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Vote to send Pickens native to Siberia

Chad Bagwell wants to be contestant on

intense months-long reality show



Chad Bagwell, a 2005 graduate of Pickens High School and native of the Jerusalem area, said in a phone interview Monday that he might be this generation’s Chris McCandless, (the main character of the book/movie Into the Wild).

When it’s pointed out that McCandless died of starvation in the Alaskan wilderness and the account of his life was written by someone else after the young man’s body was found, Bagwell corrects slightly saying, he wants to “almost” be this generation’s Chris McCandless.

A self-proclaimed “country boy” who knows hunting, fishing and edible plants, Bagwell is hoping for online votes to send him to Siberia, where he will survive off the land through the brutal Russian winter for nine months, all filmed as part of a Russian reality show, Game 2: Winter, Reality Show for Survival in Siberian Taiga.


Bagwell, who is obviously a well-read country boy, referenced his quest as a combination “Dukes of Hazard and The Gulag Archipelago” (a book about Russian labor camps).

Since graduating from Pickens High, the 30-year-old Bagwell has moved from Pickens to Alabama, working in a factory but he remains proud of growing up in the rural Jerusalem area. 

Bagwell first heard of the reality show on television in a story that said everything, including murder, would be legal among contestants, who are expected to survive nine months among wolves, bears and the elements that could see temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees.

A little research, however, turned up that the part about murder is not exactly true. All laws still exist and Bagwell said he doesn’t anticipate worse than a possible fist fight from the contestants, though a fair number of former military and special operations people are among those vying for the chance at serious prize money.

Even if other contestants aren’t looking to gun him down, Bagwell said the elements most certainly can be lethal, especially to a lifelong southerner who admits he has never been anywhere really cold. 

“God willing I will come back in one piece,” he said in a YouTube video made to attract votes. “God not-willing, oh well.”

The shows indicates that 30 contestants will be selected this spring. They will travel to Russia for two weeks of training with Russian special force soldiers. Then they will be dropped off in the taiga (wilderness). After nine months, any contestants still there and alive will split a prize of about $1.7 million.

Bagwell said priority one is building a shelter. Then gathering food and supplies. From his online studying of the region, he believes his country boy skills of hunting, trapping, fishing and especially his knowledge of edible wild plants will be his secret weapon – though he also plans to smuggle tomato seeds, which he believes will produce heartily in the short Siberian summer/fall before winter sets in. He said a number of plants he gathers locally also grow in that region – at least before it’s all buried in snow.

“Although I wouldn't call myself a survival expert, I am eager to see if I can really survive something like this,” he said. “I'm also eager for a chunk of the prize money.”

Aside from the basic survival aspect, there are the various other reality show challenges and options for supplies with contests for additional prizes, all filmed 24/7 and available on live feeds online.

“It’s a kind of wild Russian reality show that is very hardcore,” Bagwell said. “It’s got to be hardcore if it’s in Siberia.”

Bagwell acknowledges that for someone with no knowledge of cold weather environments, the contest will be tough. 

“If I had to bet on it, I’d say the odds are against it, but that’s just gonna make it more fun ain’t it?” he said.

The first step is for Bagwell, who says his social media savvy is somewhere near his cold weather knowledge, to get the votes to make the show. A share on social media is a vote.

To vote for him, see Bagwell said it appears that Facebook doesn’t work well with the Russian site, but votes on Twitter count.