Without his Auburn education, James Lewis wouldn’t be the nude survivalist he is today.
The 1991 Auburn architecture graduate is hanging tough in the buff in new episodes of “Naked and Afraid XL,” an even more extreme spin-off of the already extreme Discovery Channel survival series Naked and Afraid that for 40 days pits (pixelated) Man against merciless Mother Nature.
But for Lewis, it’s apparently just like being back in college. The architecture firm vice president credits his first days on the Plains with honing the skills that have turned subsisting on snails and stuff while in his birthday suit into a fulfilling side hustle.
“I didn’t have money when I went up there (to Auburn), did not have a place to live,” Lewis, who currently lives in Tallahassee, told his hometown paper. “I just drove the truck over to a spot in the woods and set up camp. For the first couple weeks of school, I was actually living out of the woods.”
Yes, he had clothes during his first days on the Plains. But that was about it. “In the evenings, I was running down to the creek, no fishing pole, just cut a spear and chased fish down and speared them,” he said. “Growing up on a farm and learning to make things work turned out to be valuable my first few weeks at Auburn” — and, as fate would have it, his first few weeks in the jungles of Central America.
Last year on “Naked and Afraid,” the glutton for fear and nudity lasted 17 days on Nicaragua’s brutal Isla Zapatera, most of it alone.
This season on “Naked and Afraid XL,” eight men and six women are literally fighting for their lives on islands in the South China Sea.
The May 26 season premiere saw a parched Lewis succumb to the siren call of a stream that, as he learned several bathroom breaks later, unfortunately doubled as a monkey toilet. In Sunday night’s episode, he helped fashion a fully-functional snorkel from a piece of coral and bamboo.
And it turns out, he wasn’t the only Auburn graduate named James on this season’s snake-infested set. Producer Jim Morton, who counts among his “Naked and Afraid” credits a 2015 episode actually shot in Bullock County–mere miles from where an Alabama woman was found wandering naked and afraid in 2017)–graduated from Auburn University in 1990.
“Naked and Afraid XL” airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on Discovery Channel.