I love that.

So, Ashanti is here with us in spirit, you guys. And I'm going to try to be like Nelly and be all positive as we turn 50 this year. He just killed it onstage, you guys.

NELLY: Thank you so much.

ELAM: He killed it, killed it.

CHAMPION: I bet he did, I bet he did.

ELAM: Will you turn the camera around. Turn your phone around so they can see you? There you go, there you go.

CHAMPION: Let's see Ashanti.

ELAM: Ashanti is in the house by way of technology. That is awesome.

SIDNER: We love good technology.

CHAMPION: We love Ashanti. Please tell Nelly we said hi. We love him so very much.

SIDNER: We love Ashanti.

Fitty. Fitty.

CHAMPION: Five, zero.

NELLY: We're all here.

ELAM: You guys have fun in Texas, you know, where you're -- you're you know, not in the Nassau, Bahamas area, but you all have fun there.

CHAMPION: We are having fun here. The assignment --

SIDNER: She understood the assignment, and she loved the assignment.

CHAMPION: And then she took it to the next level as she always does, which is excellent.

SIDNER: Yes, yes. CHAMPION: You guys, I have to say, just taking two minutes out -- so, Sara, you do this, right?


CHAMPION: You do do this. And so it has been such a wonderful opportunity for me to sit with this lovely woman and just talk to her about our evening of fun.

And I want to tell the viewers at home, because I'm sure that you all see this, but one of the things -- one of my new year's resolutions is to often tell people how amazing they are and give them their flowers. And you came on my show earlier this year. I hope we can show this photo.

SIDNER: You are tricking me, now. Because you did this without me knowing.

CHAMPION: I did, I did this, because I want to set the stage for what is -- what I believe is what I'm going to always do, is acknowledge people who deserve to be acknowledged and how great and humble and -- I mean, just a good human.

And so, thank you for being a good human, welcoming me to this family, allowing me to sit on this beautiful stage with you --

SIDNER: We're about to have fun.

CHAMPION: We're going to have so much fun tonight.

SIDNER: Absolutely.

CHAMPION: And I couldn't think of a better way to ring in the new year, so thank you, dear friend.

SIDNER: I am so happy to have you here. This is going to be so much fun. You can hear -- they are kicking off the music. It's going to be country and, you know, Austin has such an eclectic group.

CHAMPION: Of musicians, right.

SIDNER: It's an amazing town, but you know what we have for you? I 'm so sorry you can't taste it, but we got some barbecue --

CHAMPION: Maybe they have. Maybe they have, follow us.

SIDNER: Follow us, come on into the honky-tonk. Come on.


CHAMPION: Hold on to the --

SIDNER: Hold on to the rail.

CHAMPION: Gingerly. Gingerly walking into the honky-tonk --

SIDNER: All right. We are here.

CHAMPION: We have none other than --

SIDNER: This is the coolest man in Austin. This is Aaron Franklin.

AARON FRANKLIN, OWNER, FRANKLIN'S BARBECUE: I don't know about that. I mean --

SIDNER: OK, let me prove my point. What time does the line start at Franklin's Barbecue?

FRANKLIN: Oh, I don't know. Probably almost midnight? It's probably started about now. No, I'm kidding. Six a.m., seven a.m..

CHAMPION: But it is a must-have. I asked you, Sara, I go -- hey, is there ever a time when you guys don't have a line? And your response is --

FRANKLIN: Well, the date we're closed we usually don't have one.

SIDNER: You said we don't ever not have a line, using a double negative.

FRANKLIN: You know, we're pretty lucky.

SIDNER: I have to say, we're lucky. Because we don't have to stand in that line.

FRANKLIN: I see what's going on. You guys invited me so you didn't have to stand in line for brisket. I totally understand.

CHAMPION: I mean -- I mean, that was the main reason. But Texas is known for its barbecue, so it only makes sense.

FRANKLIN: Yes, yes.

CHAMPION: Your story is really humble, and -- and I'm looking at someone who, as we talk about ideas. And the idea I got with you was just to keep trying, just figure it out. You always say, if you fail, it doesn't turn out, I'm going to figure it out again.

FRANKLIN: Just keep going.

CHAMPION: Just keep going. And so what has been the key to your success? Is that it?

FRANKLIN: Well, we use, a lot of salt. That's the main thing. A lot of -- a lot of time on fires.


SIDNER: I read something about you, that you don't believe in slow cooking. Is that it?

FRANKLIN: Oh, everything we do is slow cooking.

SIDNER: OK, "L.A. Times."

FRANKLIN: It is so much quicker over there.

SIDNER: But this is brisket?

FRANKLIN: This is indeed brisket.

SIDNER: I mean, if you eat barbecue, you know what brisket looks like.

CHAMPION: It's amazing.

SIDNER: It looks like it is -- listen, I'm just going to have -- I'm sorry.

FRANKLIN: Go for it. I'll grab you some of these little pieces up in there.


FRANKLIN: I'm actually vegan, so I'm not going to to partake.

CHAMPION: You are not vegan!

FRANKLIN: No, I am super-duper not.

See? A lot of salt.

SIDNER: You know what? I don't know what you did to this, I am just shocked.

FRANKLIN: The pickles are nice, a little bit of sauce, if you want. If you have to put the sauce on it, it must be pretty good. Right?

CHAMPION: It's like a piece of heaven in your mouth. And everyone, from my understanding, as I'm still chewing, forgive me --

FRANKLIN: It is OK, judge free zone in Texas.

CHAMPION: I mean, goodness, it's so amazing. Honestly, what do you think is the difference? What separates you from everyone else?

James Beard Award winner?

FRANKLIN: Yes, there's that. We cook everything, hopefully, as close to perfection as possible. That's about all I got.

CHAMPION: As much as you can do. All right. So, if folks want to get this, and I know you have your own sauce, you even have barbecue pits.


CHAMPION: You sell barbecue pits?

FRANKLIN: We do, we shall barbecue pits.

CHAMPION: How did you start doing that? FRANKLIN: Well, there just weren't a lot of really awesome barbecue

pits out there for people.

CHAMPION: And so you cornered the market on that, as well?

FRANKLIN: We're some pretty hard-core do-it-yourself people.

CHAMPION: So, this is my goal in life and another new year's resolution. Let's just start making them.

SIDNER: You got a lot of them.

CHAMPION: I would like to marry a husband who is like, let me put something on the grill. Because I bet you that is why --

FRANKLIN: And then a week later, it will be tender.

CHAMPION: Yes, exactly. Can we get that? Can we get that happening for us?

FRANKLIN: Let me make some calls.

CHAMPION: OK, thank you.

SIDNER: Or you could just order Franklin's and, like, chill.

FRANKLIN: Well, Franklin's and chill. It's kind of like a term the kids are using these days.

SIDNER: Oh God. Did I just --

CHAMPION: Netflix and chill.

SIDNER: Aaron Franklin, amazing. This, I cannot wait to grub (ph). You guys don't want to see all that.

CHAMPION: They don't.

SIDNER: And we have an incredible performance is coming up, Enrique Iglesias is going to show you his staff.

CHAMPION: His stuff?


SIDNER: We have everything, we can bailando. We can eat brisket.

CHAMPION: Oh look at you, OK.

SIDNER: OK, bailando.

FRANKLIN: I'm full.

CHAMPION:: You didn't eat anything?

SIDNER: This is wonderful. Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue, amazing.

CHAMPION: Thank you so much.

FRANKLIN: Thank you.

SIDNER: We're going to have so much more for you. You just saw Enrique Iglesias. We are going to have Miranda Lambert. We're going to have Darius Rucker, so good.

CHAMPION: Darius Rucker, so good. Hootie and the Blowfish, they're on tour again. We are excited.

SIDNER: And we are here in Austin, having a fabulous time. We are going to be right back.



SIDNER: You're looking at the gorgeous downtown Austin.

CHAMPION: Beautiful.

SIDNER: We're like, what, 14 minutes -- my math is --

CHAMPION: You're a journalist. Let's not do the math. Let's not.

SIDNER: Fourteen minutes until the countdown, again?

CHAMPION: Fourteen minutes until we bring it to them.

SIDNER: We are in the Central Time Zone. It's soi beautiful. It is 50 degrees. It feels so good. Sorry, New York. It feels so good here.

CHAMPION: Doesn't feel bad. You can see your breath just a little.

SIDNER: Just a little.

CHAMPION: But it's just, like, a nice feel.

SIDNER: That's the hot Cheetos.

CHAMPION: Or the brisket, but we won't even get into that right now. Right? But it's been beautiful, and everyone has been so loving and kind. Is it the new year? Are we celebrating?

SIDNER: There is a fabulous crowd down here. Hey, Austin! We are in the Austin city limits. You know who is also beautiful, kind, and can dance?

CHAMPION: You did tell me this off-camera, about this gentleman.

SIDNER: Boris Sanchez.

CHAMPION: OK. SIDNER: He is in Miami serving up New Year's Day feast. You know what, Boris? Let me tell you something. When I saw you pretending that you needed to be taught how to dance, I literally turned to her.

CHAMPION: She said, he can do this and this, and he's pretending.

SIDNER: He is pretending. I said, he knows exactly what to do.

SANCHEZ: Sara -- Sara.

SIDNER: What was that all about?

SANCHEZ: I was rusty. I was rusty. Look, I was rusty. I was rusty.

Sara and Cari, it is such a pleasure to be with you. I haven't done that since I was 15 years old.

You know the pride of Miami lives down the street from here. You grew up there, Sara, Phil.

Hey, listen, I wanted to share something special with you guys. And first off, I have to say, I have to say, I'm really sorry if this offends any of our vegan and vegetarian friends, but this is part of our culture, our Latin tradition.

I have my friend Renee here from Ball and Chain, world-famous bar in Miami, to explain why, on very significant holidays, Cubans, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, people from all sorts of places in Latin America, they did a hole in the ground, and they roast a pig in a cahachina (ph). We have one right here.

Renee, what does this mean to you as a Cuban American?

RENEE: Well, here at ball and chain we love to celebrate the Cuban culture. And this is the epitome of Cuban culture, a lutron (ph), on Nochebuena on New Year's Eve, maybe even on Thanksgiving.

Look at that right there.

So, us Cubans, we look forward to that one day of the year. Right? In Cuba, it's not every day you can eat this, but rather the family you bring everyone from the neighborhood and you get together and you eat and you feast on a delicious lutron (Ph). And here we are at the famous Ball and Chain with the best lutron (ph) in town.

SANCHEZ: It is truly a special thing. You bring the neighborhood together, that sense of community, that sense of belonging. And we're about to break pork.

RENEE: We're about to break pork.

SANCHEZ: What do you think? Can we try it?

RENEE: Let's do it, the Cuban way. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SANCHEZ: I will toss it back to you, Sara and Cari, thank you so much. I'll save some for you if you want.

SIDNER: That looks so good.

CHAMPION: Please do.

SIDNER: Please tell you and your friend, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

CHAMPION: Buena nueva.

All right, guys. Now we are joined by actor and "Dancing with the Stars" winner, got to be specific, season 13, not the laters but the earliers. The earliers.


CHAMPION: J.R. Martinez.

J.R. MARTINEZ, SEASON 13 WINNER OF "DANCING WITH THE STARS": What's up, ladies? Welcome to Austin.

CHAMPION: Happy New Year from the East.

MARTINEZ: Happy new year. Thanks for having me. How are you guys liking Austin?

CHAMPION: We love Austin.

MARTINEZ: It's great, right? And I didn't know you speak Spanish.


SIDNER: I grew up in Miami, Boris grew up in Miami, so --

MARTINEZ: You got Spanglish.

SIDNER: Yes. Yes.

CHAMPION: Same, I grew up in L.A., so Spanglish here.

MARTINEZ: People at home know Spanglish, too.

CHAMPION: We know the Spanglish.

MARTINEZ: We can make this work. But you're going to be here with me.

SIDNER: You have an incredible, incredible story. You've been through it.


SIDNER: Can you give us a little sense of kind of what you went through and how you came out the other side? And now you're inspiring people with your motivational speaking. Like, people come to try and get a clue as to how to get out of their own stuff, I will say.

MARTINEZ: The first thing is, you got to go through it. You've got to go through it. You've got to lean in.

So many of us spend so much time -- and I did, too -- early in my recovery, just trying to avoid it, just trying to run away from it. Because it felt too uncomfortable for me to do it, and address it.

And finally, when I learned to, like, lean into it and understand that I had every capability to actually go through it, I came out on the other side with so many lessons and so many gifts and so many valuable things that I could pass onto other people.

But listen, I was in the military. I was 19 years old when I was injured overseas in Iraq. You know, I spent more time on "Dancing with the Stars" that I did on active duty in the military.

My military career was cut very short, and I spent three years in a hospital about 70 miles down the road, recovering in San Antonio, Texas.

CHAMPION: Three years?

MARTINEZ: Three years.

CHAMPION: I was going to say, can you give us just -- I know it's television, but give us a little summary of what happened to you, for folks that aren't familiar.

MARTINEZ: So, I was driving a Humvee through a city called Karbala in Iraq, and the front left tire of the Humvee that I was driving ran over a roadside bomb.

And I was trapped inside of the Humvee, and I was engulfed in flames. You can look at me on camera. You can understand that I sustained some burns throughout my body.

But, you know, for so many years after my injury, my identity was purely a burn victim. That's what I said. I was a burn victim. That's what people told me. You're a disabled veteran. And I just embraced that. I just, like, that's what I am.

And when I became part of the burn community, I realized that I'm not a victim. I'm a burn survivor. And I'm not a disabled veteran. I'm a veteran.

And I'm not somebody that has a disability. I'm somebody that -- this disses the "dis" in disability and proves to the world that I got nothing but ability.

And honestly, "Dancing with the Stars" was my opportunity to show the world that I'm so much more than what they see on the surface. It give people a chance to get inside into J.R.'s personality. And I'm a clown, and I'm joking around.

SIDNER: And now you're an actor, too.

CHAMPION: You're an actor, too.

SIDNER: Taking things to the next level.

CHAMPION: You went from "Dancing with the Stars" to being a main character on "All My Children."


CHAMPION: No acting experience.

MARTIENZ: Here's the crazy thing -- here's, like so people -- listen, it's New Year's. Everyone is doing vision boards. Everyone is talking about goals for '24 and all this stuff, spending $5,000 on magazines just so they can cut them up. Stick them to a board, whatever. I get it. Whatever you got to do, if it works.

CHAMPION: You're speaking to me.

MARTINEZ: So let me tell you this quick story. So about three months after I was injured, I was in the hospital recovering and my mom (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE). And I used to watch novellas with my mom every night in the hospital.

SIDNER: The drama is so good.

MARTINEZ: It was so good, you don't even got it to speak Spanish to know what's going on.

SIDNER: Someone is in trouble.

MARTINEZ: And I told my mom one day, I said, Mom, one day I's going to be on a soap opera.

I told her this, and she said, what do you mean? I said, I don't know. I'm going to have a beautiful love interest. I don't know, I'm going to be on a soap opera.

And five years later in 2008, I get an email to become -- to addition to become an actor on a soap opera called "All My Children." And that's where my life completely changed.

But the biggest thing I want people to understand about that is, like, you've got to throw things out into the world, ladies and gentlemen. You've got a focus on what you can control. You can't allow yourself to be so consumed by things you can't control, things that may or may not happen. You've got to focus on what you have, how you show up. Throw it out into the world, your wildest dreams. Whatever it is you want for this year. Protect your energy. Protect yourself. Set up boundaries. Cut people out of your life.

CHAMPION: Let's go! Let's go! Let's go.

MARTINEZ: I'm saying, I mean, there are some toxic people out there. We don't need those people in our lives, you know?

CHAMPION: Are we not inspired? I do -- I do know this. We were talking about his story and going on his Instagram page, and all of the things that you talk about you lived. I argue -- I would say when you were in that hospital when that nurse said to you, Can you talk to other burn victims --


CHAMPION: -- you saw how you encouraged others. That's what we need, I think, in the world.

MARTINEZ: Listen, I think the biggest thing, Cari, is we overthink things as human beings. And what you realize we've got to really be doing on the route is just showing up.

CHAMPION: That's right.

MARTINEZ: Just showing up. You don't always have the words. You don't always have the right thing to say. You don't always start overthinking it, because you never show up, because you spent so much of your time overthinking it.

CHAMPION: In your head.

MARTINEZ: And I just showed up. And literally, that's what I've been doing for the last 20 years, is just showing up. And now I have a beautiful wife, Diana, beautiful daughter, Lauren, my son, Leo.


I mean, I have a beautiful life. I'm getting to travel the world as a motivational speaker. And I'm getting to meet so many amazing people, and I'm getting to just share my story, share all these little experiences that I have had over the last 20 years of life, and just share it with people.

SIDNER: You have no idea how many people you have helped with this, J.R.

MARTINEZ: Well, thank you, Sara. Mucho gracias, Sara.

SIDNER: I can roll my "r's"

MARTINEZ: That was good! That was good.

CHAMPION: You showed up to the new year.

SIDNER: We are literally minutes away. I count five, four, three, two, one.

MARTINEZ: Now you've got to go, tres, dos, uno. Yes, yes, yes.

SIDNER: Darius Rucker is coming up.

CHAMPION: We'll be right back in just a few moments.


CHAMPION: I know, right?

SIDNER: Look at that crowd. We're talking thousands of people out here. It is beautiful weather. I know it was not your temperature. It is mine.

CHAMPION: I'm doing the cold dance up here, but that's OK. It's fine.

SIDNER: We are about a minute and a half away from the new year.

CHAMPION: The new year.

SIDNER: This time, 2024. The East Coast has already enjoyed their time. It's now our time. And then the West Coast.

CHAMPION: Say that again, it's now what?

SIDNER: It's our time.


SIDNER: It's our time. We are a minute away. We are here in Austin. There is a wonderful crowd back there, waiting and waiting, because they know it's about to be time.

CHAMPION: Hello! It's almost time, y'all. You already? They're ready; they're ready.

SIDNER: All sorts of things, because we're going to dance. We're going to do a little -- little two-step.

CHAMPION: A two-step.

SIDNER: We're doing a little two-step. We might sing a song you don't know about.


SIDNER: I might bring you in a little Dolly Parton.

CHAMPION: Listen, I love me -- I love me some Dolly. She can do no wrong.

SIDNER: But we are literally 30 seconds away --


SIDNER: -- from the new year here, and the crowd is getting all ginned up. You know, this city has the slogan, "Keep Austin Weird," and I am so weird, I belong here.

CHAMPION: No, you're not weird!

SIDNER: No, no, no, I'm weird.


CHAMPION: Don't say that.

SIDNER: I like weird things, I do wear --

CHAMPION: You are on pink, you look perfect.

SIDNER: Wait, it is happening. Here we go!

SIDNER & CHAMPION: Ten, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, happy New Year!


SIDNER: They are doing it different!

CHAMPION: Look, there it is.

SIDNER: That is gorgeous!

CHAMPION: Oh, my goodness. Happy New Year, you guys! Happy New Years to everyone, to you all.

SIDNER: That is gorgeous.

CHAMPION: This is so beautiful. Can you believe it is 2024? When did it become 2024?

SIDNER: Look at that, come on, Austin, bring it! This is beautiful. You are looking at downtown, back there.

CHAMPION: The entire crowd is obviously doing what they do best, they are watching the fireworks, they are enjoying this moment. Loved ones are hugging, lovers are kissing, friends are holding hands, and we are celebrating the New Year in only the way we can here in Austin.

SIDNER: Oh, look at that.

CHAMPION: Dear friend, dear friend. I am happy to be here with you and with the audience at home. Happy New Year to everyone.

SIDNER: And here is the deal -- we are going to go to our own Miranda Lambert from her velvet radio residency in Vegas. Happy New Year!



CHAMPION: Happy New Year, everyone, from Austin. The fireworks are still going on, here. How amazing is it right now? What we are going to do is let you know, not only do the performances continue, we have performances. I love the Jonas Brothers.

Right now, we're going to send it out to one of your favorites because you are a country music gal.

SIDNER: I do like country.

CHAMPION: Darius Rucker from earlier in the broadcast, check it out everyone.

Happy New Year from Austin!



SIDNER: All right, that was Darius Rucker. We love him. And you heard earlier from Miranda Lambert, who is a Texas girl.


CHAMPION: Yeah, Tyler, Texas, not too far from here, yes, the region, the region. I'm close.

SIDNER: Coming up, we are going to be dancing -- you want to learn how to do the two step? We are going to learn, it might be embarrassing, but we are going to do it. And we've got a special guest to join us as well. Just come right back, because we are still enjoying ourselves right here. And we want you, too.


SIDNER: We are back here inside the Austin City limit, people. It is already 2024 here, and we are enjoying ourselves like nobody's business. We got country. Austin is one of the best music towns and barbecue towns, and a lot of other things.

CHAMPION: And hat towns.

SIDNER: And tat towns, they've got. And boot towns, you've seen my boots.

CHAMPION: Our boots are nice.

SIDNER: I'm wearing a boot.

CHAMPION: So we are having such a good time. And we know somebody else who is enjoying his best life. Gary Tuchman is in Las Cruces, New Mexico, enjoy himself like none other.

Gary, what's going on and there?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cari and Sara, we are here to celebrate in Mountain Time zone in a little over 40 minutes. And we're in the beautiful city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. A downtown party, we want to give you a look at the Memphis Band, that's what they're called, but they're not from Memphis, Tennessee, there from Mexico.

But they're entertaining here in downtown las cruces. New Mexico is the Chile capital of the world. I'm not just making that up, it says that on the state license plates. And because of that, we are here for the chili, it's a 20 foot chili, you can't eat it, it's made of steel, 90 feet in the air, at the stroke of midnight it will be lowered to celebrate the New Year here in New Mexico.


Why is it so important here, the chili? It's not just to eat, it is a tradition. It's a passion. And because of that passion, and because of that passion, what they've told everybody here is to vote. And, look at that, chili to come down will be green or red. People are voting online, thousands of people are here right now, listening to the music. But when that chili comes down, we will know whether it's green or red.

I am no foodie, I will tell you that, Sara and Cari. But what I've learned is that when a chili is green it is not yet ripe. When it's red, it's ripe, and it's sweet.

So I am voting red. My colleagues are voting green. And that's the situation. Will it be read? Will it be green? You will have to tune in at midnight to find out. Midnight, Mountain Time.

One more thing I want to tell you, we know the ball drop in Times Square. Every year I cover unique drop in the United States.

Last year, it was the Boise, Idaho, potato drop. But this drop, we've never had a drop so hot and spicy as this one. And I had a lot of chili last night, and I can tell you, Sara and Cari, I am still recovering from it.

Back to you, guys.

SIDNER: I was going to say, how is your stomach doing, Gary? Because I know you don't know -- you don't eat a lot of hot food.

CHAMPION: I'm green chili.

SIDNER: I'm chili very day, I really love green chili, I like them hot, punch you in the face, make you really feel that they're there. But that's just me.

Gary, it looks like a lot of fun there. And I'm loving New Mexico, a lot of fun in that. Council we will be back with you before -- before midnight, because we have to see the chili drop. But we have a really cool interview.

CHAMPION: Well, we had this conversation, you know, in the world of sports, sometimes I dabble in that world.

SIDNER: You dabble.

CHAMPION: So the city of Austin, while low-key celebrating for this happy New Year with us, they really are celebrating something that will be taking place in just a few hours. Our next guest is the football coach for the pride of Austin, Texas. Texas Longhorns, it's the hook 'em.

SIDNER: The anniversary of Florida is going to tweet me right now. But we're in Texas, we're at Austin.

CHAMPION: Steve Sarkisian had a few moments to sit down with me and talk to us about how he revived that program. They're in the semifinals of the college football playoffs. Take a listen, everyone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHAMPION: Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian here. Coach, can I call you Sark? I love that name for you, it feels very familiar to me.


CHAMPION: Okay, good. While, first off, hours before what I would like to say is, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, arguably the biggest -- one of the biggest games of your career. Where are you and your team mentally?

SARKISIAN: I think we are in a good spot. This has been a heck of a jury for our guys this season. And it's been a journey of over 3 years since we got to Austin. I feel we are peaking at the right time in our players are excited for the moment.

CHAMPION: Earlier this year,, to me, you had a pivotal moment, a seminal moment if you will, when you beat Nick Saban and Alabama. How did that feel for you?

SARKISIAN: You know, that was an amazing moment. I've been an assistant for coach Saban for 3 years at 2 different times and we won a national championship together. And he is a great mentor of mine. I owe so much of what we have now to him and the opportunity he gave me to be back coaching again and the opportunities to be a coordinator and to do those things. But I also know how hard it is to go in to Tuscaloosa and win.

CHAMPION: I'm really curious, when you guys spoke, what was the trash talk like? Were you like I've always been better than you?


CHAMPION: Or were you like move over, your time is done? Can you please tell me, the trash talk to Saban, what was it like?

SARKISIAN: Not so much trash talk on the football field. I didn't -- I kind of reserved my trash talking at that moment and just kind of paid my respects to him.

CHAMPION: That's very respectful. The fans here don't want you to respect him though. You do know that? They're ready for it all.


SARKISIAN: Well, we are going to try. Like I said, this is a great opportunity for us and I love this for a Longhorn Nation that we are in the situation that we are in. I know Austin is buzzing tonight just as New Orleans is buzzing tonight for the ball game tomorrow. So appreciate all the support, everybody in Austin has given us for this ball game.

CHAMPION: What is it that you love about being in Austin?

SARKISIAN: Honestly, first of all, it is so cool that you guys are in Austin. What an amazing city that we have here. I really believe a couple of things that are unique to Austin are, one, there's something for everybody in this town.


If you love music, if you love barbecue, if you love to be in the outdoors, if you like to get on the water and water ski, jet ski, whatever that looks like, if you like the college vibe, because it's still a college town here with the University of Texas.

CHAMPION: Before I go, top two, top three things I need to do before I leave Austin? Outside of barbecue, I'm having some barbecue, what else should I do?

SARKISIAN: Yeah, you've got to do that. And it's unfortunate that we don't have a home game, because I think the best thing to do in Austin is go to a Texas longhorn football game. I do think you need to do, kind of do the walk, south Congress during the day. I just think there's something unique about that.

But again, you've got to come back in the fall for a Longhorn football game.

CHAMPION: I'm taking you up on that promise. Meanwhile, good luck. Later on, I am really excited about what's going to happen with this game. And of course, let me just say it, I am rooting for. You are not supposed to pick a side, but I'm rooting for, you Sark. Thank you for taking the time and join me here.

SARKISIAN: I appreciate it. And for all -- and the last thing, Cari, for you, Cari, the last thing for you I'd say is, you've got to get your hook 'em right. If you are going to be an awesome, you have to throw your horns of right. So hook out there.


SIDNER: Hook 'em.

CHAMPION: I'm a full Bruin. I just want to say that. I am Bruins through and through, I know how to hook them now. So I just want to say congratulations early on. The city is buzzing about this.

SIDNER: You can't help it, it's a football town.

CHAMPION: It's a football town, and you know what who else is in town to talk about the town?

SIDNER: The mayor?

CHAMPION: The mayor of Austin is with us, Kirk Watson.

Thank you so much for joining us.


CHAMPION: Thanks for having us. Tell us about tonight. WATSON: I'm so happy over here. What a great night. We've got a wonderful crowd. Beautiful music in the live music capital of the world, and of course, a great fireworks display. We really appreciate all of you here and sharing it with the rest of the country.

SIDNER: See, not all mayors invite us in kindly because we're not always so nice here.

WATSON: Well, as long as you learn how to hook 'em while you are here.

CHAMPION: Just from the show, just from the show.

SIDNER: I want ask you, you were mayor in 1997. It is now 2024.

WATSON: Yes, it is, yes.

SIDNER: It is now 2024. You ran again?

WATSON: Yes, that's how much I love this city. You know, Austin is a special place. I moved here in 1981 for one year. And everybody kept telling me you will never want to leave. And with about 3 months, we said we never want to leave. And it's been a great place to raise our family.

And with all that's going on in this town right now, and the future that the city of Austin has, it's a place to be.

SIDNER: I was here about a decade ago, I hate to admit it, but it's been that long since I've been to Austin. And I drove up, and I do not recognize -- I was like, where was the state house? Because I cannot find mine -- it's exploding.

WATSON: Well, it's a different town than even ten years ago, and certainly from 1997 when I was mayor the first-time. But it's a tremendous town with a lot of vitality, a lot of -- I refer to the University of Texas, we've talked about unity here a lot tonight and the truth is it's like a fountain of youth. Every year, new kids come here, new people with new energy, new ideas, new music, new thought. And that just adds to the culture and the wonder of this city.

SIDNER: I had an opportunity to walk downtown, and I saw these new stores, I love shopping, and I thought to myself not only is there live music and it felt very progressive, I wonder if you view the city the way some people say. This is the New York of the south, if you will. This is why we've invited ourselves here.

WATSON: I have not heard the New York of the south, but I consider it to kind of be the capital of the country as we're going into that title. We're becoming a place where you can find any sort of business you want, you know, years ago we were labeled Silicon Hill because of the hill country of Texas. And what we are doing in technology. That has only exploded.

Of course, you see that in different areas as well. You know, we now have a medical school at the University of Texas at Austin. So we are seeing in medicine and bioengineering and all these other things. With Tesla moving, here we are now into automotive.

So, in this -- in this next year, one of the things you will see us do is we are going to create an academy and workforce so that we have people dealing with our infrastructure and mobility and all that's going on in terms of the building so that we can build up the infrastructure that this city needs.

SIDNER: Yeah, it's going to need it, because a lot of people are moving here as well.

CHAMPION: You are here, Austin next.


CHAMPION: OK, why not? Risking it all.

SIDNER: Come home.

WATSON: You need to be back here every couple of years.

CHAMPION: On the way.

WATSON: We need to see you all hear every year.

SIDNER: Don't worry, I'm going to be back with that Franklin brisket.

WATSON: That's right, the barbecue, the Mexican food, yeah, come back.


SIDNER: The music, the music is --

WATSON: Yeah, I heard you want to learn how to two-step.

CHAMPION: She knows how to step.

WATSON: You need to get to the broken --

CHAMPION: Show them a little bit what we did earlier.

SIDNER: We don't have it here yet.

WATSON: Don't do it on TV until you're ready.

SIDNER: We can still do this.


CHAMPION: Got back.

SIDNER: Mayor, thank you so much for coming.

WATSON: My pleasure.

CHAMPION: Thank you so much, Mayor. (CROSSTALK)

SIDNER: We love it.

WATSON: We appreciate y'all being here. Happy New Year.

CHAMPION: Happy New Year. Happy New Year.

SIDNER: Coming up, special gas performance and we are going to honor the great Tina Turner. But first the Barton Hills Youth Choir from right here in Austin, Texas.



SIDNER: We are getting down here, downtown Austin. We are all minutes away from Mountain Time Zone, the countdown. But first, let's go to Ceelo Green performing his "I'll be around". .


SIDNER: Okay, okay, Ceelo.

CHAMPION: First of, all I think you are singing louder than he was. You are a little, louder and I enjoyed your rendition as well.

SIDNER: I can backup.

But, look, there are so many people that we lost. We cannot ring in the New Year without remembering some of the wonderful souls that we lost in the world of entertainment.

CHAMPION: So I wanted to take a moment to talk about Tina Turner. She is legendary. She passed away in May and I remember it like it was the other day. The entire music community, if not the world, had felt touched by Tina Turner and how special she was.

SIDNER: And everything that she went through and then surpassed.

CHAMPION: And surpassed.

SIDNER: And survived.

CHAMPION: And survived.

SIDNER: And thrived.

CHAMPION: And thrived.

And all of the words, and I remember, I can speak to her, just the woman that she is, I remember my mom taking me to see the movie, and I don't know how we feel about that, but she took me to see the movie. And I remember her saying to me this woman is a survivor and she can accomplish anything and so can you.


CHAMPION: And I felt as if most people who met her, men, women, whatever, you felt that from her in her spirit because it was so special.

SIDNER: She was powerful.


SIDNER: Let's listen.



SIDNER: That was the hit with Rod Stewart and Tina Turner.

CHAMPION: Tina Turner, we honor you, we lost her in May, and she is such a legend, and we are so happy we were able to do that, right?

SIDNER: She changed a lot of people's lives. Her story changed a lot of women's lives in particular.

I do want to talk about something life-threatening that's coming up.


SIDNER: It might be embarrassing.

CHAMPION: Well, you -- I was just told by the mayor I did not have it. This is true, I did not have it. Straight up guys. I tried to two- step. We had a free dance lesson with the winner from "Dancing of the Stars", season 13.

SIDNER: They're setting us up here, setting us up. They won dancing with the stars, and they want us to learn while people are watching.

Anyway, it's going to happen.

CHAMPION: It's going to happen.

SIDNER: You are welcome.

CHAMPION: Or not. You are welcome or not. We will be right back in just a few moments. Happy New Year, from Austin.



SIDNER: This could be the moment where we embarrass ourselves, there I embarrassed myself. But I don't mind doing that for the cameras. I don't care. My mother will be upset, but that's fine.

Beth Coffey (ph) is here. She's going to make sure we look good.

J.R. is already losing his mind.

J.R. MARTINEZ, ACTOR: Hold on, I thought we were doing the honky- tonk.

SIDNER: Yeah, come on.

MARTINEZ: I've got to bring out my cowboy hat.

CHAMPION: Okay, so much better. It's nice, it's nice.

SIDNER: We've got our hats on, I've got my boots on, you have your boots on.

CHAMPION: We're ready?

SIDNER: You have your red bottoms on, that's close. You do this for a living, you teach people how to dance.

BETH COFFEY, DANCE INSTRUCTOR: That's right. I teach three nights a week at a place called the white horse. It's fabulous. My husband's a musician.

SIDNER: I love it.

COFFEY: So okay, we are going to partner up. This is a partner dance. So you've got to dance with me. Lovely.

Oh, perfect. That's lovely.

You already got it.

We already got it. You are going to stand right here with your right hand up. Your left hand my right hand. You are going to stay right here and there we go. This is called a joystick. And then this hand goes up here on my shoulder. Lovely.

MARTINEZ: Okay, sorry. We are in trouble.

COFFEY: Okay, Sara, when you are ready to, go you're going to use this. We're going to two-step this way.


COFFEY: Y'all feel that beat?

SIDNER: Let's go. You tell us where to go?

MARTINEZ: Here we go, we got it. No, no, two, one. Ono, dos, ono. There we go, Sara. How do we do the turn? How do we do the turn?

COFFEY: Okay, left this part up, like this. And then push it front. Push it to the right there. Oh, there you go.

MARTINEZ: I am addicted. This way. . Two, two, one, two.

(MUSIC) SIDNER: I think we lost the plot.

MARTINEZ: We're having a good time, here we go!

SIDNER: We don't do that?

MARTINEZ: Take the --


MARTINEZ: Oh, you're going to dip me? You are going to dip me? I'm dipping! Here we go!

SIDNER: We did it.

MARTINEZ: Beth, what leg do I kick up?

COFFEY: Okay, so like this.


COFFEY: That's it.



MARTINEZ: Cari, this is your next calling, girl.

SIDSNER: Yeah, you got it.

Okay. This husband is in a band.

COFFEY: That is a well intentioned band.

CHAMPION: Wait a second, why am I so winded?


COFFEY: He plays the guitar. And they recorded this here in Austin. And in Austin, we are all about live music and line dancing. Obviously, clearly. We make it fun, we make it simple, it's tradition.

And just know, Kirk Watson actually said I'm the ambassador of Texas two step.


COFFEY: So this is what we do in Austin. And now -- oh, here it is. We've got to two step this is 2024.

CHAMPION: Beth Coffey is in Austin, please check are out. She's absolutely amazing.

SIDNER: Look at this, can we do the spin?

COFFEY: Oh you mean like this? Turn.

SIDNER: This is one woman stuff. She is good.

COFFEY: Just a few moments. Happy New Year from Austin.

It's two, it's two, it's a one. There we go.



SIDNER: We are back live in Austin, Texas. And by the way, it's 2024 already. We've been here for a minute.

We're standing in a mobile honky-tonk. CHRIS MARSH: The world's only.

SIDNER: The world's only -- listen, don't get it twisted, the world's only mobile honky-tonk.

CHAMPION: It's in the Guinness Book of World records. Is that a record? No, oh, okay.

SIDNER: We'll, if you're the only one, why not?

CHAMPION: Yeah. Well, congratulations, Chris. Folks at home are asking what is a mobile honky-tonk? So, for those not familiar, please explain.

MARSH: Well, it is a honky-tonk on wheels. You can take it anywhere and have this kind of feeling any where you are. That's what I was going for.

CHAMPION: So you serve drinks when people do this. So if I call you and say I'm having a birthday party, I need a mobile honky-tonk, what shows up for me and what do I do?

MARSH: You get me as a bartender.

SIDNER: Just a bartender?


MARSH: You get the experience of a Texas honky-tonk right at your door.

SIDNER: And you've got some of the drinks here, some of the greats. You've got Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson --

MARSH: Willie, Johnny Cash, of course, always.

SIDNER: I know you are a big Johnny cash fan. Can you tell us about your favorite song with Johnny Cash and why you started doing this?

MARSH: Well, my favorite song has always been "Mean Eyed Cat". And it was a song my dad used to play me to get me to come into the house. SIDNER: I love that.

CHAMPIION: To make you come home?

MARSH: Yeah, to come on in. My brother and I would be playing out in the yard. He had a bunch of records and he loved Johnny Cash.

SIDNER: There is a lot to love. And that song is quick, fast, it makes you want to jump up and down and dance.

MARSH: You bet.

SIDNER: Love it.

MARSH: And now it is a honky-tonk here in Austin and it's still going. And it's going to be 20 this year.

CHAMPION: It is going to be 20 this year? Congratulations.

MARSH: It's got some great memories.

SIDNER: When you take this around, did you have some memorable moments, taking it around to folks?

MARSH: Ooh yeah, we had, just driving it around as a memorable moment.

SIDNER: Because y'all have been looking at the outside of this. It looks like a little wooden shack, right?

MARSH: It does. The inspiration was Buck Owens guitar, the red white and blue. And then "Hello Trouble" is one of his favorite songs.

CHAMPION: So this is Hello Trouble hall, as we dawned it. What do you call it a haul?

MARSH: Because I haul it around.

CHAMPION: But it's felt H-A-L-L. A different kind of hall.

OK. What are you selling? I know that sometimes you said people show up and you're a bartender if you will, but what's your best drink or whether people request?

MARSH: I mean, usually just beer.

SIDNER: Whiskey?

MARSH: Whiskey and beer, I mean --

CHAMPION: Beers and sunshine, that's the difference. Sunshine. You said that earlier.

MARSH: Yeah, there you go, absolutely, yeah, beers and drinks. There were go.

That's the only B.S. we want. All right, we like it.

SIDNER: Can you give me -- do you sing?


SIDNER: Darn. I thought we were --


SIDNER: All right, I will leave it alone.

CHAMPION: Go ahead, Sara, do it. Sara, don't be afraid, don't be afraid.


MARSH: That was good.

SIDNER: I love dolly.

CHAMPION: No more?

SIDNER: She's out there living her own life. I want her to know that I love her --


SIDNER: Barely, we're being told to wrap, because it's heard to listen to --

CHAMPION: OK, got it, got it.

SIDNER: And guess what? Because it's about to be the New Year in New Mexico, where Gary Tuchman is.

Take it away, Gary.

CHAMPION: Gary, happy New Year, almost.

TUCHMAN: Happy New Year, Sara. Happy New Year, Cari.

We are a short time away from New Years in the Mountain Time zone of the United States. And we are surrounded by thousands of people here in downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico, the second largest city in the state of New Mexico, here in the southern part of new Mexico, about 40 miles north of the Mexican border.

And right here, I gigantic chili pepper. Right now, it is white. It is 90 feet in the air. It is 19 feet long. It is not edible, it's made of metal and steel and chrome. But 30 seconds before the New Year begins here in the mountain time, so it is going to come down. And here's the big thing. It's a bone of potentially what color it will be.

Take a look right now, people all over the United States have voted what color it should be when it comes down, green or red?


Who says green?


Who says red?


TUCHMAN: What we have learned is green is an unripe chili. Red is ripe and sweeter. And it's about to start it's weighing down, let's see what color it turns out to be. It is starting to come down right now. It is red, green, yellow, or blues. We don't know what color has won yet.

But the voting has taken place for a couple of weeks now. And here we go, for a countdown to the New Year.


TUCHMAN: And it is green that has one. This is the tenth annual chili drop in Las Cruces. And this is the sixth time it has been green. Four times it has been red. And the Mountain Time zone, it is now the year 2024.

So we wish everyone in the Mountain Time zone and everyone around the world watching CNN a very wonderful New Year's to you. Happy 2024. We hope it's full of good health, good fortune, good happiness for every single one of you watching us, and that includes you, Sara and Cari. Happy New Year to you.

SIDNER: Oh, Gary, happy New Year to you.

CHAMPION: Happy New Year to you, Gary. Thank you so much. They picked green, they knew.

SIDNER: They picked green, they knew it was good.

CHAMPION: They knew what was right. As we get ready to wrap, up the time that we have had with you in Austin we are so happy run in the New Years with us.

I want to thank you, Chris Marsh and the mobile honky-tonk.

MARSH: You bet.

CHAMPION: You guys can get it anywhere you want to, just phone the honky-tonk.

MARSH: Yes, Hello Trouble hall.

SIDNER: And that is me, trouble hall.

And, J.R., thank you for the dance. I almost hurt you there for a minute.

MARTINEZ: That dip was funny. That dip is memorable.

It's going to be my new profile picture.


SIDNER: Can we be a "Dance with the Stars" team? Do you think we can win again?

CHAMPION: Another hour or so, yes.

SIDNER: Thank you for being here. And for all of you --

CHAMPION: Can we get a song? Can you sing?

SIDNER: We want to sing you out.

So for all of you who are at home, who are with loved ones or who are lonely or who are feeling down, we are here for you. We understand, and that sawyer having fun this holiday.

CHAMPION: Yeah, we can relate.

SIDNER: It's hard sometimes on the holiday.

CHAMPION: We can relate.

SIDNER: We're so thankful you here for us.

CHAMPION: Thank you for joining us. Happy New Year. Happy New Year to you my friend, and enjoy the ones that are around you, OK?

Let's come in for a hug. Come in.


CHAMPION: Happy New Year.

SIDNER: Goodbye.