James “J.T.” Thomas temporarily left the cattle ranch he manages for the Brazilian Highlands. When he returned, he brought back something new – $1 million.
Thomas, a 24-year-old cattle rancher from Samson and a 2007 Troy University graduate, is the winner of the reality television show Survivor: Tocantins: The Brazilian Highlands. He is only the second winner in the show’s 18-season history to receive a unanimous jury vote. He also won Survivor’s Fan Favorite, earning an additional $100,000 and Sprint’s Player of The Week Awards.
The finale aired Sunday, May 17. The live portion of the finale’s broadcast was filmed from The Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.
“As the votes were being read, I cannot explain how nervous I was. I never in a million years would have thought that I could have gotten all the votes,” Thomas said.
Thomas is the third TROY graduate to be on the show. Bobby Jon Drinkard appeared as a contestant on two Survivor seasons, while Vecepia Towery-Robinson won the show’s fourth installment, Survivor: Marquesas, in 2002.
Thomas said the interactions he had while a student at TROY were beneficial to his success on the show.
“I do feel like being from an area like or around Troy definitely helps you because everyone in that part of Alabama is so hands on and face-to-face with each other. As I learned while obtaining my marketing degree from TROY, being honest and the impressions you leave on people while doing business or just talking to them can make or break you,” said Thomas.
Thomas plans to use the money to set up college trust funds for his 12 nieces and nephews. “Hopefully, they will all have the TROY Trojan experience,” said Thomas.
Roy, a senior print journalism and public relations major from Prattville, is an intern in the office of university relations.