A Kendrick man outlasted all of his competitors in the survival television show “Alone” and won the $500,000 top prize.
Clay Hayes participated in the reality show last fall but the results weren’t revealed until the season finale Aug. 19. In the intervening months, he had to keep his performance secret but said in a phone interview after the finale that he was determined not to quit or “tap out.”
“It never crossed my mind. I was there until it was over,” he said.
The show starts with 10 contestants. Each is dropped off alone in remote wilderness with 10 hand-picked survival items. They must film themselves while securing food and shelter. The person who lasts the longest wins.
Hayes, who is thin to begin with, lost 40 pounds during his 74 days on the shores of Chilko Lake in British Columbia, Canada, and finished with a weight of 140 pounds. That is despite him being able to kill a young mule deer buck with his bow, forage wild mushrooms and berries, and catch the occasional fish.
He had encounters with a mountain lion and grizzly bears and in the season finale was visited by a fisher.
Hayes, a wildlife biologist, filmmaker and avid primitive bow hunter, said during a June interview with the Tribune that he was drawn to the show because he felt he could learn from the experience. In a June interview with the Idaho Press, Hayes said he has always been “drawn to natural environments and being out in the woods” and called Idaho’s outdoor opportunities “unparalleled.”
He said the show taught him two lessons. One, that attitude is a huge factor in how people approach life. He could have viewed his time at Chilko Lake as something to endure and suffer through, but said he chose to view it as an opportunity.
“The other one was just how much my family means to me,” he said.
Hayes has two young boys, Coye and Fen, and has known his wife since they were both 17.
“The show taught me those things aren’t a given and they can go away,” he said. “It brought that into clear view.”
He plans to pay off his house with the prize money and set some aside for Coye and Fen to go to college.
“Beyond that I don’t really have any plans,” he said.