Since Williamsburg’s own Nick Wilson won “Survivor: David vs. Goliath” last month, Mayor Roddy Harrison gets lots of phone calls asking the same question.
“Well has anything ever happened any bigger? I go, ‘No. What could it be?’” Harrison told the crowd of over 100 people, who were gathered at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center Monday for the city council’s monthly meeting and a ceremony to honor Wilson.
“I can’t think of anything any bigger that has ever happened to the city of Williamsburg or Whitley County bigger than this. It has just been phenomenal … Nick has made us all very, very proud. I know his family is, the city is, the county is, everybody is really proud. We wanted to take tonight to just say
thank you,” Harrison said.
Wilson beat out 19 other competitors and won the $1 million cash prize during the finale and live reunion show that aired on Dec. 19.
Harrison said he appreciated how Wilson talked about the community during his stint on Survivor.
“During the whole thing it was all about community and how he wanted to give back to his community and that is so important. His message was that you can do and achieve what you want regardless of your
situation. If it is not that good it doesn’t matter. If you want to do it, you can achieve it. He is a perfect example of that, and we love him for it. We thank you for your message,” Harrison said.
“I thought his message was very strong during his whole time and it meant a lot to us.”
During the ceremony, Harrison presented Wilson with a key to the city, and gave him a chance to address the crowd.
“Wow! It is (Survivor Host) Jeff Probst over again,” a smiling Wilson told the crowd,
which replied with a round of laughter. “I guess all I can really say is thank you.”
Wilson noted that there have been 37 seasons of Survivor with 36 winners because one woman won twice, but that Monday’s celebration was unique.
“I think it says a lot about where we are from and where we live in our community,” he said. “I don’t think I have ever seen something like this for the winner of Survivor or any other TV show. I think that says a lot about our community and where we are from. When I was out there in L.A. it felt like I had won Survivor. When I was in Fiji, it felt like I won it, but I wanted to win it for my family or for where I am from or for the community and all that.”
“When I came home after winning, it really feels like ‘we’ won Survivor, like it is something more than just what I did. That is what motivated me out there. I felt like I had a place that would be proud of me, and that I was proud of as well. I am forever grateful and thankful.”
“The other people in my cast are not having days like this. It is not because they didn’t win. I think it is because I am from Whitley County and they are not. I want to just say thank you all. God bless you, and thank you very much.”
Harrison also presented Wilson with a framed copy of a proclamation proclaiming Wednesday, Jan. 16 as “Nick Wilson Day” in the City of Williamsburg.
Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. also presented Wilson with a framed copy of a proclamation proclaiming Jan. 16 as “Nick Wilson Day” in Whitley County.
“On behalf of Whitley County, I wanted to be here to celebrate with you on your big win, but also to thank you for what an example you set with the way you performed and how you represented our community,” White said.
White noted that during the finale episode, he and his three young sons all sat in front of the television cheering Wilson on.
“I think you really embody the values of this community, and the hard work ethic, and the morality that those boys and the other children of the community need to see,” White said.
82nd Rep. Regina Huff presented Wilson with Citation of Achievement from the Kentucky House of Representatives, and noted he will later be honored in Frankfort too.
Huff, who has known Wilson for several years, said that a sign will be likely be placed at Exit 11 in Williamsburg that will read, “Home of Survivor: David vs. Goliath winner Nick Wilson.”
“I can think of no one more deserving that Nick,” Huff said.
After the ceremony, Wilson noted that all the accolades were “really cool.”
“I wasn’t expecting all this. I am a little surprised and very happy. I am so grateful to the city and county and everyone,” Wilson said after the ceremony. “This means the world to me. This is where I grew up. This is where I always lived. This is what I have always seen, this sense of community and togetherness. I grew up in the Nevisdale area where we would all go play ball together. It was almost like everyone was family. I feel like I am treated like family again today. It is great.”
Filming for the show wrapped up in May and the final vote wasn’t revealed to the contestants until the reunion show in December, which was shown live on CBS.
Although he hadn’t seen the vote count, Wilson said he knew that he had won based on who he was up against in the finals.
“Who I made it to the end with, I knew I beat them. I have had to hold onto this secret for the last seven months,” Wilson said.
Wilson said holding onto the secret wasn’t too hard based on the potential penalties that could be imposed based on his contract with CBS.
“I had a couple of people to talk to about it. I talked to my girlfriend about it. Since I had someone to share with, it made it a lot easier,” he said.
So how much of the $1 million prize does Wilson get to keep and how much does he have to pay in taxes? This hasn’t been determined yet.
“Hopefully it won’t be half, but it could be. We will see,” Wilson said about the taxes that he definitely plans to pay.