Jeff Probst is a four-time Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Reality Host. He has traveled the world serving as both host and executive producer for Survivor. He received an Emmy in 2001 when the show won the first-ever Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class) award. In 2015 Survivor celebrated its 30th edition 15 years since the series premiered on May 31, 2000. Survivor premiered its 34th season in March 2017 and marked the show’s 500th episode. This fall, Survivor will premiere Season 40, Winners at War.
Probst is a New York Times bestselling author of a kid’s adventure series, Stranded.
Also, he is a feature film director. In 2002 he wrote and directed Finder’s Fee, starring Ryan Reynolds, James Earl Jones, Robert Forster, and Matthew Lillard. Most recently, he produced and directed the feature film Kiss Me, starring John Corbett, Sarah Bolger, Rita Wilson, Emily Osment, Missy Pyle, and Jenna Fisher.
Probst hosts the Howard Stern Celebrity Fan Roundtable for Howard Stern on Sirius/XM radio and previously served as host of VH1’s Rock and Roll Jeopardy. He hosted several programs for FX and traveled around the world as a correspondent for Access Hollywood. In 2001 he was voted one of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful.”
He is a spokesperson for Taylorsgift.org, whose mission is to re-gift life through organ donation.
In addition, Probst is an ordained minister and has served as the officiant at the weddings of several friends. He was ordained by the Universal Life Church of Modesto, CA.
A native of Wichita, KS, Probst lives with his family in Los Angeles when he’s not traveling the world. His birthday is Nov. 4. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jeffprobst.
Name: Chanelle Howell
Hometown: Hamden, CT
Current Residence: New York, NY
Occupation: Executive Recruiter
Favorite Hobbies: Exploring new countries, trying new cuisines and blogging about them.
3 Words to Describe You: Cunning, competitive, cultured.
Pet Peeve: Slow walkers. It’s the New Yorker in me.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Utilizing my recruiting skills to create a mentorship program to help young women get into professional spaces.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I’m good at crunching numbers in my head!
Who is your hero and why? My parents! They’ve worked so hard to build a life for my siblings and I and set us up for success. I can never fully repay them, although I intend to try through winning the million!
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Kim Spradlin played a perfect game, so just trying to keep that same energy.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I’m truly a student of the game. I’ve watched all the seasons, I’ve studied the greats, and I’ve learned the nuances. I am a subject matter expert in SURVIVOR. Aside from having the “toolbelt” to win, my motivations will push me through the cold nights and hungry days. I want to show Black and brown girls that this game was made for us, too!
Name: Daniel Strunk
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Current Residence: New Haven, CT
Occupation: Law Clerk
Favorite Hobbies: Movie fanatic, LEGOs, keeping track of things, and SURVIVOR
Words to Describe You: Ebullient, driven
Pet Peeve: People who are so convinced they are right that they foreclose debate; people who are disruptive in movie theaters; when people try to talk to you even though you are wearing headphones; oatmeal raisin cookies masquerading as chocolate chip cookies.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I wrote in my journal a personal philosophy on what I think the purpose of life is, influenced by my battle with cancer, my religion and my ideological beliefs.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I collect signed pocket U.S. Constitutions. Among others, I have one signed by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, Justice Sotomayor, and the former U.S. ambassador to Estonia.
Who is your hero and why? George Washington, for being one of the few to ever resist power of that magnitude. Roddie Edmonds, for putting his life on the line to do what was right.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? In order for me to win, I will need to lower my threat level from the get-go. The most natural way is to embrace my inner goofy, like Fabio. And then, obviously the winners I would model my game after are Yul and Todd.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I truthfully think the odds are against me. It is all going to be a matter of threat management. I’m going to leave it all on the table. I will play my heart out because it will probably be the one shot I get – I’ve been waiting years, and I want no regrets. I can’t promise you I will win, but I can promise you I will have fun and make the most of this opportunity. Cancer survivors don’t go anything less than full throttle.
Name: Drea Wheeler
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
Current Residence: Montreal, Quebec
Occupation: Fitness Consultant
Favorite Hobbies: Working out and any kind of charity work
3 Words to Describe You: Resilient, ambitious and caring
Pet Peeve: Dishonest people
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Becoming an All-American Track Runner. If you are or ever have been a competitive athlete, you know the dedication, sacrifice, sweat and tears it takes to succeed. Every time I question my ability to make something happen, I look back at the girl who ran track and remember I was, and still am, that person!
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I have a fear of death. I come off as super confident and strong, which I am, but deep down, I do fear the end. I think it stems from losing some very important people in my life at a young age. However, this fear doesn’t cripple me; it gives me the perspective to live every day to the fullest.
Who is your hero and why? My mom! As I get older, I understand how much she gave up in having me and my older sister before the age of 18. I never wanted for anything and that is because my mom worked multiple jobs to ensure that never happened. When my Pops died and left her with 5 kids, she kept going and got me into university with a full scholarship. She is the bomb dot com.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Kelley Wentworth. She contributes to her team and sets up alliances while still being a competitor in the competitions.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I believe my personality, physical strength and ability to manipulate people to do what I want will help me get to the final. I am able to see where different personalities fit in my life and utilize them when it fits.
Name: Hai Giang
Hometown: Atlanta, GA / Gia Rai, Bac Lieu, Vietnam
Current Residence: New Orleans, LA
Occupation: Data Scientist
Favorite Hobbies: Traveling to new cities and using their public transit system to explore, bringing my dogs to dog parks, recreating all my favorite dishes from scratch using recipes I find online.
3 Words to Describe You: Aggressive, astute, and audacious.
Pet Peeve: I hate judgmental people. Looking down on someone for their lifestyle or choices because they’re not the same choices you make is so stupid. I hate patronizing people who talk down to others. Oh, and I hate when people wear shoes in my house.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I’m the first person from my family to go to college and graduate. I bought my first home at 24. I paid off all my student loans ($40k) by age 26. I am the youngest associate director of analytics at my company, by age 27. Most importantly, I’m mentoring my younger brother to ensure he surpasses me in all aspects. Watching him make strides in school and in his personal life is my greatest accomplishment.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? People would never guess that I grew up in extreme poverty by looking at me now. My family and I have very comfortable lives today, but we’ve had to hustle and fight for the past two decades to improve our socio-economic class. We started in a one-bedroom apartment, shared with another family. My parents both worked seven days a week to provide for us, so I was often left alone to fend for myself from the age of 8. I learned to survive and be resilient from a very young age. People don’t see that now, but I’ll always cherish those tougher years. They made me strong.
Who is your hero and why? My mother is my hero. Cliché answer, but it’s true. She came to the U.S. with my father and me as a 23-year-old refugee with no grasp of the English language and $40 in her pockets. I could only imagine how much courage that takes. She worked hard, took no breaks and was able to provide for me despite all the challenges she faced.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? I want to say Parvati, but I’m not that hot nor charming. I will realistically be similar to Aubry. She was just a strategic mastermind. She understood social rankings and was able to strategize across very nuanced alliances. She’s also non-threating, similar to myself, so I’ll focus on keeping bigger physical and social threats around to ensure myself a shield. She was also not afraid to cross-alliance lines and work with people who could further her game. Don’t rule anyone out.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I believe that I am a well-rounded individual with great logical sense, a strong ability to read social situations, amazing speaking abilities, and a strong desire to better my family’s lives. There is no alternative besides coming home with a million-dollar check.
Name: Jackson Fox
Hometown: Pasadena, TX
Current Residence: Houston, TX
Occupation: Healthcare Worker
Favorite Hobbies: Puzzling, weightlifting and dog walker.
3 Words to Describe You: Kind, dedicated and assertive.
Pet Peeve: Unorganized, no schedules and people who don’t get to the point
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Starting and running my own company.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I used to be a girl. I’m covered in tattoos. I’m a big softy when it comes to animals. I’m a collector of hurt or abandoned animals.
Who is your hero and why? My mom. No question. She had grace until the end. Her faith was unmatched. She was an awesome person. Not just a mother, but as a whole. I could only strive to be half the person she was.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Elaine! Biscuit all the way. She was hard-working, confident, resilient and played a hell of a mind game! You couldn’t not like her.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I believe it will be mentally, physically, emotionally and socially the hardest thing I’ll ever tend to do. It will break me down and challenge every aspect of my being – but I know that I am a survivor in life, and this will just be another aspect I will crush.
Name: Jenny Kim
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Current Residence: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Creative Director
Favorite Hobbies: Travel, Pilates, writing, watching movies
3 Words to Describe You: Direct, open and compassionate
Pet Peeve: Arrogant people and those with a sense of entitlement
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? As a designer, my career has certainly taken hard hits during times of recession. In those times, I’ve never given up and have, at times, shifted gears to a new career path (i.e., I became a certified Pilates instructor following the 2008 recession). I am proud of every twist and turn I have adapted to and can confidently say I am a successful design leader today.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I know how to weld and build furniture out of metal. I worked in a metal shop for a year. I’m crafty and good with my hands.
Who is your hero and why? My husband is my hero. He left Australia to follow his dream to live in New York with two suitcases and enough money to last a few months. He’s not afraid to try something different and take risks. He saved me from settling in life and inspires me to always strive for more!
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Kelly Wentworth’s tenacity is definitely something I will emulate. I don’t give up! Lauren Beck because she really studied and watched people to understand their motives. I love to study human behavior.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I have a high EQ (emotional intelligence). This means I know how to read people well and understand what they are feeling. I’m also a great listener and leader and know I will be able to gain trust.
Name: Jonathan Young
Hometown: Gadsden, AL
Current Residence: Gulfshores, AL
Occupation: Beach Service Co. Owner
Favorite Hobbies: Working out, spearfishing and surfing
3 Words to Describe You: Endurance, devoted and mentally strong
Pet Peeve: Wearing shirts, people who bully others and when people are disrespectful
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Broke the Guinness World Record for most pullups with 100 lbs on my back.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I can sing an amazing rendition of The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World.”
Who is your hero and why? Lex Luger. He is a man of God. My physical and spiritual mentor through some of the hardest times in my life.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Ozzy
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? My athleticism will help me greatly in the challenges. My wit and charm will help me outside of the challenges. I’m very strong willed and determined. I will not give up on anything.
Name: Lindsay Dolashewich
Hometown: Morganville, NJ
Current Residence: Asbury Park, NJ
Favorite Hobbies: Co-ed flag football in the sand at Bar A by the shore. Interior decorating for the holidays. Any high intensity or adrenaline activity – snowboarding, paintballing, skydiving, wake surfing, etc.
3 Words to Describe You: Loud! Growing up, my friends’ parents always described me as “the loud friend.” Talkative – all of my report cards every year [said] “talkative” or “distracts others.” Intense personality – I’m a good person, but I definitely do not mesh with everyone.
Pet Peeve: I hate wasted time. Anything that just eats away time drives me nuts. I have too much pent-up energy that I need to do something. I hate slow and quiet talkers. Spit it out and speak up! This is why New Jersey is my homeland and the only place people understand me. We are all cut from the same cloth.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Becoming a dietitian and starting my own business. I never thought I would be in this position and be taking on this role. I surprised myself with what I am capable of, and I have more motivation than ever. I clearly can do much more than I thought, and now I want to see how far I can push myself. I run my own business, I conducted my first real interview and just hired a woman who could be my mom. I am literally now a BOSS! I gathered an accountant, payroll team, billing company, logo person, etc. My family is just as shocked as I am with what I managed to accomplish in such a short time frame. And we have been so successful! We have tripled our revenue in our second year and have been recognized nationally. My entire personality screams SURVIVOR. Now with this momentum under my belt, nothing is going to stop me. Watch out tribe!
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I played tackle football. It was difficult being on a team where nobody wanted me there, including my coaches. My teammates would literally hit me harder than everyone else because I was a girl. I’m not going to lie, it hurt a lot. But that wasn’t going to stop me from playing and hitting harder back.
Who is your hero and why? I would have to say my younger sister. She graduated college to work in environmental law. She is super passionate about saving the environment and making the world safer for people. She is going to do great things. She is incredibly charming. She has this way about her that everyone immediately loves her. But she is also a very strong person. Not physically, but mentally. She does not back down from anyone or get intimidated. Even though she is my younger sister, I really look up to her. She has such great morals and is truly so caring and compassionate for others and always puts others first. She is awesome! She is just as big of a goofball as me.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Lauren Beck. She is very self-aware, and I feel like she does a great job of assessing everyone else’s strengths and weaknesses, which helps her have a very good handle on the social game and how to outwit the best out of everyone. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how physically good you are at things. The social game dictates if you get voted out. This quality is the most important in my eyes.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I can definitely outwit everyone since I am very familiar with dealing with different types of people and have always had a strategic mind. I can read people very well and am very good at persuading others. Plus, let’s be real, people are stupid. And when people are hungry, they forget how to stay composed. Once you see the cracks, it gets easier to outwit. I can outplay everyone because I am very competitive and athletic so I should be one of the top competitors in challenges. I’m an animal. I can outlast everyone because I have grit. I have always been able to endure difficult and uncomfortable situations when needed if I know there is a bigger outcome on the other side waiting for me. I don’t break easily. I have too much determination to ever think to quit. I will be the final Survivor!
Name: Lydia Meredith
Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA
Current Residence: Santa Monica, CA
Favorite Hobbies: Writing/comedy, going to music festivals, roller skating, and going to the movies by myself
3 Words to Describe You: Funny, spontaneous and loyal
Pet Peeve: When people waste my time
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Staying true to myself no matter the circumstance. Also, riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel at Disneyland despite being afraid of Ferris wheels.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I am terrified of vacuum cleaners. I can use one, but I can’t be in a room when someone else is vacuuming because people always chase me with it, and it scares me.
Who is your hero and why? Kristin Wiig. She’s so funny, adaptable, and paves the way for herself and writes.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? I think Tom Westman. He was honest, but still a great player. Also, Cirie. She is a great social player. I’ll carry my own in challenges but dominate socially. Maybe a little crazy like Debbie? Time will only tell.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I believe I could be the sole Survivor because I’m likable, funny, but also wicked smart and strategic. I’m young, but still super capable of holding my own. I’m honest, but willing to make big moves that change the game. I’m ready!
Name: Marya Sherron
Hometown: Lansing, MI
Current Residence: Noblesville, Indiana
Occupation: Stay at Home Mom
Favorite Hobbies: Gardening, writing (poetry & spoken word), and Pilates
3 Words to Describe You: Spicy, smart and loving
Pet Peeve: When someone has a big ole Snuffleupagus sneeze and doesn’t cover their nose. Oh my! And mean people.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Living my life as I believe I should; BEING the ME I like and respect. My teaching awards are pretty cool, too. Moms always feel like we need to say our kids are our proudest accomplishment – I think that goes without saying.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? Well, perhaps because I’m always in front of people in some sort of leadership role, everyone thinks I am super strong, have no problems…or never made a mistake. In reality, I am a bag of mistakes made and lessons learned. I am also tender-hearted—if someone else is hurt, I hurt. Basically, I’m a softy.
Who is your hero and why? Kious Kelly. Kious was the first nurse in New York to die of COVID-19. He gave his life for others. He was a dearly loved and respected nurse. He passed on March 24, 2020. Kious was my brother.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Ironically, a mix between Angelina and Tony. After Angelina’s turbulent first few weeks, she slipped under the radar and made it to the end. Tony brought an upbeat, funny and light energy. By the time he was recognized as a threat, it was too late.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? My greatest asset is my emotional intelligence and ability to accurately read people. My game will be easy to argue at the final three. I believe being likable and smart/savvy pays off in the end and secures the vote.
Name: Maryanne Oketch
Hometown: Ajax, Ontario
Current Residence: Ajax, Ontario
Occupation: Seminary Student
Favorite Hobbies: Tabletop / video games, reading and snowboarding
3 Words to Describe You: Energetic, empathetic, and chaotic
Pet Peeve: When people don’t listen to me, people who walk slowly in front of me, anything that disrupts my sleep, hypocrites, and people who don’t apologize.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Writing an article for my school newspaper that led to me being invited to consult with my university’s Equity and Inclusion officer on creating a better framework and support for Black students at McMaster University. Being able to use my voice for change that not only benefitted me was so empowering.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I am a great listener! Just because I talk a lot, it does not mean I am not listening. People are so used to hearing me when I am there, so when I am quiet, people usually don’t think I’m there and I can take notice on what they are saying. Also, I check in on people and let them vent to me, which gives me more context about them that can help guide my future decisions.
Who is your hero and why? My hero is my mother. She was born into poverty in a village in Kenya as the youngest of five. My mother is so hardworking and managed to get herself out of poverty and became a doctor in Kenya and was able to provide for her mom. She then gave that all up to support my father’s dreams, but then became a doctor in Canada while having three young children while dealing with the systemic racism in academic medicine. My mom sacrificed and worked so hard to give her family a better life and never faltered from her dreams. I aspire to be like her. She changed my life.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Davie. Davie was someone who had loyalty to many people, had a strong core alliance and was social. Not only that but he was able to find idols and win challenges and play idols correctly to further his game. But most of all, Davie had so much fun when he was on the island, no matter if he was on the top or bottom of his tribe. Davie had the path to 6th place, and I will perfect it to 1st.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I believe I will win SURVIVOR because I am a social person, and SURVIVOR at its core is a numbers game. I have lived in diverse cities and also been in situations where I was the only black person. But in every situation, I thrived and SURVIVOR is another place where my resilience and personality will shine. Also, I never go down without a fight. When all hope is lost, I will be searching for idols, talking to people, and convincing them that me staying is best for everyone. I am going on SURVIVOR to win and I will do everything in my power to do so.
Name: Mike Turner
Hometown: Hoboken, NJ
Current Residence: Hoboken, NJ
Occupation: Retired Firefighter
Favorite Hobbies: Working out, sports, and watching great movies
3 Words to Describe You: Loyal, loud and fair
Pet Peeve: People ripping open cereal boxes and leaving them open. People who are late.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Easy! Raising my children! I know it’s cliché, but it’s true. I come from the projects, not a very good home life, and I didn’t know how to be a father. But I watched other good fathers, learned and raised two amazing kids and I’m very proud.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I’m sensitive. I care. I get my feelings hurt. I’m smart (at least I think so). My heart hurts for the less fortunate. I love learning. I’m a straight arrow.
Who is your hero and why? Not sure if I have any heroes, but I have people I looked up to and who taught me about life, how to be a father, a hard worker, honest, and loyal: Capt. Stankiswiez, John O’Brien, Aunt Ruth and Uncle David.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? I would love to play like Boston Rob. Not sure it will work out that way but I really believe that I have all the great attributes of all the great players.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I honestly think I can be the final Survivor because I possess all the attributes needed. I’ll be a beast in challenges, a worker in camp, yet I’ll make people believe I’m not a threat until it’s too late. I also have the gift of gab! People will like me (even Jeff).
Name: Omar Zaheer
Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario
Current Residence: Whitby, Ontario
Favorite Hobbies: Training animals, Settlers of Catan, and watching TV
3 Words to Describe You: Silly, empathetic and shameless
Pet Peeve: People who complain about the cost of vet care, rudeness, feeding seeds to parrots, gym grunters, Joey from “Friends,” the fact that mini wheats have gelatin, when people talk bad about pigeons, and institutional racism.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I’m most proud of setting my mind to become an exotic animal specialist from undergrad. It is more difficult to get into vet school than med school in Canada, and the avian/exotics residency has the lowest admission rate of any specialty (3-5%). I’m also proud of maintaining my Muslim values while living in the Western world – abstaining from alcohol, pork and premarital sex – no matter how hard it may be. I am also proud of the resilience I didn’t know I had within me to deal with my father’s death in 2017.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? People would never know the difficult childhood I had financially and emotionally. We had very little money, living off my mom’s disability support; there were times where our lights were cut, we were evicted, and there was little money for food. Given that level of instability, people would be surprised to realize how far I’ve been able to come. I still love both my parents very much, but I can also recognize their shortcomings. Their love for us was never a question to me, but I can reconcile that they are imperfect people who did the best they could, even though they fell short in some important ways. Also, I’m afraid of condiments.
Who is your hero and why? Although my father had many shortcomings, he’s definitely someone I consider a hero. He had a tremendous amount of love for his children and even through some of his poor choices, that always shined through. He is missed every single day. I also admire my older sister very much because she often acted as a parent towards my younger sister and I but had no one to look up to herself. She’s always been there for us emotionally, financially, or with whatever we need. She has risen to be a top emergency psychiatrist in Toronto, and that work with mental health is so important.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Rob Cesternino’s strategic prowess – he really understood the power dynamics and when to shift the game, and also made people feel comfortable with humor. He was also able to articulate his game beautifully in confessional. Cirie Fields – her sit, wait, and strike strategy is savage. Tyson Apostol – his sass and strategic game. Kim Spradlin – her social skills were top notch, and she made an alliance with everyone, and wasn’t afraid to make moves. Natalie Anderson for her laser focus.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? “They must adapt, or they’ll be voted out of the game.” A statement that has not changed. You can look to nature and Darwin’s theory of evolution and see how the fittest survive, but the fittest may not be the lion in every situation. My ability to adapt, connect with others, understanding strategy & how to manipulate numbers, and most importantly – social awareness of myself and others are the key ingredients to success. I am not going to leave everything to starve on an island to let someone else win. I am playing for me and my family, and no one will get in the way of that. I can’t wait to do the show I love so much proud, by not only winning but being the first Indian and Muslim to do so. It would be a dream come true to see my nieces watch me win and serve as a role model – that will never leave my mind.
Name: Rocksroy Bailey
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Current Residence: Las Vegas, NV
Occupation: Stay at Home Dad
Favorite Hobbies: Playing with my kids, basketball, camping and golf
3 Words to Describe You: Thankful, calm – except when driving–and faithful
Pet Peeve: Drivers who do not use their turn signal. Someone who thinks they know everything.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I’m most proud of my family. Also being the first in my immigrant family to graduate from a four-year college. Always being faithful to my wife, kids, family and friends.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I’m an environmental scientist. I’m Jamaican. I have been to over 20 countries. I love watching golf.
Who is your hero and why? My hero has been, and always will be, my mom. She raised me in the heart of Brooklyn during a time of crack cocaine, murder and poverty. With her love and help, I am the man I am today.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? John Cochran. He understood his weakness the second time around and it strengthened him to compete and win.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? Because I’ll never forget what I’m playing for – my family and the money. The sum of which would be a life-changing amount for my family.
Name: Romeo Escobar
Hometown: Los Angeles
Current Residence: Norwalk, CA
Occupation: Pageant Coach
Favorite Hobbies: Traveling, beauty pageants and watching SURVIVOR
3 Words to Describe You: Competitive, intuitive and smart
Pet Peeve: I am a bit impatient, so I would say slow people, laziness and people who don’t know how to read a room.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Several. I always dreamed of working in the industry so I am. I dreamed of owning my own pageant, so I do. I dreamed of traveling the world, so I have. I always accomplish my goals.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? How competitive I am. Because I am a small man, and gay and Latino, people always underestimate me. I love proving them wrong. I hate losing or being wrong. I always want to have the right answer and win everything I do.
Who is your hero and why? My mother and father. They are immigrants who came to this country with nothing. They wanted a better life for their family. Despite not knowing the language, they were able to build a home and offer me a better life than the one they had growing up.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? I don’t think anyone has played a game like the one I will play. But I do want to achieve great SURVIVOR historical moments like Sandra, Cirie, Parvati, Rupert, Rob. I want to be remembered.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I know I can be the final Survivor because I am likable enough and persuasive enough to convince people to vote for me. I always find a way to get what I want.
Name: Swati Goel
Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
Current Residence: Palo Alto, CA
Occupation: Ivy League Student
Favorite Hobbies: Reading on the beach, theatre, and all things SURVIVOR
3 Words to Describe You: Competent, charismatic, caring
Pet Peeve: People who have big dreams but don’t work hard. People who are emotionally manipulative, or people who try to control me or tell me how to live my life.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? Getting into every college I applied to because I worked hard for that, writing and directing my own show and having a successful community response, and enlisting in the Army National Guard. I was raised to prioritize things like service to my country and the world. I’m really proud of my decision to enlist.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I’m a karate black belt. Just kidding. It’s jujitsu. Just kidding. Probably nothing. I am very open and honest. I don’t want my insecurities to feed into other people’s so I try to be as real as possible.
Who is your hero and why? Elon Musk. My life’s mission is to change the world for the better. Building something like Tesla, which is uber successful and also a boon to the environment, is my dream.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? A cross between Victoria Baamonde and Chaos Kass. Victoria’s blindside of Aubrey is one of the most underappreciated moves ever, in my opinion, but she needed to take more control of her game, like Kass.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? Having grown up in the most competitive environment in America, I’ve gotten pretty good at persuading people to cheerfully act in my best interests and not theirs. Recommendation letters, winning elections, high attendance for all my events, etc. — my entire life has been a highly successful exercise in persuasion. It sounds awful, but to some extent, I live every day the way Tony plays.
Name: Tori Meehan
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Current Residence: Rogers, Arkansas
Favorite Hobbies: Crossfit, playing board games or card games, spending time with family (I’m the middle child of five kids.)
3 Words to Describe You: Quirky, warm, self-aware
Pet Peeve: When people lack self-awareness, are emotionally reactive, immature, or petty
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? I graduated 100% debt-free from my undergraduate degree and paid for 50% of my master’s degree by competing in pageants and by earning academic scholarships.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I get this all the time: “When I first met you, I thought you were going to be a mean girl, but now that I know you, that’s not the case.” People tend to stereotype me, so they’re surprised when they realize I have depth, am intelligent and that I do a lot of super nerdy things.
Who is your hero and why? It would be so cheesy to say “Jesus,” but I did want to use this question to explain the importance of my faith. I am a fully devoted follower of Christ, and my life motto is to “love God and love people.” I recognize that there is a higher calling on my life than simply living for myself.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? 100% Kim Spradlin. Not only was she a beast in challenges, but her social game was so strong. She developed genuine relationships with the other players, and almost everyone considered her a trustworthy ally, even if she didn’t feel the same way about them. Her tribemates viewed her as a leader, and her alliance members followed her lead. She didn’t go into the game trying to be super manipulative and deceptive. I felt like she tried to be as authentic as she could in a game like SURVIVOR.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I am the total package. I am a strong social player because of my background in counseling and psychology, so I understand human behavior. I genuinely care about people and know how to connect on a deeper, personal level. I am an animal when it comes to anything physical because of my strength, grit, and unrelenting determination. I have studied the game of SURVIVOR, so I know what strategy will work in the game. I come off as a very sweet, trustworthy person, but people have no idea what I’m capable of. I know how to balance being a huge threat, while also drawing people in and making them want to work with me. My faith gives me an advantage because I can rely on God when I am weak and ask Him for guidance.
Name: Zach Wurtenberger
Hometown: Weston, FL
Current Residence: St. Louis, MO
Favorite Hobbies: Social strategy games, sketch comedy writing and running
3 Words to Describe You: Clever, competitive and storyteller
Pet Peeve: People who don’t tip. I used to deliver pizza, so it’s a pretty big deal for me. My biggest one is when the bill is like $19.95, and the customer handed me a $20 smiling and said, “Keep the change.” Oh, really? I get to keep your nickel? Wow, thank you so much!
What is the accomplishment you are most proud of? At the moment, there’s a bunch of academic stuff, like getting into Washington University and winning the Tournament of Champions (the biggest tournament of the year in debate). But for personal accomplishments, I’m really proud of this one sketch I wrote for our spring comedy show, titled “Skate Park.” There was no trophy or award or anything, but I worked extremely hard on it, and it absolutely killed. It was really rewarding.
What is something we would never know from looking at you? I think that a lot of people would assume because I’m young, that I’m naïve or that I have no life experience. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I am a hustler. I’ve worked hard for my grades, my scores and competitive success. I wanted to go to a top-tier school, so I worked hard to get in. I have worked hard for what I have, and I’m proud of it.
Who is your hero and why? My parents. They’ve supported me in every way imaginable and I’m so unbelievably lucky to have them. When I was going through tough times, they were always there for me, and I just want to be able to repay them some day. And for non-family hero, Ethan Zohn. He was the first Jewish person I ever saw on TV, which was so insanely cool for 5-year-old me. And beyond that, he’s just such an inspirational person.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Todd Herzog. He played a brilliant game in China, where he controlled every single vote from the shadows. We’re in a period of SURVIVOR now where the tallest tree is the first one cut; just look at Edge of Extinction’s boot order. You need to build a resume, but you can’t let anyone realize how extensive your resume is until it’s too late. Todd managed to keep his threat-level low while subtly manipulating every facet of the game and revealed everything at Final Tribal Council. I’d also love to mix that with Jeremy’s meat shield strategy, so that I’m never the first one targeted if things go awry.
Why do you believe you can be the Sole Survivor? I love all of the core skills that you need to win the game. I’m extremely personable and make friends easily. I’m super intelligent and strategic, with a vast knowledge of the game. I’m athletic enough to not be a liability, but not enough to be a threat. And most importantly, I am willing to work harder than anyone to win. In speech and debate, I competed against hundreds of students from around the country every weekend. These people were just as smart as me, just as well-spoken and just as talented. But I beat them because I worked harder and because I wanted it more. And the same will be true for SURVIVOR.