Actor John Schneider is waving a healthy carrot in front of his fans.

The star of OWN’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” has offered up a 90-day fitness challenge to Facebook followers of the series. The winner will be flown to Atlanta, where the Tyler Perry-helmed show is shot, for dinner with Schneider and others in the drama series’ cast, all expenses paid.

“There’s a great group on Facebook — The Addicts of The Haves and (the) Have Nots,” Schneider said recently from his sometimes-home in Holden. “I realized that if one of these folks could come to Atlanta, have dinner with Jim Cryer, that’s me (his character on the show), and perhaps a couple of other members of the cast, that they’d be willing to do just about anything for that opportunity.

“I thought it would be a great idea to combine what I now know about health and fitness with a contest that would enable somebody to not only get to come to Atlanta and have dinner and meet some of the members of their favorite show but really and truly to change their lives for the better forever.”

Schneider said he “was one of those fat kids” growing up but lost a good deal of weight at 16.

“And if it weren’t for that, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ wouldn’t have happened,” recalled the star of the 1979-1985 CBS series about the adventures of the hunky Duke boys of Hazzard County.

“And then you fast forward until I was 49, and crept up around 230-235 (pounds) again, and doing ‘Desperate Housewives’ (the ABC dramedy). I again lost a bunch of weight, but this time I lost it doing that crazy exercise program you see the infomercials for called P90X. About two years after I lost that weight, ‘The Haves and (the) Have Nots’ came about, so I could argue that two times my life changed drastically because I’d gotten into better shape.”

But it’s not just about landing that next role, Schneider emphasized.

“Now on the inside, every time since I started doing this, I’m 54 now, when I have a cast physical, the doctor takes his stethoscope off and says, ‘What in the hell are you doing? You’ve got the heart rate of a high school football player. What in the world are you doing?’”

Getting in shape has benefits besides living a longer, healthier life, Schneider said he believes.

“Honestly, when I lost that weight, I think something triggered in my brain when you start using your body differently and your blood starts flowing differently. I think that’s why I was able to write the 14 screenplays I wrote. I think it changes not just something in your metabolism, I think it changes something in your mind,” he said.

After P90X, the actor moved on to 90-day programs P90X2, P90X3 and P90XPlus. He’s now doing Beachbody’s Body Beast workout.

“I stressed to the group that it would be great if they went to my site and got one of my programs, but they can do Zumba, they can do yoga, they can do karate, they can do whatever they want. This is not a way for me to get them to buy into P90X, this is a way for me to, because I’ve done it, to help them change their lives through fitness.”

“The Addicts” are 57,637 strong and counting, and anyone can join the Facebook group, the first step in entering Schneider’s “Win Dinner with Judge Jim” challenge.

“It’s all about transformation. Find a program, take a ‘before’ picture, work out for 90 days, take an ‘after’ picture, and submit it,” he said.

An online vote by the group will determine the winner before Jan. 6 when the show is scheduled to return.

For more information on entering the challenge, which officially begins Monday, Sept 8, visit dinnerwithjudgejim.myinstapage.com.

ON THE INTERNET:

johnschneideronline.com

facebook.com/johnschneiderstudios