Two genealogy DNA kits are put to the test with identical twins

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Chris and Nick Sweat

Fort Myers, Fla. Have you ever wondered where exactly you came from? At-home DNA kits are increasing in popularity and offer a glimpse into your family’s past. But do they work? We put two popular kits to the test. 

In this comparison we put AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA up against each other. For the test we decided to use identical twins. 

Chris Sweat is an FGCU beach volleyball coach, and his twin brother Nick Sweat, a former volleyball coach, is married to Olympian Brooke Sweat. They play and coach volleyball, taught high school and now sell real estate together. The brothers have a lot in common, including DNA. So much so, their mom used ankle bracelets when they were young to tell them apart.  

Chris and Nick work in real estate together, “A lot of people are like oh you guys are like the property brothers of real estate.” Chris said. 

And now, do people ever confuse them? They say, every day.

They know they’re family, but do they know where their family originally came from? 

Nick said “Our dad always tells us him and his dad and his dad’s dad, you know everyone’s always just been in Florida. Fourth or fifth generation cracker.”

We had these self-proclaimed Florida crackers take home DNA kits; One from AncestryDNA for $109, and one from Family Tree DNA for $92. 

Just to keep it anonymous, a producer and I submitted the DNA using our emails and only used first names to make sure there wasn’t an obvious link. 

“I’m really interested to see what it is. You hear people, ‘oh I’m full bloodied Italian.'” Chris said, adding “I have absolutely no idea. I can’t wait to find out.” 

The test takes seconds. 

A quick swab on the inside cheek then back in the envelope and out they go.  For these two, this test is fun. But, some at-home kits test to see if you’re predisposed to certain diseases.  

Chris and Nick Sweat

Similar to tests Mary Ann Orlang, nurse and genetic counselor, gives. “If we determine you do have this gene that makes you at high risk, we talk about recommendations.” Orlang said. 

She’s never used over the counter tests. But through a blood test, she can tell if you’re at risk for certain cancers like breast, ovarian and colon. 

When asked if more people having access to these types of tests would be beneficial, Orlang says “I would say know what you’re being tested for, once you start talking about diseases there’s a lot of implications so just be aware, talk to someone who knows about the testing you’re going through.” 

If you find out you’re predisposed to something, Orlang says get a second opinion from a medical professional.  

Weeks later, we got the results back for Chris and Nick, who wanted to find out their heritage.  


Surprise, surprise, they’re are brothers, and pretty much identical a that. And the first likely contact listed under each other’s profile – their twin.

Family Tree has them listed as mostly from the British Isles and Eastern Europe, and the numbers varied by one-percent. 

Ancestry said they were mostly Irish, with British a close second, and those results have a three percent variation.  

Nick is ready to celebrate his heritage saying, “We’ll celebrate St. Patty’s Day a little better from now on.”

Ancestry also says if you’re concerned about privacy “A user (can) download and remove their results from the database after they get them. They are in the driver’s seat. But those that stay in the database, the goal is to get connected with other Ancestry users so you can learn more about your family history.”

When asked about the results Ancestry said “More than 5 million people have taken an AncestryDNA test, making the AncestryDNA network the largest in the world.  Since it is an ethnicity estimate, there is a range in the results, but should be pretty close with identical twins, which is what you are seeing.”

Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA said “The results are as they should be.  The variance between the twins is not their own genetic difference, but rather the micro-array that has a call rate of 98-99.9% of the markers and if some dropped out for one and not they (sic) other then the total results would be very very similar but not 100% identical. This closeness is what one would expect from Identical twins.” 

23andMe, which was not tested in this scenario said if you’re interested in learning about ancestry you may also be interested in how genetics may impact your health. 23andMe offer both options.

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