SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.

It is considered by old-school Survivor fans to be one of the best blindsides ever, when a seemingly confident Edgardo Rivera was surprisingly voted out of Survivor: Fiji. Most of the power of the blindside came from watching the smiling, laughing faces of Edgardo and his alliance mates turn on a dime as the votes started rolling in for the advertising executive.

But what if that epic blindside was not a blindside at all? That’s what Edgardo reveals in his Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire, sharing that he was actually well aware that he was the target, even though his alliance partner Alex Angarita used the hidden immunity idol on himself. That’s just one of the nuggets of intel that Edgardo is dishing as the ninth-place finisher weighs in on his proudest moment, tells us what he’s up to 13 years later, and reveals that production actually stopped filming for two hours at one point during the season. Why? Read on to find out.

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.

EDGARDO RIVERA: After Survivor, I moved back to Puerto Rico to be closer to my family, became a father of twins, and continued my career in advertising.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

There are some proud moments. First of all, being selected among thousands of people felt like a great accomplishment itself. I think winning 10 challenges in a row was something very difficult to accomplish. I don’t know many tribes throughout the duration of the show have been able to accomplish that.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

We knew I was the target the day I got voted out. The edit didn’t show it that way for obvious reasons. I could sense it also as we walked to Tribal Council, and at that time Alex was carrying the Immunity Idol we found together with Mookie. By that time, everybody was looking out for themselves and not looking at the game in the long run. I wish I would’ve had more conviction during an exchange with them and taken the idol for myself knowing what was going to happen. The outcome would’ve been way different for all three of us.

What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?

It’s hard to pinpoint. There were a lot of crazy moments — from people losing their s--- to people waking up with ants, bugs, and spiders on top of their bodies in the mornings. I think the one that made me feel like “This is only for the insane,” was the day that production had to stop rolling for about two hours because they thought someone was bit by a deadly poisonous sea snake. That would have been a first.

How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?

I think I got a pretty good edit as compared to some of my tribemates. I was a little frustrated with my final Tribal Council edit because I was not surprised at all getting voted out. It looked like I was blindsided when, in reality, we knew I was due.

What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

When you come back, your body isn’t what it used to be for a while. I lost around 30 pounds in 29 days, so getting acclimated was difficult. From a psychological standpoint, it’s hard to go two-and-a-half-months without talking with your family, friends, etc. Once you come back, you appreciate more of the little things such as silverware, drinking cold water, having a prepped meal. You don’t understand how much time we spent on the island talking about what would be the first meal we would have once we got back. Being hungry and dehydrated for 29 days is not the best feeling.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?

The first two days were the roughest for me. I was constantly telling myself, “What the hell am I doing here with [these] other 18 crazy people?” It was raining, people were not getting along, there were a lot of discussions amongst people. There is a lot of stress because you want to start making alliances and making sure you put yourself in a good spot to at least give you a chance to make it to the final 10.

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?

After the show, I kept in touch with some of the cast. I talked to Alex, Mookie, Earl, Rita, Michelle, and James (Rocky). After a while, you kind of do your thing and unfortunately don’t talk as much with some of them as you would like. Mookie and James have visited me in Puerto Rico. Once in a while, we text or write to each other through social media.

Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?

I don’t watch Survivor regularly. I get a little PTSD.

Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?

There are a lot of characters from other seasons that I would’ve loved to play with or against. I think I would’ve liked to team up with Sandra, not only because of her Puerto Rican background but also because she probably knows better than anyone all the layers that are weaved into the game.

If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?

The simplicity of the game is what makes it great and somewhat relatable. You get 20 people on an island and the last one standing wins. The more immunity idols, curveballs, and rules thrown into that formula make the game not only look like it is being manipulated, but also throws the viewers off a little. Keep it simple. Twenty people, one or two immunity idols, and let people strategize. That’s where the beauty of the game is.

Finally, would you play again if asked?

Definitely, yes. A chance to compete and to redeem yourself from the last attempt would definitely would be worth it.

To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub, and follow Dalton on Twitter.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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