U.S. Marine Corps veteran Kelly Murphy of west-central Missouri’s Warrensburg says he wanted to be on the CBS show Tough As Nails to prove to himself that he can still bring it like his days as a Marine. Wednesday night, there was no doubt.
The man, who spent 22 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. and retired about eight years ago, capped off a dramatic finish in the season finale to become the first-ever Tough As Nails champion. He took home a $200,000 cash prize, a new pickup, and maybe a few virtual oorahs from his Marine comrades watching from afar.
Murphy, along with competitors Danny and Myles put their heart, soul, blood, and sweat on the line in the final race to victory. Their families showed up and rooted them on every step of the way in the finale.
“I’m not really surprised that he’s made it to this point. I don’t think that he’s ever done anything halfway,” said Murphy’s wife Machelle.
“The pressure is on even more now,” said Murphy. “I’m definitely going to do my best today.”
The show, which started with twelve participants, tests their strength, precision, team-building skills, and mental toughness in blue-collar challenges. Competitors included a roofer from St. Louis, a welder, drywaller, scaffolder, flight gate agent, firefighters, farmer, and deputy sheriff jailer.
The final challenge included sledgehammering their way through a wall and stacking a pile of hay bales high enough to climb a partition. Then, came a maze of twisted chain to untangle and pounding metal stakes into thick pieces of wood. The sweat was pouring at this point.
You could see Murphy, 48, rallying towards the end of the episode. He pushed through the pure exhaustion while he sawed through several big pieces of wood. He stole the lead from Danny, who is 15 years younger than him, by finding his grove with the saw and especially the stair-building exercise.
“You’ve got it! Come on,” shouts Machelle.
In the bitter end, Murphy climbed the stairs he pieced together to grab the keys to his brand new truck. Tears of joy were flowing from the man standing 6’4 and soaking wet in his University of Central Missouri t-shirt. Cheers and applause broke out for Murphy.
“Are you Savage,” shouts his Savage Crew team members.
Murphy’s journey ended with him loading up his family and driving off into the sunset in his new truck.
“You know you asked me one time what it took to impress me? I’m impressed,” chuckles Machelle.
Murphy is the Director of the Military and Veterans Center at UCM in Warrensburg.
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