APPLETON, Maine — After spending three months alone in the wilderness, 6,000 miles from his off-the-grid homestead, a local man has been declared the victor of the third season of History Channel’s survival show “Alone,” bringing back $500,000 to his wife and two daughters.

Zachary Fowler has been back in Maine since August, but he has been sworn to secrecy ever since filming for the show came to an end. With the airing of Thursday night’s finale, the news is finally public that he outlasted his competitors and won the top prize.

Fowler, 37, spent 87 days alone, fending for himself in the wilds of Patagonia in South America. His only contact with the outside world was an occasional visit from a medical staff, who periodically checked in on the show’s 10 contestants to ensure they weren’t in danger of starvation. One by one, they left because of loneliness, injury, illness or severe weight loss.

When a film crew showed up at his campsite 87 days into the competition, the day after one of these medical checkups, Fowler was convinced he was about to be pulled from the show for losing too much weight.
“I was ready to protest,” Fowler said during a recent interview. “I knew I could keep going, maybe for a few more weeks.”

He had no idea that a day earlier, his only remaining competitor had been disqualified by the show’s medical staff because her body mass index dropped to dangerous levels.

As he talked to the crew, Fowler’s wife, Jami, who he hadn’t seen or spoken to for more three months, snuck up and grabbed him from behind.

Fowler turned around, gasped, and grabbed her. She was the one to tell him, “You won! You out-stubborned them all!”

When Fowler stepped onto a helicopter alongside his wife to head home, he was 70 pounds lighter than when he arrived.

Fowler went into the competition weighing a “husky” 223 pounds, he said. He survived largely on fish and limited edible plants he found in the area, as well as a bird that he took down with a skillful slingshot strike.

“The fish head soup diet isn’t one I would recommend,” he said.

Watch for updates.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.