A man from Maine almost got to share a $1 million prize with his best friend on one of network televisions longest running and most viewed reality shows.
Instead of splitting $1 million, 27-year-old James Davis, who grew up in Jefferson and now lives in Las Vegas, had to settle for a brand new Ford Escape.
The sport utility vehicle was the prize Davis and his partner, Jaymes Vaughan, each won for finishing first in the next to last leg of CBS’s reality show, “The Amazing Race.”
The two-hour-long finale, which began with four teams competing for a chance to win the top prize, sent three teams to the final.
Davis and Vaughan, members of the male touring revue Chippendales, were considered one of the stronger teams. They ended up losing, however, to the team that was widely regarded as the weakest.
Vaughan said on camera that he wanted to win the money because he wanted to give half his winnings, or $250,000, to his father, for cancer treatments.
Vaughan and Davis were featured in the 2011 Chippendales calender. Vaughan is a host and Davis is a performer.
“I hope you enjoy your new wheels, Ma,” Davis said on camera, to his mother, Kitty O’Neill of Bath.
She watched Sunday night’s show at a local pub with a small group of friends. Her son texted her a message after the outcome became known.
“His text was very cute. He said, ‘How do you like your new whip (a reference to the Ford Escape)? You deserve it, Mom,’” O’Neill said in a telephone interview.
She said her son has known about the race results since July but managed to keep them a secret.
“I just decided not to ask him about it,” she said.
Davis and Vaughan finished as runners-up to the show’s eventual winners, Josh Kilmer-Durcell and Brent Ridge.
Kilmer-Durcell and Ridge, goat farmers from New York, were considered the show’s underdogs for several weeks as they stumbled through challenges, missed airplane flights and suffered an assortment of minor injuries.
It wasn’t clear from the show how much time separated the Chippendale performers from the goat farmers, but Davis’ mother said there was a difference of about 10 minutes.
“One of my friends said to me, ‘Kitty you must be so proud of James.’ And you know what? That is exactly how I feel,” O’Neill said.
Trey Wier and Lexi Berman, who are dating and live in Texas, finished third in the race.
Natalie and Nadiya Anderson of New Jersey did not make it to the final three. They finished fourth. The Andersons are twin sisters and frequently referred to each other as “twinnies” during the race’s challenges.
This was the 21st season of “The Amazing Race.” The show, which debuted in 2001, has earned 13 Prime Time Emmy awards.
Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: