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Wipeout winner counting bruises, blessings and bills

Bachelor of Business Administration – Accounting student Jonathan Ruiz couldn’t think of a better way to deal with the stress of paying for tuition than winning the action-packed game show, Wipeout Canada.

The show features 20 contestants aged 19 and older heading to Argentina to compete in four obstacle-based rounds. Only four lucky contestants make it to the final round aka “the Wipeout Zone” for the chance to take home $50, 000. 
Even though roughly 46,000 people applied to compete on the show, Ruiz had a sneaking suspicion the grand prize would be his.

Jonathan Ruiz and his sister's audition tape for Wipeout Canada.

“I just had this feeling even before I was chosen to be on the show that I would make it,” says Ruiz.
“I was already thinking about how I would spend the money and I knew a large portion would go toward school.”

As an avid Wipeout watcher, Ruiz thought the obstacles and competitors he was about to face, wouldn’t be a challenge for him.

Game face

A 16-page application followed by the submission of a photo and video segment was the first step to the grand-prize money.

So Ruiz and his sister got their game faces on and applied for the family episode.

“They asked a lot of silly things because they were looking for personality to make the show interesting,” explains Ruiz.

“They asked ‘if you were a food what would you be?’ I think I would be a taco because every bite is exciting and full of something new.”

Although Ruiz’ intuition of wiping out the competition was spot on, he had no idea that he would be doing it without his sister.

“A week or two after my sister and I submitted our entire application package they asked my mom and me to be on the show together and my sister didn’t make it. She was so upset,” says Ruiz.

So, with his 80’s moustache intact and playing the “stay at home bum” — the character Ruiz created for the show because he lives at home while going to school — the dynamic mother-son duo hit the wipeout ground running. 

BBA - Accounting student, Jonathan Ruiz on the set of Wipeout Canada.

Let the games begin

During his first day in Argentina, Ruiz was surprised to learn that the competition was going to be more than a physical battle.

“A couple of other competitors were tri-athletes and another man was a fire fighter,” says Ruiz.
“You need to be mentally prepared because you start to compare yourself to other people. I felt like in the end it would all boil down to heart and whoever wanted it the most.”

The first course had the contestants running across bosu balls that were balancing on the surface of a mud pit, dodging past a punching wall and swinging or diving through a donut ring.

“I fell in the mud and it was so thick that all I kept thinking was ‘oh man, my mom is going to have such a hard time,’” explains Ruiz. “I thought I could do it no problem, but after I did it I realized how exhausting it is.”

Round two consisted of a “sweeper arm” in which contestants had to jump and remain on an unstable platform as the arm came around.

And Ruiz came out on top which automatically jumped him to the Wipeout Zone.

Wiping out the competition

The final course was all that was left, and Ruiz was anxiously awaiting the final trial to his tuition money.

“This is where the game really turned into a mental test,” says Ruiz. “They had us sitting outside the course in a tent so you could hear the other competitors’ time, but you couldn’t see how they did.

“I fell once and I thought to myself and it was over and I had lost,” says Ruiz. “At that point I kind of gave up and wasn’t giving 110 per cent because you imagine the other contestants did much better.”

Ruiz was almost positive the other contestant, also named John, had won.

Finally the winner was announced.

“I looked at the other John and asked him if he went by the name Jonathan and he said no. Right away it clicked and the host put the mic up to my face and announced I had won. I was blown away,” says Ruiz

Winning $50,000 takes so much stress off of school finances and those kinds of things,” says Ruiz. “I was also happy that I proved to myself that I could win.”
Lessons learned

“The mentality aspect was a big challenge,” says Ruiz. “I really had to focus and not think about what other people were doing.”

Ruiz is also excited his grand-prize will help return the support his parents have always given to him.

“Even though my mom didn’t make it to round two I was so proud of her for finishing and it felt good to have her there for support,” says Ruiz.

“Growing up I have always had support from my parents and that has always made me push harder to show them that I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

Angela Sengaus, Feb. 2, 2012