Student to receive hair transplant, prizes after winning game show

A student’s dream will come true next week at the New Hair Institute in Beverly Hills, Calif. Russ Jowell, a 22-year-old senior, won his dream of a full head of hair on ABC’s “The Great American Dream Vote” last week.

Jowell was among eight contestants who revealed their wildest dreams on the show in hopes of receiving the most votes from American viewers. He received 30,000 more votes than his final competitor, a woman who wanted to build a Basset Hound sanctuary.

“This is the highest point of my life right now,” Jowell said. “It’s just all so surreal.”

The transplant will take six to eight hours on Monday, Jowell said. The process will involve doctors taking hairs from the back of Jowell’s head and strategically placing them on the top of his head, he said. The hair will eventually fall out, take root and then grow in naturally.

“They’ve told me the surgery will be relatively painless,” Jowell said. “And there are possible side effects of scarring, bleeding, swelling, and the hair could even not come back. But those are rare.”

In addition to his $25,000 hair transplant, Jowell was awarded a 2007 Toyota Solara Convertible, a digital camera, a 40-inch flat screen plasma TV, a windsurfer, a $10,000 wardrobe, a skydiving trip, a trip to Las Vegas on a private jet and $20,000 spending money.

Jowell has yet to receive any of his prizes, but said he’s been assured by producers that they’re working on getting him his prizes. Jowell said he’ll put the $20,000 spending money toward student loans and living expenses.

Since appearing on the show, Jowell said he’s been recognized on campus and students have been asking him about the show, what he won and what the show’s host, Donny Osmond, was like.

“Given what’s happened, I’m seriously considering a job in front of the camera,” the radio-TV-film major said. “I’ve already been asked to speak at a convention about dreams and perseverance. I think I’m also going to be the newest model for the New Hair Institute.”

“The Great American Dream Vote” placed last in the ratings and was canceled a few days after it premiered, Jowell said.

“An ABC producer called me to say the show had been dropped,” he said. “That makes me the first and only winner of the show.”

Jowell’s friend Leah Neubauer, a junior radio-TV-film major, said seeing Jowell win the show was really exciting.

“Russ’ self-confidence is already improving,” Neubauer said. “I hope Russ will feel better about himself because it’s always been a struggle.