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North Idaho native wins $500K on survival show 'Alone'

Jordan Jonas, who graduated from Sandpoint High School and North Idaho College, survived for 77 days in the wilderness of Canada's Great Slave Lake.
Credit: Courtesy
Jordan Jonas -- ALONE

ATHOL, Idaho — A North Idaho native’s survival skills earned him the title of champion and $500,000 on the latest season of “Alone” on the History Channel.

Jordan Jonas, who graduated from Sandpoint High School and North Idaho College, was one of ten contestants on the show, which premiered in early June. The show documents what it is like for contestants to survive in the wilderness while self-documenting their journey without camera crews.

Right now, Jonas lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, with his wife and children, but plans to move back to Athol next year to work on his family farm, he told KREM in May.

Jonas survived for 77 days in the wilderness of Canada’s Great Slave Lake, beating runners-up Woniya Thibeault and Spokane native Nathan Donnelly. The season six finale aired last Thursday. 

Donnelly left the show after his shelter went up in flames, saying that he knew it was an "emergency situation."

"That's just the nature of the beast when you're standing inside a shelter that's burning down around you," he added. 

Donnelly was disappointed that he did not win the $500,000 prize money but said his experience on the show was the most important part. 

"Whatever it is you’re doing, if it makes you present and gives you something to care about, that’s what’s important," he said. “Happiness is not circumstantial, it’s your attitude and what you’re going to decide to do with it. And the only currency that we have is gratitude." 

Contestants bring clothing, safety and survival gear, and are allowed ten special items during the journey. Jonas picked a paracord, saw, ax, sleeping bag, frying pan, ferro rod, fishing line and hooks, bow and arrows, trapping wire, and a multitool. 

Survival is not unfamiliar to Jonas, as he spent many years living in the harsh conditions of Siberia with nomadic reindeer herders. It was there that he trapped and hunted game on his own.

“Perhaps spending years in Russia away from loved ones gave some perspective to the time period I had been gone for…two months is still not a year, and after a year in Russia I would return to America and still be connected to the ones I love. So no big deal…But i still didn’t want to miss Christmas in a month and dreaded the thought,” Jonas wrote of the experience on ‘Alone’ on his blog.

Jonas was also an avid camper who learned survival skills while growing up in Athol, Idaho.

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A report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says Jonas was the first contestant in the show’s history to kill a big game animal when he shot a nearly 900-pound moose with his bow and arrow 20 days into filming.

On his blog, Jonas also thanked the people who made it possible for him to compete on the show.

“First on the list is my beautiful wife, who more than anyone, took on the day to day grind of having her husband gone for an unknown amount of time while she dealt with two toddlers and the gauntlet of issues that arose in my absence. Trusting her strength allowed me to stay worry free as long as necessary. My family, brothers, sister, mom, and many close friends and supportive community were there so I knew I could focus on the task before me without anxiety,” Jonas wrote in part.

“Also constantly with me out there was the thought of my dad, who though he passed years ago, showed me through example how to bear indescribable hardships with an air of joy and gratitude that is a lesson impossible to teach except through example. We all will face suffering on some level, but having been shown how to navigate that with steadfastness and a constantly developing character is invaluable,” he continued.

Jonas’ full post-finale statement is available on his Facebook page. Fans can also follow his journey on Instagram.

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