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Identical triplet interns turn heads on Capitol Hill

‘From a very early age we learned to compromise,’ the Osbornes say

Benjamin, Zachary and Nicholas Osborne pose outside the Russell Senate Office Building on Oct. 16. “Self-interested” politicians could learn a thing or two from triplets, they say.
Benjamin, Zachary and Nicholas Osborne pose outside the Russell Senate Office Building on Oct. 16. “Self-interested” politicians could learn a thing or two from triplets, they say. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Osborne triplets don’t fight often, and when they do it’s short-lived. But Benjamin, the youngest of the three, rocked the boat one recent Monday morning when he woke up and tried to add some flair to his wardrobe.

“I wanted to wear a striped shirt instead of a white shirt, and they basically ripped it off of me,” Benjamin said sheepishly. 

Surrounded by his brothers Nicholas and Zachary, he sat in a sunny courtyard on Capitol Hill, where the trio has worked as Senate interns — first for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and now in the office of South Carolina Republican Tim Scott.

The Osbornes, 28, don’t normally plan out their wardrobe, or their hairstyles, or how they wear their beards. But triplet telepathy is the real deal, they said, and an unspoken agreement usually emerges. When one goes rogue, the other two are there to exert majority rule and bring the rebel brother back in line.

“We do operate very well with a democratic two-thirds majority vote system,” said Benjamin, who along with his brothers was the picture of sartorial symmetry. Only their ties and pocket squares differed.

Benjamin, Nicholas and Zachary were a few minutes late to the interview that day because, as has become common in the halls of Congress — and really anywhere they go — they were stopped on their way by curious onlookers. “Oh, you’re the famous triplets on the Hill,” they often hear.

That fame has extended well beyond Washington. The trio has been profiled by the Daily Mail, “Today” and other media outlets as they’ve moved together through the world, from their childhood in Rocky Mount, N.C., to their undergraduate days at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, to studying abroad at Oxford University and beyond.

Now law students, the Osbornes spend their days in the Senate writing memos and attending hearings. And they navigate the chaos — a highlight, they said, was watching the historic vote on the House side to remove Speaker Kevin McCarthy — with a feeling of slight bewilderment. 

“We have a unique mindset because from a very early age we learned to compromise and to share,” Benjamin said. “And in politics, especially, it’s important to learn how to compromise because so many people are self-interested.”

The Osbornes are a package deal and have been since they were children. They work together, live together in Georgetown, worship together at Passion City Church, and study together at two universities in the nation’s capital — they’re pursuing MBAs at George Washington and law degrees at Georgetown. They share the same friends and enjoy the same hobbies. They complete each other’s sentences and often respond in unison to questions. Several family members can tell them apart by appearance, but only their father knows them by voice.

“We think in terms of ‘we,’ not ‘I.’ Our primary pronoun is ‘we,’” Zachary said.

The Osbornes are used to questions from curious observers. They generally stick together, going to the same universities and working at the same jobs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The last time they were apart for more than two days was in middle school, when Benjamin went on a school trip to Washington, D.C., in sixth grade as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program. A year later, Nicholas and Zachary did the same. Between the trips, two things became clear: One, the brothers do not like to be apart. And two, they wanted to work on the Hill.

“Walking on the Hill, seeing the Capitol Dome for the first time, you can feel the importance and the weight of the place. I realized this is the place I need to be someday,” Benjamin said. 

“I knew right then that this was where I wanted to be in the future. It was immediate,” Nicholas added.

Getting there, or anywhere, as a trio is not always simple, though the Osbornes have had surprising success. All three brothers have sent their own applications to every job, university or internship they’ve ever gotten. Then Zachary, the middle brother and the one who has taken on a secretarial role, sends a postscript explaining their unusual situation. They haven’t been accepted to everything, but to date they’ve never split up.

“We have applied in our lifetimes to the same things and also different things,” Nicholas said. “But for some reason, God has kept us together. There has to be a purpose for all of this.”

The Osbornes take this idea of purpose seriously. They collectively subscribe to an ethos of public service, volunteering multiple days a week with their church while balancing their school work and two days a week interning on the Hill. 

The triplets’ Senate internship ends in December, and they’ll graduate from law school and business school in May. They’re not certain where they’ll go next, but they’re not ready to part ways just yet. And the sense that they need to be on the Hill hasn’t subsided.

“Not to speak badly about our peers, but most of them are going to go to private firms and they want to make a lot of money,” Zachary said. “But that’s just not what we’re interested in. I could not serve a firm just for the pursuit of profit. I want to serve other people and give back the best I can.”

“We could easily see ourselves coming back to the Hill,” Nicholas said.

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