NBC.com spoke with Fear Factor's first million-dollar winner, Durant Fowler about heights, leeches and becoming a millionaire!
How did you get involved in Fear Factor?
I got involved in Fear Factor from first attending the Open Call at the Hard Rock Café at the Beverly Center [in Los Angeles, California]. I didn't get a call back, so I waited two months and sent in my videotape, application and photos - [just as] I had before I heard about the open call. I always felt like my video, which
had me with my son in a portion of it, really sold me. Exactly two weeks later I received my first of many, many phone calls telling me to be in San Diego for an interview. Exactly one week later I received another phone call and everything after that was a blur.
Why did you want to compete on Fear Factor?
This all started with a wager between my wife and I. She was so confident that I would get selected that she proposed an irresistible wager. So, I started this whole process expecting to win a wager with my wife. Actually, during my first phone call, the casting person asked if I would be interested in bringing my wife to compete in a couples' version for a million dollars. Let's just say my wife knows her limitations. I figured I'd go alone and try for the fifty grand, but to my surprise [it was a million dollar prize]…sometimes it's just fate and faith!
What would you say is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is heights and if you saw the third stunt, "Pendulum of Death," it's obvious that I was HORRIFIED! I would grab a flag and hold on for dear life, literally! I honestly felt like a cat that did not want a bath.
Did you realize you'd have to compete in five stunts instead of the usual three? Did that worry you at all?
No, I did not realize there would be an additional two stunts until I arrived in Hollywood. No, I wasn't worried. but when the casting [people] told the twelve initial contestants that [the next day] half of us would be gone…it made me a little nervous.
For the first stunt you were up against 11 competitors. Were your nervous about being eliminated on that first day?
I think everyone's biggest fear was being eliminated on the first stunt. I really wanted a chance to compete in all the stunts.
Who did you initially think would be your biggest competition?
At our first meeting, we had a chance to size each other up. All the guys were fit and in good shape. I figured the "cowboy," Eric, would be my biggest competition. But as the days went on, I realized that it would be a toss up. Especially with Katie, Stephanie and Grant. They were all fierce competitors. I tip my hat to them all.
Do you think your physical strength gave you an advantage over some of the others?
Absolutely not. Everyone was in great shape and the stunts lacked any gender advantage.
Was there anyone in particular you were happy to see get eliminated?
No. I actually felt bad for the others as they were eliminated. I didn't have a chance to get to know the first six that were eliminated, which sucked. Then later, we all had really bonded and it was sad to see friends go.
Was the first stunt (Extreme Monkey Bars) harder than it looked?
Not for me. I was literally in a zone for the first stunt. Also, God blessed me with long arms and I finally understand why. As a child I was good on the monkey bars. I guess it was like riding a bike…you never forget.
What was the most difficult part about the Platform Swing (day three)?
Uhh…I don't know, maybe being 100 feet OFF THE GROUND. Maybe the gusting wind. Maybe it was being SUSPENDED on a piece of see-through plastic in my socks as I'm being vertically swung back and forth! Oh, and grabbing flags from one edge, placing them on the other. Can I just say…SCARIEST THING IMAGINABLE!
Of the "gross" stunts, what creeped you out more, the pig, the leeches or the chum? Did you have any mental tricks to get through those stunts?
The gross stunts were a relief for me. I would just think about my little boy and let that motivate me. The worst part would be French-kissing the pig! I haven't eaten any pork since 1992. That was the running joke for everyone who knows me, "All they have to do is pull out some pork and you're done." Little do they know! I really didn't taste or think about the leeches. The sushi Jacuzzi was all about speed, so there was no time to think about the smell. Although, I still haven't gotten the smell out of my swim trunks!
Going into the final stunt, you knew you had a 50-50 chance at becoming a millionaire. Did you have any specific strategy?
Grant and I were both pleased that the final stunt was one [at which] neither of us had an advantage. No strategy. It was all in God's hands.
Once the stunt (Quad Launch) was revealed, how did you think you'd do?
I was always a daredevil as a kid. For me, it was a childhood fantasy come true. I was Evil Knievel all over again. I knew if I was meant to win I would.
Do you think it was helpful for you to go first?
Not really. I thought if I went first I would be there next to Joe to see where Grant's quad landed.
Once you saw Grant's landing, what were you thinking?
Well, it was great. After I saw my landing I knew my quad didn't go very far. To watch Grant's quad hit the ground and remain motionless was truly amazing. But I needed to hear a final measurement before I could begin to rejoice.
Besides becoming a millionaire (!), what was the best part about your Fear Factor experience?
I had a chance to meet eleven wonderful people from all over the nation. Actually seeing how Hollywood reality works [was] very interesting. Competing, competing, competing! But the million dollars doesn't hurt.
Are you still in shock?! Any big plans for the money?
Right now I'm back to working my two jobs and teaching in children's church. I will probably be in shock when I receive my check. I will buy a home for my family and invest wisely.