Justin Wood wins ABC's 'I Survived a Japanese Game Show' title
By Christopher Rocchio, 08/06/2008
Justin Wood was crowned I Survived a Japanese Game Show's "super-duper Majide grand first American champion" during last night's finale broadcast of the ABC reality competition series.
"I really can't believe it. I'm beside myself," said Justin after his victory. "It's almost like winning the Super Bowl. I am the Majide grand champion!"
The 24-year-old financial representative from Trussville, AL took home the show's $250,000 grand prize.
"This has been an experience of a lifetime," added Justin. "The grand prize makes everything worth it, but those memories of what I've done, that's priceless."
Justin defeated Donnell Pitman, a 32-year-old real estate appraiser from Chicago, IL, who finished second.
"I love Justin. He did an amazing job. He definitely showed his sportsmanship. He's a good person, he deserves to win. I'm happy for him and I love him to death," said Donnell after his defeat.
"My homeboy won. My homeboy from Alabama beat me today. I'm proud of him. I wish I could have done a little bit better, of course. But it's the name of the game. Majide, it's crazy... I'm sad to leave Tokyo. I'm sad that I lost. This has been one of the best experiences of my entire life."
I Survived a Japanese Game Show's finale broadcast began with the four remaining contestants arriving at the studio and being met by Tony Sano, who revealed that they'd no longer be competing as teams. In addition, he gave each of the players a new bib and explained each of the final three games would end with one of the contestants being eliminated.
The four contestants then arrived on the Majide set, where they were met by a studio audience and game show host Rome Kanda for their next challenge.
Titled "Making New Friends in Japan," the contestants would compete on the streets of Tokyo to complete five tasks, all of which involved random strangers. Once the a contestant completed the five tasks they would race back to the studio, and the last player to return would be booted.
The game commenced and the first task saw the contestants asking strangers to draw a mustache on their face. Meaghan Cooper, a 22-year-old bartender from San Antonio, TX, found somebody who spoke English and was the first to complete the task. She was followed by Justin, Donnell and Belinda Mason, a 38-year-old veterinarian from Charlotte, NC.
For their second task, the contestants would have to receive a kiss on the cheek from a stranger while somebody snapped their picture. Meaghan was the first to complete this task, followed by Justin, who got a kiss from a guy. Belinda received a kiss from a guy while his girlfriend took the picture, and Donnell was smooched by an old lady.
The third task was one of the more difficult ones, as it required the contestants to get a stranger to dress as the Statute of Liberty. Meaghan and Donnell were able to complete the task fairly quickly, while Justin struggled because he couldn't unfold the costume. Belinda was the third player to complete the task, and Justin finally figured the costume out and also completed it.
For their fourth task the contestants would have to receive a business card. Donnell simply asked a stranger for any business card -- not necessarily their own -- and the plan worked. Meaghan received a business card from two young businessmen, and moved onto the final task with Donnell.
The final task asked the contestants to get three people to do the "wave." Donnell and Meaghan completed the task almost simultaneously and raced back to the studio on foot. However Donnell finished the task farther from the studio so Meaghan beat him back and finished first. He was a close second.
With only one spot left Justin and Belinda searched for a business card two streets away from each other. Belinda eventually got a card from a business owner and Justin also got a card. Both easily found three people to do the "wave" and they raced back to the studio. Justin edged Belinda, who became the seventh contestant eliminated.
"This has been the most amazing experience, something that I never dreamed of," said Belinda after her ouster. "I feel comfortable in knowing I that I did my best in all the challenges. What better opportunity could I have asked for? I was in the Final 4!"
As a reward for making it so far in the competition, Rome revealed that each of the three remaining players would get to spend time with a loved one. Donnell met his wife Concetta; Justin got to see his girlfriend Chantel; and Meaghan got a visit from her best friend Alina.
The loved ones subsequently joined the Majide studio audience as the three remaining contestants prepared to compete in their penultimate challenge.
Titled "Squishy Squishy!," the contestants would wear a giant sponge suit and try to absorb as much water as possible from a giant bowl. They'd then have to retain it through an obstacle course before squeezing out the water into a receptacle. The player with the least amount of water in the receptacle at the end of three minutes would be booted.
Donnell went first and his strength was obviously a big help since the suit was heavy and cumbersome when it was filled with water. He was able to make three trips from the giant bowl to the receptacle before time expired, making both Justin and Meaghan "nervous" about his performance.
Justin had a much more difficult time dealing with the giant suit and he also didn't seem to spend too much time in the giant bowl absorbing water. However like Donnell he was also able to make three trips to the receptacle and hoped that it would be enough to advance to the finals.
Meaghan would seemingly be at a disadvantage during the competition due to her small size, however she used it to her advantage by easily maneuvering around the obstacle course. In addition, she also used her long hair to soak up extra water. While she only made two trips to the receptacle in the three minutes, she still thought there was a chance she got more water than Justin.
Donnell collected the most water and Justin narrowly edged Meaghan, who became the eighth contestant and final woman eliminated from the competition.
"This is my absolute low point. It's kind of a bummer to just be last," opined Meaghan after her ouster.
"You feel on top of the world and then you just are crushed because you've done the worst and now I have to go home because of it. I had a lot of faith in myself going into this and tried so hard to stay. I think I did pretty good, I am the last girl standing. That's really cool. But just like getting the rug pulled out from under your feet, you fall hard."
That night Justin and Donnell reflected on their journey. The next morning they awoke and said goodbye to their house mother Mamasan before being picked up by Tony in a limousine, which brought them to the center of Tokyo.
Both Justin and Donnell were presented with airline tickets to return to Japan for vacation and also received congratulations from Yasuhide Nakayama, Japan's vice minister of foreign affairs and a congressional member.
Justin and Donnell then arrived at the Majide set for their final challenge. Titled "Super Majide," the two contestants would compete head-to-head in a giant obstacle course comprised of the nine hardest tasks from all the show's previous episodes.
They would start off being spun before having to tricycle across a narrow bridge over water. They'd then have to smash six giant eggs with their butts, crawl through a lot of flour, scale a Velcro wall, eat three sticky mochi balls and finally swing through the correct breakaway door. The first contestant to hit the final buzzer would be the winner.
The challenge commenced and both players dizzily got off of the spinning chair and attempted to ride their respective tricycles. It didn't go too well, as Justin was the first to fall in the water, followed by Donnell. Justin was the first one to the chicken coup with Donnell hot on his heels. However Donnell had a hard time breaking the eggs, giving Justin a lead on the Velcro wall.
But Justin initially struggled getting up the Velcro wall, allowing Donnell to catch up. Donnell eventually passed Justin but was unable to reach the top of the wall before he fell back to the ground. The lead went back to Justin who was the first up the wall and at the mochi ball table.
Donnell ran up the wall and started to eat the mochi balls, but it was too little too late as Justin barely edged him out when the first door he chose led to the buzzer.
"Obviously I'm proud of myself. I can finally say, 'Justin, damn good job! You did everything you set out to do, and here you are. You're the champion. You won it,'" said Justin after his victory. "I survived and I made it."