<i>Survivor:</i> Global Differences

010301 levi bowen CBS

Shortly before Americans caught Survivor fever last summer, audiences in New Zealand were hooked on a similar adventure-reality television program called Treasure Island.

The New Zealand show had two teams of six who competed in a variety of physical challenges. One person was eliminated from each team every five days until there were just two left to compete for the grand prize of $25,000. The money was buried in a treasure chest, which the winner had to dig up himself.

Levi Bowen, who won the first Treasure Island competition, says he would love to try the American version.

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"I've been watching, and I think survival-wise, I would be fine, he said in an interview Thursday on CBS' The Early Show. "With the voting, it would be interesting."

In the Kiwi version, there were no tribal councils or voting people off; eliminations were based on the competitions.

"It was very hard survival-wise," Bowen said, adding that it didn't have what he described as a nasty psychological component. In fact, Bowen, who captured and slaughtered a goat in his competition, believes the psychological challenges of the American version are more difficult to master.

Even so, there was some tension among his own teammates, not unlike that in the current Survivor: The Australian Outback. In last week's episode of the American show, a vegetarian was voted off, partly because of her strong reactions to the slaughter of pigs and chickens.

On Treasure Island, one of Bowen's teammates also was a vegetarian. "She was kind of totally against it (his slaughter of a goat),"Bowen said. "We kept it for a day or two. She wanted to try and set it free. But most of us were happy because we hadn't eaten anything but rice for about two weeks."

Since winning, Bowen has given up his construction job and moved to the U.S., where his $25,000 is worth only abot $10,000, far less than the $1 million jackpot for theSurvivor winner. Nevertheless, Bowen says the experience was worthwhile.

"At the time, definitely. I had a blast. And I've had a great time spending it, so I can't complain."

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Bowen is surprised by the popularity of the show in this country. "New Zealand is a smaller country and we had a lot of hype there," he said. But it is insane here, big time."

As for the outcome of this latest American reality show, Bowen is betting that Elisabeth will win.

"She's a cute little smiley face that nobody finds threatening," he said. "She's behind the scenes. I think she will surprise people in the end."



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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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