Trae Lindley was a high school senior working in a local Arkansas food mart when Paris Hilton sashayed in, wearing rhinestone heels. To his astonishment, the young, blond hotel heiress asked for his phone number.
"She was working at a gas station and me and some buddies went down there to meet her. We met them [Nicole and friend Nicole Richie] and she just liked me" Lindley said on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America.
Lindley, now an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Arkansas, dated the 22-year-old hotel heiress last spring while she was in Altus, Ark., shooting the Fox TV reality show The Simple Life with her best friend, Nicole Richie (daughter of singer Lionel Richie).
In a modern-day version of the show Green Acres, the two young women move in with a rural family. Without their usual cell phones and charge cards, they were faced with just wholesome living and a hard day's work on an Arkansas farm.
Hilton took a shine to Lindley, who was the homecoming king at his high school, and the two started dating. He thought she was a beautiful, fun woman who liked to have a good time.
"It was just wild seeing something like her," Lindley said.
During their time together, the farm boy and the socialite went bowling and to the movies. And after he started hanging around with Hilton during the reality show, Lindley's girlfriend broke up with him.
Lindley said he became even more attracted to Hilton after he got a chance to know her.
"I saw the sweet side of her, Lindley said. "Most people don't see that … everyone criticizes her for how she is and I saw a different side of her when she came to Arkansas."
And while Lindley and Hilton are no longer dating, the two still keep in touch, he said.
Now that word of his dating Hilton is out, Lindley has gotten stares and whispers around his university campus. And video of he and Hilton kissing just aired on Tuesday night's show.
"People look at me differently," Lindley said. "I'll be walking around campus and get some stares."
Hilton gained some unwanted notoriety of her own, even before The Simple Life debuted, when a sex tape featuring herself and an old boyfriend surfaced on the Internet.
Lindley says he hasn't seen the tape and doesn't want to.