JT is the million dollar winner of Survivor Tocantins. The latest season, CBS’ 18th Survivor, took place in the Brazilian Highlands. JT, a cattle rancher from Alabama was a guy that everyone could, and obviously did, like. He had a friendly personality, he was athletic, and he always gave 150%. JT was my favorite castaway this season, and I was happy to see him win.
Survivor Cook Islands’ Billy Garcia and I reported for Reality Exploits, live from the red carpet, immediately following the Survivor Tocantins finale in New York.
One question for JT was burning in my mind, because I hadn’t been able to find the answer! During an episode, I heard Stephen call JT “Jed”, so the first thing I asked JT was who Jed is, since his name is James! JT corrected me and said that Stephen called him ‘Jet’, because those are his initials. His name is James Earl Thomas, hence JET. Ahhh, mystery solved!
We asked JT how he felt having won not just a million dollars, but the fan favorite $100,000 prize as well. JT said it was incredible and he couldn’t believe it. He just couldn’t believe he had won.
Billy pointed out to him that he was only the 2nd unanimous winner in 18 seasons, which was quite an accomplishment and a bit of Survivor history. JT thought for sure it would be a close vote, but never expected it to be unanimous.
We asked JT about the final Tribal Council and how he looked so upset at all the things Stephen was saying. Watching the show, it looked clear that the gloves were off, and it seemed like Stephen betrayed JT, and JT was a fool for believing that Stephen really would have taken JT to the final two, had he won the last immunity challenge.
But what we see on TV is not necessarily ‘reality’.
JT knew that Stephen had come to play the game, and that he was going to do whatever it took to get the votes to win a million dollars. JT knew he had to step up his game and make Stephen look bad, if he had any chance of getting votes. Fortunately for JT it worked. Unfortunately for Stephen, he thought his friendship with JT had just ended.
But as the lights and cameras turned off, JT was laughing hysterically, and the ‘game’ was finally over! JT knew Stephen was there to win and he didn’t hold any of what he said to the jury against him. They were both there to win a million dollars, but more than that, JT got a best friend in Stephen.
We asked JT if he had any plans for his winnings. He said he plans to take care of his family. He has 11 nieces and one nephew, poor kid, and the first thing was to make sure they all had their educations taken care of. Billy said that with that many kids, he could make his own Survivor series!
JT also said that while he doesn’t know what his plans are, he expects that he and Stephen will somehow go into business together. Their friendship remains strong and they believe they will also make great business partners since it served them so well on the show!
And then there was the issue about the tooth. JT was playing a pretty rough game (challenge) in the mud, and he got whacked in the face and lost a tooth. He left his tooth in the mud, but Jeff Probst went and got it. JT said he didn’t need it. Talk about tough!
JT’s tooth made a re-appearance at the finale. Jeff had saved the tooth and offered it to JT, who again said he didn’t want it. So Jeff offered it to JT’s mom, who gladly took it.
So Billy and I asked JT about that tooth, and strangely enough, it wasn’t his actual tooth! It was a crown on the back of his front tooth that had popped off. So it’s true, he didn’t need it. I told him I thought Jeff was going to make a necklace out of it and give it to him. Billy said he thought it might be part of a future immunity necklace. But in the end, Billy and JT agreed that mom might just be eBaying it for some cash!
We congratulated JT and thanked him for his time. Billy welcomed him to the Survivor family and said that he represented them well.
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