“When we left, we were told it would be another month before the winner was announced. Then I felt really discouraged. Friends were telling me that my injuries and my fitness level guaranteed me the cover. I felt the opposite. I didn’t feel I was as fit as the others and I felt like the war was too controversial a topic for the magazine to want to feature a wounded veteran.
I had completely talked myself out of even the slightest possibility of winning by the time I was back on a plane to New York a month later to find out the results. My family didn’t believe that I didn’t know already. They thought I’d been told and kept asking me about it. But I really didn’t know. The winner was being announced live on NBC’s Today show. I had made my peace with not winning and Jamie and I were just excited to go to New York and be on Today. We had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina, and when we landed there I had a voice mail from my friend Billy. His message: “I thought we had to wait to see who won? It’s already out!”
I clicked onto my Facebook app and saw that Billy had posted a picture of him and some of his buddies at a truck stop in Kentucky posing with a Men’s Health magazine--and I was on the cover! I was shocked. But even then I was convinced this wasn’t real. Maybe the editors had decided to give the cover to all three of us and we each had a different region of the country. It felt incredible to see myself on the cover of that magazine but I just wasn’t convinced I was the outright winner.
Jamie and I got to our hotel room late. I called my contact at Men’s Health, Nora, and said, “I’ve already seen the magazine.” There was a beat on the other end of the line before she flatly said, “We’ll talk about it in the morning.” So Jamie and I went to bed. The next morning we met up with Finny and Kavan and headed over to 30 Rockefeller Plaza for the Today show. I didn’t say a word about what I’d seen.
When we arrived, Nora was at the door. I waited for the others to go in before I said to her, “So we’re not going to talk about what we’re not going to talk about?” I was smirking a little but quickly wiped the grin off my face when I saw the look on Nora’s.
“You’re not the only person in this competition, Noah. Not everyone knows.” Roger that. I wouldn’t say another word.”

Noah Galloway, Living with No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier
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