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Survivor Fan Favorites Reveal Their Best Memories
With season 35 of Survivor now on the air, we reached out to 35 former players to ask them about their favorite memory from playing the game. Read on to experience their personal, funny, touching, and emotional responses. And then come back soon as we examine the flip side and learn their worst memories.
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ETHAN ZOHN: Season 3 (Survivor: Africa) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about my time on Survivor: Africa is ‘What’s Probst really like?’ Here’s a glimpse... and I doubt Probst even remembers this moment, but I do because it was big-time and reinforced his cool factor. I’ll set the scene for you: We were getting close to the end of the game and hanging in Kenya’s Shaba National Reserve ready for our next Immunity Challenge. The challenge was simple, whip a Rungu (a Massai warrior wooden throwing club) at a bunch of hanging clay pots. Each set of pots represented a Survivor. When your pots were crushed, you were out. Big Tom won, I sucked, and I’m confident his goats would have performed better than I did.
“Anyway, as contestants, our personal communication with Probst is very limited and was always in relation to the game. But Probst and I had a moment. The challenge was over, I was still steaming over my lack of throwing skills, and bet Probst 100 shillings that he couldn’t do any better. What was I thinking? I’m not even supposed to be talking to him let alone challenging him to some silly man duel. Much to my surprise, and with a single Clint Eastwood style nod, he bent down, picked up the nearest rock and without missing a beat nailed the slim acacia tree about 60 yards away. Humbled. Impressed. Schooled.
“While still in Kenya after the final Tribal Council on day 39, I dutifully paid him all the money I had left and he took it! When I finally got home, out of curiosity, I looked up the exchange rate for 100 Kenyan shillings…it was 97 cents.”
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TINA WESSON: Season 2 (Survivor: The Australian Outback), Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“My favorite memory out of all three times I played has to be the day Katie (my daughter) and I were paired up against each other to do battle on a floating round island in the gorgeous Philippines! We had these battling rams that we were to use to whack each other into the water with. At one point, she had me down on all fours and for some reason, I got tickled and did what any mother would do in that situation. I started licking her feet! She then got tickled and Jeff wasn't a bit amused because this is Survivor and for heaven's sake, let's not have any fun here!! So as if playing Survivor isn't a great enough memory, getting to play with my daughter tops it all off!”
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MALCOLM FREBERG: Season 25 (Survivor: Philippines), Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“These days, watching ‘new-school’ Survivor, an overwhelming amount of focus is put on the strategy aspects of the game. Which is great. The show’s evolved from reality TV programming into something better described as a pseudo-sport. But while you’re out there, the highlight moments are rarely the splashy strategic plays. It’s hard to capture in the episodes sometimes, but for us playing, the once-in-a-lifetime rewards are the real treats.
“Toward the end of Philippines, I got to travel with Lisa and Skupin (damn snakes) via helicopter to a private yacht for a day of whale shark diving. Now break that sentence down: helicopter ride — I’d never done that in my life. Private yacht — not likely to happen again. Whale shark diving — I didn’t even know that was a thing. Yes, you can book one of those diving excursions yourself if you’re ever in an extremely isolated region of SE Asia. But when you do, you’re told upfront that they can’t predict where the fish will be, that you may not actually get to see the world’s biggest fish on your three-hour tour.
“CBS doesn’t take chances like that. When the three of us went out on the water, the show had booked an entire fleet of these ships to search for a whale shark. At least half a dozen boats and a pair of helicopters trolling back and forth across the bay until we finally tracked one down in the 11th hour. Experiences like that, outrageous bougie situations you’ll never be a part of again, are the memories that stick with you.”
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KELLEY WENTWORTH: Season 29 (Survivor: San Juan del Sur) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“My favorite memory is quite predictable, and for that I apologize, but it is hands down my first idol play in Cambodia. There is nothing better in life, or Survivor, when you prove everyone wrong and finally feel like you can say, ‘Hey, you, it’s time to take me seriously!’ I had held onto a secret for 20+ days and unleashed it at the exact moment I needed to. As the votes kept coming, 'Wentworth. Wentworth. Wentworth' — it just made the idol play that much sweeter. I felt in that moment that I had made my stamp on the game, and no matter what happened moving forward, no one could take that from me.”
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SHANE POWERS: Season 12 (Survivor: Panama — Exile Island)
“This was easy. There were a thousand moments to choose from and one was immediately clear as my favorite: Watching Boston come around that corner on the family visit. He was still holding onto his last moments of 'little boy' when I left to go play, and I think I was overly fixated on that as a result of how hard the depravity of surviving actually was in those earlier seasons. It was also terrible for my game as my experience felt like it had an 'end' to it before the game had ended.”
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JESSICA 'SUGAR' KIPER: Season 17 (Survivor: Gabon) and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“I had a lot of tiny victories in Survivor: Gabon, including finding the idol, my private Sugar Shack, and lasting until the bitter end. My absolutely FAVORITE moment was getting to experience some of the culture when we were on a reward where a Gabonese tribe bathed us with water and palm leaves, clothed us, gave us some crazy drug (yes), fed us a feast, and had us dance with them before an all-night prayer fest. That was something very few people get to share, and I'll never get to experience again. It was very special to me and I'll get to keep that memory forever.”
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JOHN COCHRAN: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Whether it’s Gervase struggling to choke down grubs in Borneo or James struggling to not choke down balut in China, the Survivor 'gross food' challenge has given us some of the series’ most iconic moments. With that lineage in mind, it was total wish-fulfillment just to participate in the competition — let alone win it in a photo finish against my close frenemy, Malcolm. I couldn’t help but obnoxiously celebrate my unexpected victory with the least intimidating display of shadowboxing in recorded history.”
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JENNA MORASCA: Season 6 (Survivor: The Amazon) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“During my first season on Survivor: Amazon, there were many moments that stand out so brightly in my memory even after all these years. Winning the very first immunity challenge when the boys were so cocky made us women feel like we were on top of the world. I can still remember how the immunity idol smelled when we received it after winning. But, the moment that is my favorite moment would be when my father, Michael Morasca, got to visit me during the family visit challenge. For that challenge, we had to row a VERY rickety boat in the Rio Negro to various stations in the water and answer questions correctly about the Amazon to receive bags of puzzle pieces we had to put together. As soon as Probst said whomever wins gets a visit with their family member, we all basically broke down and started crying right then and there. Little did we know our family members were hidden in the bushes not far away watching us run the challenge to see them.
“Halfway through rowing, for some reason, I jumped out of the boat and started to try and swim (which we were told NOT to do due to the crocodiles in the water) thinking it would be faster. Matthew ended up winning and he had to come out into the water to help me ashore because I just started bawling right there in the water while I was trying to swim, knowing I likely wouldn't get to see my Dad. We were lucky that Matt was, and still is, an incredibly selfless person, and allowed us all to see our family members. Being able to share that moment with your loved one is a bond and experience that is unparalleled to anything else. Going to the Amazon to see me was the first and only time my Dad traveled outside of the U.S. He was so excited because the airline bumped him up to first class on the way to Brazil. I remember him saying, 'Jen, they gave me slippers and caviar in first class. I was wearing slippers and I never wear slippers and eating caviar and I hate caviar!' It was the best.
“Up until the day my father passed away suddenly a few years ago, he talked about that family visit he attended all the time. He was so proud of me and felt so honored he got to experience part of it with me. Playing Survivor is an incredible gift, winning Survivor is an incredible honor, and sharing the experience of what it's like to play Survivor with your loved one in an incredible memory I will never forget and my favorite memory that will stay with me forever.”
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DAVID WRIGHT: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“It was night 37. We were waiting to walk into Tribal Council. Suddenly, from the darkness of the Fijian jungle, drifted the sound of a choir. Like that scene in The Shawshank Redemption, I was instantly hypnotized as I hadn't heard any music in over a month. Somewhere inside that harmony was a peaceful feeling of togetherness. I felt entirely present in a way that I never have before or since.”
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FRANCESCA HOGI: Season 22 (Survivor: Redemption Island) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Believe it or not, even in my short Survivor stints, there were a few candidates for my absolute favorite memory. In the end, I chose the one where I felt truly exuberant. It was day 2 of my first season, Redemption Island. Our tribe hadn’t been given a flint and we had no fire, so we hadn’t had water yet. A day and a half without water is brutal, especially in the Nicaraguan heat when you’re hauling bamboo and gathering firewood in the blazing sun. But with Boston Rob’s guidance, after trying for what felt like hours, we were able to make a fire. That moment when the spark finally set the coconut husk on fire was PURE JOY. We were never as united as a tribe as we were in that moment. I’ll never forget it.”
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KEN HOANG: Season 17 (Survivor: Gabon)
“One of my favorite moments on Survivor Gabon was in the early days of Fang. I remember walking into the challenge seeing two slippery slides and a puzzle at the end of the challenge. I volunteered to do the puzzle part knowing that there was a high chance of getting voted off if I were to fail. Everyone else's job was to slide down the slide and retrieve the puzzle pieces to me. Even though we were behind, as usual, I was able to pull it together and win it for the tribe — beating Bob in a simple, 'According to Jeff' math challenge. This was so glorious, because previously we had lost the two immunity challenges before that and we finally won for the first time. The best part was actually when we all got back to camp and everyone just got along. I just couldn't help but have a smile on my face knowing that we didn't have to see Jeff at Tribal Council that night.”
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JESSICA LEWIS: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“Picking one moment in Survivor as my favorite is almost an impossible task. Survivor provided so many new opportunities and experiences: like jumping into the ocean from 15 feet in the air; eating fish eyes for the first time (and then every time we ate fish); looking at the stars in such a clear night sky; almost winning individual immunity (sigh) after an hour and 42-minute battle; Jeff Probst calling me a ‘bad ass.’ But this is about one moment, so here you go. Night one. We had a quickly made, low-grade shelter that clearly illustrated our lack of time and talent. The rain was coming, slowly and sporadically, so we thought our palm fronds would do the trick. But then the rain kept coming faster and harder, along with more and more wind.
“We were huddled like newborn kittens, literally clinging to each other for warmth and trying to stay semi-dry. Now, remember, this is our first night. We barely knew each other. But that didn’t stop us from using each other’s bodies to get comfortable. When a man like Chris Hammons rests his head in David Wright’s lap so he can try to sleep for even a few minutes, you realize this game will change you. When people are vying for a place near CeCe’s butt because it seems to be emanating heat, you realize the comforts of home no longer exist.
“There was no sleep, but there was a lot of laughter. Though we were suffering through what would become a cyclone, no one complained. Rather, we told stories, laughed more than I ever thought possible, all while Bret was giving status reports on the sun (‘Any minute now’). And we actually worried about the Millennials. I think it was fair to say from the edit that they were NOT having fun. The sun did rise, though the rain never stopped, and we moved on to day two.”
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SPENCER BLEDSOE: Season 28 (Survivor: Cagayan) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“Favorite: Day: Number 1, when it all started. I felt like slapping myself as it all happened in front of me — Jeff saying 'Welcome to Survivor,' putting on the buff, meeting the tribe that'd go on to win the Survivor crown of losing. Even while falling off of J'Tia's shelter, I couldn't stop grinning like an idiot superfan every time I remembered I'M ON SURVIVOR!”
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PARVATI SHALLOW: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“So many great memories to choose from — Billy professing his undying love at first sight for Candice, our epic warbird flight to start Heroes vs. Villains, Ozzy demanding that I do an interpretive dance about how it felt to betray a friendship for a million dollars, my dad camping out with us in Cook Islands, that huge rat that ran across my chest as I slept in Micronesia, catching crabs (that one's for you, Dalton)... the list goes on."
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STEPHEN FISHBACH: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“It’s hard to choose a favorite Survivor moment. As corny as it is to say that a reality television show has created some of your life’s most intense memories, little compares to the body-convulsing ecstasy of winning a grueling challenge or the existential despair of trudging to camp after a loss. But because Dalton is forcing me to make a choice, I’ll say my favorite memory of Survivor was the night in Tocantins after we voted out Tyson. (Sorry, Tyson). That vote was the decisive moment in the season when my alliance (myself, JT, Taj George, and Erinn Lobdell) gained the numbers on our merge tribe and basically assured ourselves the final four.
“But the vote wasn’t just a numerical victory. That evening, as we returned to the shelter after Tribal Council, multiple people sidled up to me in the dark and asked if they could sleep beside me. Note: I was basically a skeleton by that point. I flailed my bony arms around in the night, woe to whomever was asleep within striking distance of a battle-sharpened elbow. No reasonable person would choose to sleep next to me. But through whatever subconscious influence that power exerts, my tribemates were clamoring to be physically close. I had started the season sleeping on the edge of the shelter – literally at the margins of the tribe. Now, through some primal wolf-pack instinct, the kind of impulse that extreme situations still wrench out of us, I was at the center. It was a wonderful moment in the game, and a fascinating insight into human dynamics.”
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CANDICE WOODCOCK/CODY: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“My favorite memory from Survivor is actually from Blood vs Water: enduring the worst Ponderosa in the history of Survivor (hello, Colton!) for multiple boot iterations knowing that John was still on Redemption Island kicking butt and taking names. I was so proud of him. Like eyeball hearts bursting emoji proud. He is a sick puzzle solver and incredibly athletic so I knew he wasn't coming home anytime soon. His undoing was the pole standing challenge. Jeff told them to keep their shoes on!!?! Never listen to Jeff. Never. Also, Yul Kwon accurately predicted John's loss in this challenge with his 'Why elephants can't climb trees' physics lesson. Him: big. Them: little(er).”
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GERVASE PETERSON: Season 1 (Survivor: Borneo) and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“One of my favorite memories of playing Survivor was our second challenge in season 1. It was an immunity challenge no one ever saw on TV because they didn't air it. Joel and Rich represented each tribe and had a long bamboo pole across their shoulders. Each member from the opposite team would fill up coconuts with a strap with water and put them on the end of the bamboo pole. If Joel or Rich fell in the ocean from the heavy weight of the water filled coconuts, they lost the challenge for their tribe. Rich was bragging about how strong he was, how light the weight was on his shoulders, and how Tagi was going to win this challenge. Then, all of a sudden. he fell in the ocean and lost. Pagong cheered with excitement! We won the first and second challenge in Survivor. We were undefeated and we definitely were in Tagi's head about who the best tribe was. We nicknamed Joel the All-American Male and celebrated the well-deserved victory.”
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PEIH-GEE LAW: Season 15 (Survivor: China) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“The best memory was my second challenge win on Survivor: China, the one where we had to run a giant obstacle course through a swamp three times and collect trivia answers. This was on day 33, and at that point in the game, I was completely drained, both emotionally and physically. I remember when I first walked out and saw the giant obstacle course, I was so out of it that I literally thought, ‘They've got to be kidding, they're not going to make us do this right now. Where's the real challenge?’ I went on to win it, and it was the most incredible feeling, especially considering I saved myself from going home that night.”
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ARAS BASKAUSKAS: Season 12 (Survivor: Panama — Exile Island) and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“For me, my favorite memory happened at a pre-merge reward/immunity challenge. The night previous to the reward, our tribe had imploded with the four-person alliance of Shane, Courtney, Danielle, and myself being torn apart by one of Shane’s unbridled emotional outbursts. I woke up the morning of the challenge disheartened, wondering how I was going to navigate my way to the end of the game with my core alliance in shambles. But more pressingly, how on Earth were we going to succeed in the upcoming reward/immunity challenge with so many in our tribe at odds with each other?
“Things weren't looking good and, as the challenge began, almost immediately we found ourselves minutes behind La Mina (the other tribe). To make matters worse, the puzzle was approaching and they had slotted rocket scientist Dan Barry as their puzzle solver. We were royally screwed... hopeless, facing a certain trip to Exile Island just before a merge that held an uncertain future. But then something happened. Amid the stress of the challenge, Dan lost this calm, abandoning his methodical approach to solving the puzzle. He lost the plot, giving Cirie and Bruce a chance to solve the puzzle. And just like that our fortunes flipped. We had pulled out the impossible. No Exile Island, no Tribal Council. Instead, we were heading to a neighboring island and having a feast with some of the local Panamanian villagers.
“I’ll never forget the experience of pure joy that day. The taste of the bbq chicken, the moment I cracked open a cold Coca-Cola, watching Shane’s face as he lit up the first of many cigarettes that he had bummed off of one of the villagers. The challenge win and ensuing reward celebrations somehow managed to heal the tribe's divisions. It was as if the nastiness of the night before had never happened. We went into the merge six strong, and we never broke."
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ELIZA ORLINS: Season 9 (Survivor: Vanuatu) and Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Survivor: Vanuatu. Day 28. Jeff brings us in for a reward challenge and he tells us we are competing for a one-hour live video chat with our loved ones. Before the challenge, we each get to say a quick hello and I'm already in tears. My mom, Susan, is my loved one and I miss her so much. We all compete in a memory challenge, which I win in a tie-breaker against Julie. Jeff says, ‘Okay, Eliza, are you ready to go have a little chat with your mom? Or would you rather your mom came (sic) out here and chatted with you? Susan, come on out!’ Meanwhile I'm screaming 'NO! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? OH MY GOD! And out jogs my mom from behind the bushes and we are hugging and crying, and then Jeff says she can spend the night at camp with us and share in my Survivor experience. When the boat comes to take her away the next morning, she literally gives me the shirt off her back and I wave as the boat carries her away in just her white sports bra.”
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JOHN CARROLL: Season 4 (Survivor: Marquesas)
“My favorite moment is just before the game begins. I am standing with Rotu and look around and Probst, Mark Burnett, Jay Bienstock, and the rest of the producers are standing amongst all of the cameras. The air smells of salt and anticipation. I am a mix of nerves, awe, and disbelief. After applying to the first three seasons and dropping out of law school, my dream of playing Survivor is on the cusp of happening. I feel like a cat about to pounce on its prey. And then those immortal words, ‘Survivors ready....... go!’ And before you know it, we have won the first immunity challenge. It would be 15 days before Rotu would sit at Tribal Council. One of my favorite moments ever.”
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SOPHIE CLARKE: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“My favorite moment on Survivor was when my tribe won the Jack and Jill challenge. The animosity between Upolu and Savaii before the challenge was palpable. We Upolans, egged on by Coach, saw our season as a showdown between good and evil— the nerds vs the jocks! The 'Dragon Slayer' vs the jungle man! 90210 vs 9021zero! And the J&J challenge was the culmination of this war. We all knew; the winner would gain the numbers and the loser would be Pagonged. Not only did our underdog ragtag family — adorned with paint-on bras and six packs — beat the actual bikini-clad hotties, but we got to kick back and catch an Adam Sandler classic as we celebrated our momentous, game changing victory!”
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JEREMY COLLINS: Season 29 (Survivor: San Juan del Sur) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“Okay, so I am going to cheat a little on my favorite moment in my Survivor experience. I cannot pick just one moment so I have a 1a. and 1b. 1a is my family visit of season 31, Second Chance, the moment when Jeff said sometimes they don't have family members visit and this is NOT one of those times. I remember my heart pounding and my knees got weak and I could hardly see through the tears in my eyes. Jeff said Val was here and I slammed my canteen on the ground, ran to Val and gave her the longest hug I've ever had. I was nervous because I expected her to be showing and she hid it so well I thought she may have lost the baby. She whispered in my ear the baby was fine and he's a boy!!!
“My 1b. is from the season finale episode of season 31. The final four was competing in the final immunity challenge and it came down to Spencer and myself. I remember hearing one of his balls hit the wooden planks and I knew I made it to the final three. It felt like an out of body experience and I couldn't control my emotions. I was happy to make it, exhausted from such a crazy season, and I tried to hold it all in because I saw how sad Kelley Wentworth was and didn't want to celebrate while she was so sad. It was a rollercoaster and a feeling I will never forget.”
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ROB CESTERNINO: Season 6 (Survivor: The Amazon) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“Many would not consider me to be a threat to win an individual immunity challenge, but I did win one during my time on Survivor. On Day 29, I won the challenge about who knows the most about their tribe. It was the greatest rush as a Survivor fan to win the challenge and then have Jeff Probst place the necklace around your neck. I hardly even minded when he would have me ‘spin and grin’ as he took it away a few days later.”
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ANDREA BOEHLKE: Season 22 (Survivor: Redemption Island), Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“When it comes to my favorite memories on Survivor, of course I loved seeing both my mom and dad out on the island, but I'll never forget how I felt when I won the final duel on Redemption Island and beat out Matt, Grant, and Mike to get back into the game. I was just this 21-year-old idiot, and I pushed myself to the limit and came back with an agenda. Even though I didn't accomplish getting Boston Rob out when I got back into the game, I felt like in that moment at the final duel, I had made my mark and had at least established myself as someone to look out for. “
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BENJAMIN 'COACH' WADE: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“My best memory is getting sent to Exile. At first, let's face it, I was completely s--- scared. But after getting out there and seeing the epicness of the giant sand dunes, the jungle, the high Savannah... all these ecosystems meeting in one place... ah, it was inspiring even to the last samurai. But the most exquisite moment came after a night of shivering in the pouring rain. I lay flat on my back and the rain was pelting so hard that sand was coming up from the ground and embedding in my hair, clothing etc.... I thought to myself, whose stupid idea was this to not built a fire or shelter? Anyway, I crawled up from the ground, soaked like wet dog, and saw a dim light over the horizon. I stood there for hours watching the dawn, shivering but unloving, meditating and cursing myself, but the moment the sun peaked over the horizon, the warmth that flooded over me was indescribable.”
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SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE: Season 7 (Survivor: Pearl Islands), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“One of my favorite moments of all time was going on my first reward ever, which happened on Heroes vs. Villains. My entire 39 days on the Pearl Islands I was never invited on a reward. My stomach had never growled so bad until we were headed to the reward. We couldn't get there quick enough and I remember pigging out on all things chocolate.”
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JONATHAN PENNER: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 25 (Survivor: Philippines)
“Favorite moment on Survivor? I had a lot, but winning my one and only individual immunity in a do-or-die situation has gotta be the top. I didn’t have time to ‘think’ — I just did it, and jumping, ducking, running and untying knots, followed by puzzle solving, all at breakneck speed, made for an amazing few minutes and memories. Having realized their puzzles need to line up via shape, pattern, and fit let me zone right in and fly. I was literally crying with relief and frankly pride and amazement. Too bad I was so exhausted from that high and effort I took my eye off the prize and made my fatal mistake(s) soon after. So it really was my last great moment. Runners up include: seeing my wife in the Cook Islands, fishing alone for hours, and coming home to hug my awesome kids when each season was over!”
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AUBRY BRACCO: Season 32 (Survivor: Kaoh Rong) and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“During Kaoh Rong, it felt like I was always coming up second place in challenges (and it turns out in the game too)! When there’s nobody you can fully trust in the game, sometimes it’s nice to see a kind face, especially when it’s someone who isn’t in the game. Jeff was that for me in Cambodia and Fiji. The reward I won in Kaoh Rong came right after Joe’s exit, which was emotional for me, and I was thrilled to have something go my way. Running to get a Jeff hug fix that far into the game was just what the doctor ordered. In Game Changers, I finally won individual immunity after 12 losses. Celebrating an immunity win on lucky number 13 AND hugging Jeff within seconds of each other? That was otherworldly.”
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TYSON APOSTOL: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“As a three-time player, I've actually had many highs. It's hard to narrow it down to just one, but I think I can and have. For me, the moment I look back on the most with fondness is day one of my first season, Tocantins, season 18. Everything leading up to that moment was the great unknown. The application process, casting interviews, travel, pregame Ponderosa, all building to the day of which you had at least some vague idea, because you'd seen it on TV. The anticipation of not knowing exactly when that day would actually come added to the excitement, nervousness, and sense of adventure for everyone on the cast.
“Day one finally arrived and as we bumped along a remote dirt road on an old freight truck in the middle of the Brazilian highlands, I remember looking around at the entire cast and thinking, 'No one here knows exactly what they're in for, including me.' Certain smells, tastes, sounds, and sights will all still remind me of those first moments in Tocantins. Coupled with fans on Twitter making sure I never forget what an a--hole I was/am, I can't help but look back and smile at the young, super lean, handsome, tan, naive, cocky kid figuring out how best to wear his buff. Super thankful a TV show captured me in my prime so I can always look back on how cool I was.”
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WHITNEY DUNCAN: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“One of my favorite Survivor memories was on Day 17 or 18, right before the merge, and Savaii had just won the challenge. At that point, Savaii was me, Keith, Jim, Dawn, Cochran, and Ozzy, and we won an excursion to Sliding Rocks in Samoa. Sliding Rocks is a bunch of natural waterslides, and it was the first time we had gotten to bathe in fresh water in over two weeks. We received letters from our family members and a huge spread of food. This is the happiest we all had been since the start of the game, and we really felt like a family that day. It was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. I was also in love with Keith, which made everything extra special. The merge came a few days later, so our happy family was soon torn apart. Hahahaha.”
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ERIK REICHENBACH: Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“It was a Survivor fan's dream to make it to day 35 of Survivor: Micronesia, outlasting all previous male competitors, and then receive tree mail outlining that the next reward challenge was based on Survivor trivia. On the way to the challenge, my fellow Dabu castmates kept asking me rookie Survivor trivia questions... ‘Who won Thailand? Which player has the most challenge wins? When was the first season with three tribes to begin?’ I knew all the answers to their questions, but played dumb and realized, ‘Holy crap. I'm about to win the next reward because I know all the answers to these and nobody else did their homework!’ I ended up winning the trivia challenge (the winning question involved a season Cirie was actually on!) and winning an incredible overnight spa reward complete with shower, dinner, and dessert. It was the first time I felt in control in all my time on Survivor — ironically, days previous to one of the biggest Survivor blunders of all time.”
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COURTNEY YATES: Season 15 (Survivor: China) and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“I love to laugh so a stand out among many favorite Survivor memories is in Heroes vs. Villains when Sandra fell across the stream and they caught it on camera. That may be the hardest I've ever laughed in my life.”
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ADAM KLEIN: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“One of the most defining moments of my entire life was seeing my brother run out of the jungle in Fiji with a giant smile on his face. My brother was actually my alternate loved one, behind my dad, so it should have been concerning to see him — but my brother had more energy and enthusiasm than I had ever seen in him, and it made everything okay in that moment. My brother and I hadn't always been close, so the time he spent on the island with me brought our relationship full circle, and we are now closer than ever. My mom's greatest regret was that her sons weren't close, and before she passed away, we got to change that for her, and for us. I am eternally grateful to Jay and Survivor (and the black rock gods) for changing my life and giving my mom that gift.”
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JIM RICE: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“I have played sports my entire life. I was kinda good at everything, but not great at anything. Growing up, I won some and celebrated with teammates and lost some and was down, but I never really knew the real thrill of victory, agony of defeat, or what my real 100 percent effort was until I played Survivor! I held weight on my back until I collapsed (still holding the all-time Survivor record, ahem), ran until I vomited, sliced my hands open breaking coconuts, pushed blocks until my legs gave out, screamed until my voice was gone, gnawed at a pig carcass with my hands tied behind my back while breathing in pork through my nose. It was brutal, but all worth it... and I would go back to do it all again in a second! You asked for a favorite Survivor memory, and that is it: finding out what my 100 percent effort is. I gave 100 percent; absolutely everything I had until I fell to the ground exhausted, gasping for air and vomiting. That's my favorite Survivor memory.”