Apparently, God doesn't play favorites. When Vecepia "Vee" Towery won Survivor: Marquesas last May, the fundamentalist Christian chalked up her surprise victory to divine intervention. But where was the big guy last week when fellow Christian Jed Hildebrand became the first member of the Sook Jai tribe to get the boot on Survivor: Thailand?
For his part, the 25-year-old hard body isn't holding the good Lord accountable for his early defeat. "I feel like I was given the strength to endure the challenges that came up, and God may have made this opportunity a growing experience," he tells TV Guide Online. "At no time did I ever blame anybody for what happened. I enjoyed my time there, and I think it's all for the best."
In truth, Hildebrand confesses that if anyone should take the fall for his ouster, it's him. The Texas native — who was labeled lazy by his teammates for playing kitchen while everyone else was building shelter — says that if he could do it all over again, "I might try to blend more with the fort group... Anytime you're not doing something that everyone else is doing, they look at your actions and think, 'Hey, that's frivolous. Food and water's not important — [constructing a] fort is the most important thing.'"
Still, Hildebrand's "no regrets" philosophy doesn't allow for Monday-morning quarterbacking. As it is, being labeled a slouch shouldn't hinder any hopes he might have of hitting it big in Hollywood. "If the chance arose, I would definitely look into it," he says of any potential showbiz opportunities. And what about his career in dentistry — which has become a religion in and of itself in his family? (His father and two brothers are dentists.) "I graduate from [Baylor College of Dentistry] in May, so that's my top priority," he says. "And then from there, the future can take me anywhere.
"[Survivor] awakened the idea that life is bigger than just your hometown or one profession," he adds. "There are many people in life who do multiple things, and I think those are the happiest things."