Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Alan Ball picked the worst clothes imaginable for the game
With season 41 of Survivor delayed 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.
Getting voted out on Survivor is hard enough, but imagine getting voted out because one of the votes you counted on got blocked by an advantage, and the other two got blocked by a hidden immunity idol. That's what happened to Alan Ball on day 11 of Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, when Devon Pinto had his vote blocked by Jessica Johnston and then Joe Mena used his idol to block Alan and Ashley Nolan's votes — sending Alan home with only two votes cast against him.
But that was not the most painful part of Alan's Survivor experience. No, that would be the extreme chafing brought on by a poor choice in game clothing. Now, in his Quarantine Questionnaire, the former NFL player talks about his pants mishap, as well as the highs and lows of his time on the island and what he's been up to since. Suit up for the Alan Ball Quarantine Questionnaire!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
ALAN BALL: Life has been good. I've been blessed. I was able to get involved in real estate when I was done playing football. Some of those investment opportunities led me to starting my own business that focuses on the redevelopment of homes in Detroit, my hometown. I got the company started just before the show, and now I've seen tremendous growth.
I've also started working with athletes in the Houston area: position-specific training for defensive backs readying for the combine or respective pro days, and high school athletes preparing for the collegiate level.
I've been really passionate about public speaking and having the opportunity to share my journey through nine years in the NFL, transitioning to my second career and setting the foundation for my financial freedom. I've been really fortunate to speak on a few college campuses to their student-athletes, but COVID really brought that to a halt. Hopefully soon I'll be speaking at a university near you! Outside of the stuff that pays the bills, I've been enjoying life, my wife, and my dog.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I think just doing it. At the time it seemed like it was so out of my comfort zone. Now looking back, outside of playing ball, I can honestly say it's one of the best experiences I've had. Some of the people, the conversations — it's real. It was a dope experience.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Getting voted off so soon. At the time, I was pissed, but it really hit me when I watched the show air. I feel like I let a lot of Alan Ball Survivor fans down.
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
So, for the show I chose to wear these denim joggers, and I won't say the company who made them. Anyway, the joggers are super-dope, and I loved wearing them before the show, so I said, "Why not? These would be dope on TV." Boom! I knew as soon as I jumped off the ship in episode 1 that the joggers were going to be a problem. They looked really fly, though. So I jump off the boat and go on to shore with these heavy, soaked in saltwater by now, denim joggers to start day one of this Survivor experience.
Fast-forward about week, these denim joggers can literally stand up on their own. I was wearing them in the day through sweat, saltwater, dirt, and sand. At night I was hang-drying them to let them dry or air out. Jogging pants are meant to give, have a little bit of space — comfort is king when it comes to joggers, right? Well, not when they're denim! These fly-looking joggers, after they been soaked and air-dried a few times, felt like stones and razor blades grinding up against the inside of my thighs all day! It was painful. I don't know if you've ever been on an island and the inside of your thighs have been chafed raw, and there's not a drop of Neosporin in sight… but it's not a good feeling.
So I did what any decent human being would do to remedy the situation. I cut the sleeves off my t-shirt, put them on, and pulled them up over my thighs so the joggers wouldn't rub against my legs. The whole Heroes squad thought it was hilarious, I thought it was soothing. I called them thigh-sleeves, I meant to patent them, but it got away from me. So yeah, nobody realizes it, but I go from short-sleeve T-shirt to cutoff T-shirt in a matter of episodes. And it wasn't because I was hot.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I didn't mind it at all. I am who I am and they got that! I think they did a good job of capturing what they needed to make the show what it is.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
I didn't have any culture shock. I mean, I missed my bed, my wife, the fam. One thing I did take notice of when I got back was how life is so busy sometimes. Being out there was a reminder that it doesn't really have to be that way. Life goes on whether your phone is in your pocket or not.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Zero regrets. I take that back, there is one point during the chafed-thigh fiasco that I said to myself, "Alan, why is yo ass out here?" That was real pain. At that point, I regretted going on the show in those denim joggers.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I'd probably say Patrick and Ben — those are the two that I'm in the most contact with. It's pretty random, though. The story of my relationship with Pat is pretty random in itself. Initially we figured out we couldn't be more different in a lot of ways. We got some time around each other and found out we have more in common than we initially thought. Good dude.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I haven't watched much Survivor since I was on. I've tried, but I haven't been able to tune in like I'd like.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I don't think I would make any changes. Selfishly, I would say get rid of the idols, because that's one of the reasons I got voted off. But, then again, I can't say that because I've seen some players play a hell of a game and win the game because of an idol. So I wouldn't make any changes other than have a Neosporin kit as a reward.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I think the first year off the show, I probably would have. Now, not so much. I just don't think I'd want to be gone for that long again.
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!"