By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 3, 2019
CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WCTV) – The season premiere of Naked and Afraid XL premiered Sunday night on the Discovery Channel, and local viewers might have seen a familiar face.
Crawfordville resident and contestant on this season of Naked and Afraid XL, James Lewis, is an architect in Tallahassee. But, when he is not spending his time putting a hammer to wood, he is out in the seas of South China, surviving.
With 14 strangers spending 40 days and nights in exotic lands, this Florida man decided to take on the challenge of a lifetime.
Lewis says his love for adventure started when he was a teen, "When Rambo First Blood came out and I saw Sylvester Stallone with his mad skills, very quiet, but just the mad skills, and I was like, I would like to be like that, and I thought I could do that, I can take a knife into the woods and the jungle and I can be just like him."
Being on the show, the 51-year-old says, is a dream come true, "My entire life, I have always been the one to go out and have an adventure, go explore."
On his 50th birthday, Lewis participated in last season's Naked and Afraid. This season, he turned 51 while out in the wild, and he says the journey was anything but easy.
"I've gone five to six hundred miles hiking, I've made six to seven hundred fires with different tools over the last 12 months. Then, when you get to the place where you are at, you say, 'oh, it's raining everyday.' It's really hard to make a friction fire in the rain," shares Lewis.
The biggest challenge: "I am not a group person," Lewis says as he laughs. "I foresaw myself just sitting outside of the group, kind of doing my own thing."
His strengths he says are his creativity, adaptability and mental fortitude, "If you are trying to survive it's not about what you see in front of you and saying that's not a Starbucks. It's saying, what can I do to innovate and adapt and overcome?"
Lewis mentions that most viewers are intrigued by the "nakedness." He expresses the difficulty, "Get wet, lay in the mud at 70 degrees and it's quite uncomfortable. Then the bugs, it's like there are a few mosquitoes, they are biting me on my arms all over the place. It's like the mosquitoes know you are now unprotected."
Regardless of the physical and mental strains, he would do it all again. Lewis hopes his adventure makes Tallahassee and Wakulla County proud.