It started with 14 contestants, and now the second season of CMT’s “Redneck Island” is over. The second season had a local flavor to it, as two of the contestants were from this area.
Those two contestants — Justin Campbell from Ragland, and Eliza Weber from Leeds — signed autographs last Saturday, at Bass Pro Shop in Leeds, along with seven of the 14 cast members. From there, they all went to Fox and the Hound on U.S. 280 to watch the final two episodes together.
Although both of them knew how the show would end, they were not at liberty to share and stayed quiet to the very end. On Saturday, they watched Wade Jones from Alex City win the $100,000 top prize.
Both Campbell and Weber were not interested in even trying out for the show at first.
“One of my friends told me about Redneck Island, and how I should audition, but I really didn’t want to,” Weber said. “She finally talked me into it.”
Contestants participated in a variety of physical challenges over the course of six weeks. At the end of each show, a contestant was eliminated by a vote of the other contestants.
Weber admits that she was sneaky and conniving on the show, but really didn’t know how sneaky some of the others were until she came home and started watching the show.
One by one, contestants were sent home. Weber and Campbell, who were on opposing teams, soon found themselves in the top 5.
Weber is originally from Memphis, Tenn., and moved to Leeds to attend college at Samford University. She graduated and decided just to stay. She has lived in Leeds for the past seven years.
Weber said the host Steve Austin, a former professional wrestler, was so nice and super friendly.
“He was a great host, and answered any and all questions we had,” Weber said.
Asked if she had established a friendship with the other 13 contestants on the show, Weber said, “Not all of them.”
“There are some that we are definitely closer to than others,” Weber said. “I’m close to all the guys from Alabama.”
Campbell said he too was closer to the contestants from Alabama.
“Even though me and Nick (another contestant) had our differences, it was all about the show and winning some money,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t change the type of person he is, and how I feel about him. Outside of that, me and Darrin talk on a regular basis, and he is from North Carolina.”
Weber said she is still really close to Kelly and Donna.
“And even though Heather and I really were not friends on the show, we stay in touch with each other,” Weber said.
Campbell said he enjoyed the little turkey hunt skit they put on, and winning the last challenge riding the ATV.
“The episode with the donkey race was the best episode, I think,” Campbell said.
Campbell said it took two days to make one episode, and contestants were eliminated from the show every other day. Every sixth day was a down day for them to rest.
“Redneck Island” was filmed in Mexico, and Weber and Campbell said they were there a total of about five weeks from about the middle of September and stayed until almost the end of October.
“It was so hot down there,” Weber said. “It was challenging in so many aspects — mentally, physically. We were not getting the food we were used to. We were not talking to the people who supported us the most and trust. That was hard. We formed alliances there, but you really never knew who you could trust.”
Campbell said the opportunity to be on a reality television show had its good and bad moments.
“You are somewhere that is beautiful, and people would pay a lot of money to go and spend time,” Campbell said. “I was at an unbelievable place doing things I never dreamed of doing. But at the same time, I had family back home, and I was missing them.”
While Weber admits she speaks her mind on the show, Campbell said his game plan going in was to lay low.
“Don’t be the person who stands out, because it definitely puts a target on your back,” he said. “I just tried to be myself and stay out of controversy.”
Weber, 34, said it has been interesting to see all the criticism they have received on Facebook.
“I don’t take it to heart, and really think it’s kind of funny,” she said. “We all know each other, and we all know what happened behind the scenes. But to see people who were not there, and don’t know us from Adam, they had such harsh criticism about us. They have never been put in any of those situations.
“It has been interesting to read their comments. I find myself trying to protect all the cast members on the show, even the ones I was not fond of.”
Weber admits she is rude to people on Facebook who criticize cast members.
Campbell said he has received a lot of fat jokes on Facebook.
“Hey, I know I was the biggest guy on the show,” he said. “I don’t care what they say on there.”