Central Valley native, girlfriend conquer their fears on MTV’s ‘Fear Factor,’ win $50,000 grand prize

John Gaines and partner Lauren Young face their fears with Ludacris on the new season of “Fear Factor.” (Photo courtesy of Beck Media)

Former Valley resident John Gaines, along with his girlfriend Lauren Young, appeared on the “Party Games” June 6 episode of MTV’s “Fear Factor.”

“I definitely enjoyed our time on the show, I was able to do some things that I definitely never would have otherwise and stepped outside of my comfort zone,” Gaines said. “The fact that my girlfriend was my partner was great as well because it is something that we will never forget.”

Gaines, originally from Madera, moved to Fresno when he was 8 years old, but now resides in Southern California. Gaines met his girlfriend on an online dating website and the two have been dating for a year now.

On “Fear Factor,” contestants face their “fears” performing stunts inspired by urban legends, popular scary movies, and viral videos from today’s cultural zeitgeist for the chance to win $50,000 and “Fear Factor” bragging rights. The show first started in 2001 when it was hosted by Joe Rogan on NBC but was cancelled in 2006. MTV chose to pick it up earlier this year with Ludacris as the host.

“I was a huge ‘Fear Factor’ fan growing up, I tuned in every week to see what other gross things people were going to have to do,” Gaines said. “I originally submitted myself for the show as a joke to mess with my girlfriend. I told her about it and teased her of the things we would have to do on the show and then I got the call for an interview and we made it all the way through the selection process.”

On the show, the two competed in stunts such as bobbing for snakes and transferring them into another tank with just their mouth, drinking cups of “extremely messed up” concoctions, and driving a car with a blacked out windshield up the ramp of a moving 18-wheeler.

The duo made it all the way to the finals and all they had to do was drive the car further up the ramp then the other couple and going second in the final challenge the duo had the advantage. After seeing the first couple drive the car up the ramp only to the seventh flag on the ramp, with Gaines as the blindfolded driver and Young giving him directions, the two got the car all the way to the end of the ramp. Thanks to their communication skills, and maybe a little of Gaines’ driving skills, the duo won the final challenge and walked away with $50,000.

“My favorite part about being on Fear Factor was watching my girlfriend overcome her fears,” Gaines said. “There were some moments where I thought she was going to give up on me, but she pulled through and I’m very proud of her.”

The couple has agreed that with the prize money they will buy themselves a house to settle into and start their lives together, and pay off some debt in the process.

“Fear is only a factor when you allow it,” Gaines said. “You are in complete control.”