Survivor: 35 Former Players Share Their Most Painful Memories
Survivor Fan Favorites Relive Their Worst Moments
“Survivor is an ass-kicker,” Jeff Probst likes to say, and the host is right. Former players say it is one of the most exhilarating experiences of their life, but also one of the most grueling and terrifying. We already asked 35 former Survivors to share their favorite memories from playing, so now we tackle the other side as we asked those same players to tell us about their most painful memory that does not include being voted off or not winning, because that’s too easy. And, as we know, nothing on Survivor is easy.
TYSON APOSTOL: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“There are a few memories throughout my storied Survivor career that even now are difficult to think about and I often revert to the ‘What could have been had I done such and such differently’ conversation with myself. My most painful memory is actually a couple days worth of misery. It was my last season, the original Blood vs Water. It started the day Rachel was voted out. All day I had thought, the only strategic vote out that makes any sense is Rachel. I kept hoping the loved ones tribe would overlook the obvious vote out, Rachel would figure a way to fight back, or they would go a different strategic direction by voting out someone whose loved one was already gone and their decision wouldn't RUFFLE any feathers on our side.
“My fears were realized as I watched Rachel walk into Redemption Island Arena. In that moment I thought, I will trade places with Rachel if she is willing and wanting to swap. Her train of thought was clearer than mine in that moment and Rachel decided to leave me in the game while she battled it out in RIA. She ended up going home that day after losing a very tough challenge in the extreme heat. I went back to camp angry at the other tribe and bothered with myself for not protecting her better. I spent the day gathering and regrouping. Long story short(er), I ended up injuring my shoulder the very next day at the immunity challenge and thought, Not only is my game finished, but if I would have swapped with Rachel. we both might actually still be in the game and I wouldn't have a hurt shoulder.
“Even with the encouragement from producers and Probst to continue, I couldn't help but feel it was the nail in the coffin for me and my days on the island were numbered as I would be unable to help my tribe physically. It was a handful of sad days feeling regret for not switching places with Rachel. When my shoulder started feeling better and as my place in the game improved, so did my spirits. In the end, it all worked out okay.”
JESSICA 'SUGAR' KIPER: Season 17 (Survivor: Gabon) and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“Survivor has many lows… hunger, lack of sleep, paranoia, physical pain, hurt feelings, etc… I had a pretty good run on Gabon, once my head was in the game. My worst Survivor moment wasn't in Gabon; it came in Heroes vs. Villains. It was basically all of H vs. V. I knew everyone was out for blood, and I was physically the weakest player on the Heroes team. I felt very alone, and I didn't trust the one person that said they were on my side (rightfully so). There was a moment before our first Tribal where he couldn't look me in the eye. That might be the actual moment. So yeah, besides my one shining, point scoring, topless (thanks, Sandra), double bird-flipping moment... those three days of my stay in Samoa were the absolute worst because I felt marked.
“Both of my stays on Survivor sucked a little of my life by having to get my head back on straight, but the people I've met because of the show (fans of the show and contestants) have really been amazing, and I cherish them all very much!”
GERVASE PETERSON: Season 1 (Survivor: Borneo) and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“One of my most painful memories playing Survivor was being constipated for 14 days. Everyone was constipated, but for a different amount of days. I went the longest. Whenever anyone had a bowel movement, they would come back to the hut and tell their story and we would laugh about it. So on day 14 I finally went to the bathroom, and I go to the hut and tell my tribe a vivid colorful blow-by-blow detail of the experience. Let's just say sticks, finger, and blood was involved. I told my tribe it felt like I passed the state of New Jersey through the Holland Tunnel. They all got a good laugh from it, but when you pass a grapefruit through a hole the size of a grape, that's painful.”
SOPHIE CLARKE: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“My least favorite moment on Survivor was not getting chosen to participate in the family visit. Now let me get a little sappy... Survivor (temporarily) changes you. The starvation and loneliness jumble your value system. For 39 days, a thousand dollars is worth less than a shower, which is worth less than a hamburger, which is worth less than a friend, which is worth less than family. This is, by the way, what I think makes Survivor so difficult! You have to have laser focus and keep the million dollars and the title of Sole Survivor at the top of that chain.
“By the time of the family visit, you’re no longer the person who didn’t come to make friends. You’re the person who — screw the money! — just wants to hug their dad. And it just plain sucks when 10 seconds and a quick plea for banana bread is all you get.”
JOHN COCHRAN: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“The first few days of Survivor are among the most stressful. You’re frantically working to create a camp infrastructure and establish the strategic partnerships that, if you’re lucky, will persist for 39 days. It’s a difficult, critical period that isn’t made any easier when a debilitating sunburn has left you lobster-red, feverish, and immobile. But that’s how my second Survivor experience began: Ordered by doctors not to leave the shelter, my swollen feet propped up on a canteen. (Shout-out to Brenda for letting me wear her flip-flops after my feet became too distended to fit into traditional shoes.) It’s easy for me to see the humor in the situation now. At the time, however, all I could think about was my charred, lifeless body being wheeled onto a helicopter — the first Survivor medically evacuated for being a pale dork.”
CANDICE WOODCOCK/CODY: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“My most painful memory is being sent over and over to Exile Island on Cook Islands by the Aitu 4. They were right to be bitter. With the exception of Ozzy, I was both a friend and ally to all of them prior to the Mutiny. I felt horrible about how disappointed they were in our lost bond because we had a great friendship and working relationship. It was strictly gameplay for me and not at all personal. I thought they would understand that. It was very short-sighted of me.
“My thinking at the time was that Becky and Yul were a fierce and inseparable strategic pair. They had begun to talk about reuniting with Brad and Jenny at the merge to give us numbers. At the time, the core "us" was Becky, Yul, Jonathan, and myself. This made Jonathan and me uncomfortable because it would put us at the bottom of the new alliance numbers-wise. Jonathan and I had talked through our contingency plan to ensure numbers after the merge. The plan was to reunite with our former tribe mates Parvati and Adam and to add Nate and Sundra. I knew Nate was down for this because Nate and I had already discussed a future alliance between Sundra, Parvati, Adam, Nate and myself when we "stole" him to Aitu for 2 days as part of a reward.
“When Jeff offered the chance for Mutiny, I thought: All the people who are in this planned alliance are still here now. I need to make sure they stay to keep my numbers up so we can best Becky and Yul in the end. I also felt that Nate, Adam, and Parvati would be easier to control than Becky and Yul, so it was a power play for me. Yul countered with a power play to get Jonathan to flip back, and that ended our chances at taking the game for good. Yul bested Jonathan and me in the end. I played my cards too soon. I think it would have been much more beneficial strategically and also have hurt the Aitu 4's feelings a lot less if I had waited until closer to the end to flip. They made me pay!!”
BENJAMIN 'COACH' WADE: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“Worst moment: first day of Tocantins. I thought I was ready for Survivor. I had lifted weights, ran for miles, mentally meditated... and as soon as we started the hike from the truck, I knew I was in trouble. The hike took us close to six hours, without water, and 120 degree heat. And carrying all of the spoils we had grabbed 'with my eyes' (LOL), halfway through we stopped at a huge termite mound and I started to black out. It was a horrible feeling not being able to will myself forward. My face must have gone white because a producer came up and asked for a medic. The little voice in my head said you are about to get pulled from the game. I had a headache for a week after, I looked weak in the tribe’s eyes, I felt embarrassed, and it was at that exact moment I realized that Survivor was real.”
JENNA MORASCA: Season 6 (Survivor: Amazon) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“Playing Survivor, we all have dark days — whether it's missing home, starving, feeling like crap, there are endless things that can make you spiral down that dark hole of sadness. Anyone who has played Survivor longer than a few days that tells you they never had a moment of darkness while playing is a liar. The days get long, your fellow contestants grate on your nerves, and you feel so hungry you think your stomach is just going to dissolve.
“The worst moment for me is when on Survivor: Amazon our camp burned down. People don't know that we were very cold at night in the Amazon. I know that's sounds crazy because it's the jungle, but when it's around 110-120 degrees all day 60 degrees at night feels like winter sometimes. When your body fat keeps disappearing, the weather feels more and more brutal as the days go by. Plus, by this time in the game, the rainy season was starting to encircle us, and cold rain plus cold nights plus blazing hot days equals a hot mess. That day our tribe gathered a bunch of firewood and went to a challenge to compete — only to come back home and see our camp and all of our personal items a dark charred mess, barely recognizable. All of our clothes, luxury items, letters from loved ones we had received earlier were gone, reduced to a blackened pile of ashes.
“It was at that point in the game where you’re close to the end but not that close, so anything negative that happens feels like a massive earthquake to your soul. It was such a blow to all of us emotionally at the most inopportune time. The morale of everyone, including myself, was crushed. I had a letter from my mom, which would end up being the last letter she wrote me, gone in the flames, a jacket/long sleeved shirt to keep me warm gone in the flames. I was not sure that we would be able to bounce back from it. It was a low point for all of us, because when you have nothing, you hang onto EVERYTHING. It was like the Survivor gods laughed in our faces and wanted to shake us up.
“Unless you play Survivor, it's hard to understand how much the emotional status of yourself and your teammates affects you and how the game gets played. It was a brutal blow at the worst time. We all had to really rally together and lift each other up to carry on and fight like the warriors we are. In the end, it did make us all stronger, but in that moment on that exact day, it was by far the worst moment we had. We survived though, because that's what we do. That's who we are. We are people who love the game of Survivor and love the struggle enough to play hard and give it all we have, good day or bad.”
ERIK REICHENBACH: Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Being medically evacuated from Survivor: Caramoan on day 36 is my most painful memory, but if I had to pick one that doesn’t have to do with me leaving the game, I’d have to go with Brandon Hantz's meltdown in Survivor: Caramoan. When I first met Brandon on the beaches of the Philippines for season 26, it was not as difficult or awkward as I had conceived in my mind from seeing his previous season. Brandon seemed straightforward, honest, and excited to be playing Survivor again. People always ask if we exchanged 'war stories' or commiserated over our past blunders — both of us had given up individual immunity and promptly been voted out by our tribemates — but it really never came up. And I actually developed a camaraderie with Brandon.
“Over time, however, I watched as he became more and more eccentric and erratic, especially when Phillip Sheppard (a.k.a. The Specialist) began badgering and berating Brandon. It all came to a head one night following a horrendous tropical storm. In the morning, their argument over the shelter and fire escalated to accusations and paranoia, and finally, Brandon snapped. He flipped the rice container, tried to pull down the shelter, knocked over quite a bit of our food supply, and retreated to the forest. Our tribe was devastated at the loss of food (some were fearful he might get violent, and hid the machete) and we eventually voted Brandon out unanimously at the next immunity challenge. To this day, I am angry over what Brandon did but more disappointed that he couldn't stick it out a few days more, ignoring Phillip. I think ultimately he is a good guy, but his demons get the better of him.”
ELIZA ORLINS: Season 9 (Survivor: Vanuatu) and Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Survivor Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites. Day 24, Airai and Malakal had just merged and I knew I was in trouble. My closest ally, Ami, had been voted out just before the merge, which was terrible news for me. I basically had no one left. But then Jason confided in me that he had the hidden immunity idol. And just before the immunity challenge, he pulled me aside and said ‘Eliza, if I win the immunity challenge, you can have my hidden immunity idol.’ I was elated. I couldn't believe how lucky I was that the ONE person I was in an alliance with had the idol and was willing to give it to me if he won immunity!
“Fast forward to the hard-fought underwater immunity challenge between Jason & Ozzy. Jason pulled out a win. Tribal Council was approaching, and I was getting increasingly nervous because Jason not yet given me the idol. Well, finally, he tells me he had put it in my bag, so I head towards the cave. (Behind the scenes tidbit: I was walking to the cave alone and a camera crew started chasing me. These guys did not run when they didn't absolutely have to, so when I heard them running, I stopped and turned around and was like, ‘You know I'm alone, right?’ They nodded and proceeded to follow me. I should've known something was up. I later found out that Executive Producer Matt Van Wagenen had told them that if they missed the moment when I saw the stick for the first time, they were all fired.) Anyhow, I dig into my bag and pull out what Jason had put in. ‘It’s just a F---ING STICK’ I knew immediately Jason had been duped and that this wasn't the hidden immunity idol and I was doomed.”
STEPHEN FISHBACH: Season 18 (Survivor: Tocantins) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“My worst moment on Survivor was getting violently sick during a monsoon in Cambodia. As the storm raged for its third night, our tribe was huddled miserably together in our disastrously-built shelter, little more than twigs and twine for protection against the erupting power of the elements. That’s when I started to feel #severegastrointestinaldistress. I prayed to the Island Gods to quiet either the rain outside or the storm inside my gut, but ultimately I had to strip off my clothes and run out into the heart of the monsoon in my bathing suit — keeping my clothes neatly folded inside the shelter just so that I would have something LESS soaking wet to return to.
“While the rest of the tribe was silently sobbing together, I was out in the storm, by myself, my body collapsing. And since this was Survivor, even as I was violently ill, I was also worrying. What did this mean for my game? Would I be pulled by medical? Would my opponents use this as a reason to vote me out? Fortunately, every cloud has a silver lining, and luckily my extreme suffering was able to give Dalton Ross something to laugh at for the rest of his life.”
ANDREA BOEHLKE: Season 22 (Survivor: Redemption Island), Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“Survivor can make you do crazy and irrational things. My least favorite memory from playing (though now hilarious to me) was a meltdown I had on Survivor: Game Changers when I couldn't open up a coconut. The cameras were all up in my business capturing this embarrassing moment where I couldn't get it open. I felt very rusty in my coconut opening skills and was ashamed and started to get very emotional. (Yes, this is silly, but you're starved on an island losing your mind.) I ended up running out of camp and actually hid from the cameras and my tribemates as I had this epic meltdown over a coconut. I was legit peeking out of weeds to make sure nobody could find me, and that's when I knew I had lost my mind. I found out later the coconut was super old and other people had trouble opening it as well. So, all that drama for nothing.”
ETHAN ZOHN: Season 3 (Survivor: Africa) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“There was one moment on the third night after Tribal Council where I almost lost it. The game was just starting and we had gotten lost as a tribe while walking back in the dark from voting Diane off at the first Tribal Council. We literally had nothing but two cherries to eat and our one canteen full of water tasted like tar because that's what they used to cure and line the inside of our pumpkin gourd canteens. The jugs of elephant s--- infused mud water we collected earlier that day were sitting dormant because we couldn't make a fire to boil it. We were live bait for any predator lurking in the trees.
“My insides were screaming for food, my brain was mush from lack of sleep, my tongue was puffy from dehydration, and we just lost two epic challenges. It was at that moment I walked away from the tribe and into our make shift lion cage / sleeping area, flopped down on the hard clay ground and looked up at the sky. I vividly remember thinking ‘What The f--- did I just get myself into? This so much harder than I ever imagined in a million years and we are only 78 hours into the game.’ I was in a complete panic and my mind body and spirit was entering survival mode. I was scared, excited, stressed, happy, nervous at the same time and worried my mom was going to watch me die on national TV. I had a moment. You all know what happens next.”
FRANCESCA HOGI: Season 22 (Survivor: Redemption Island) and Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites)
“Trying to narrow down my least favorite Survivor memory isn’t easy — I had a rough time out there! But I have to go with my very first night on Redemption Island after being voted out. It was cold, it was rainy, it was dark and I was alone. I was also dehydrated, hungry, covered head to toe in mosquito bites, exhausted and pissed off. But the worst part of it was attempting to sleep on hard bamboo all alone with a few palm fronds as a roof. I remember feeling so helpless lying there. I was freezing and miserable and getting rained on. It was truly one of the worst experiences of my life!”
JONATHAN PENNER: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 25 (Survivor: Philippines)
“Most painful memory? Honestly, waking up after my surgery in Palau. In the ‘hospital’ there, a muumuu-wearing doctor had given me a general anesthetic and then surgically scrubbed out my infected knee. But they literally don’t believe in palliative care (i.e. pain meds) in Palau, so when I suddenly woke up, alone in a concrete basement that looked like a dungeon or torture chamber, the inside of my knee felt exactly like what it was: raw hamburger that had just been scrubbed with a wire brush. Still delirious, I was in agony, and started screaming and thrashing around like a horror movie. Finally, a nurse ran in and plunged a needle into my leg, knocking me out again. Then the medical adventure REALLY began. I will never forget it, and it makes my memories of the mutiny — though hellish, regrettable, impulsive and game ending — seem like my wedding night in comparison!”
SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE: Season 7 (Survivor: Pearl Islands), Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains), and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“Thinking back, I’d have to say that one of my least favorite moments occurred deep into the Pearl Islands. We went to a reward challenge and I ended up in a team with Christa and Burton. They were not at all happy I was on their team. Well, I picked number 1, which I hoped was the easiest position in the challenge. But no, I ended up having to do the entire challenge and go across a beam that was moving with the waves and ended up hitting my entire jaw on the platform. Thank the Lord the safety people cushioned the platform or I would have broken my jaw. Anyways, yeah, we lost and Christa said ‘I knew we were screwed the minute Sandra was on our team.’ Well, it was the truth, and I love Christa to death.”
JIM RICE: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“In the first vote after the merge, the Upolu tribe and Savaii tribe each had 6 remaining members. Both sides tried to flip players to their side, but both tribes appeared to remain tight. We had won both immunities in the first immunity challenge — one for a female (Dawn), and one for a male (Ozzy) and had decided to play Ozzy's hidden idol for Whitney, leaving only 3 of us to face rocks (me, Cochran and Keith) vs. 6 of their players in the event of a deadlock. The odds were heavily in our favor to eliminate one of their players and go on to Pagong the Upolo tribe post Tribal.
“Well, the first vote was 6-6. Then, on the revote, Cochran decided to flip. 6 years later, my stomach still wretches thinking about that moment. In that single moment, all my plans were shattered. I immediately went from in control to a guy on death row. Not only did it kill my game, but Cochran was my best friend out there. We were tight. We were cracking up all the time and having fun strategy talks. I actually thought we would be good friends after the show. That moment crushed me and my game all at once. As he turned around at Tribal said ‘Sorry, I can explain’ as Keith was sent home, I could only utter one word to him: ‘COWARD.’
“As I look back, I get Cochran not wanting to take a chance; even a 1 in 9 chance at going home. I just wish he would have let me know. We could have given him an idol, tried harder to flip one of them, strategized like we had done since day 1. Instead, he played what I called "the best 3rd place game in the history of Survivor" because Cochran could have been up against Hitler and Bin Laden at the end and still not won with all the scorned Savaii sitting on the jury.”
AUBRY BRACCO: Season 32 (Survivor: Kaoh Rong) and Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“Survivor has a funny way of forcing relationships to an intimate level way too fast. It’s a bummer when you think you’ve found a friend for life and that relationship doesn’t translate into the real world. On the positive side, there are always people in the game you didn’t work with who you end up loving in reality — maybe it has something to do with the fact that you were never on each others’ sides in the game, so you never really betrayed each other. I’ve experienced both — the disappointment of learning certain relationships can only survive in the vacuum of the game as well as the happiness that others have momentum you never could have anticipated.”
JOHN CARROLL: Season 4 (Survivor: Marquesas)
“My most painful memory? Well, let's just say the human body has the ability to create some of the most noxious smells and sounds found in nature. As most Survivors will tell you, we were one stinky bunch. Some stunk worse than others. (Yes, Boston Rob and Sean, I am talking about you.) Imagine the worst morning breath you ever had, mixed with dead fish, campfire, mud, sweat, and an unflushed toilet. Combine that with crapping your pants at least once a week. And oh, let's not forget about #poopgate. That is the time Tammy told production that I was pooping in the Pacific Ocean and Probst threatened to shut down production if the poopfender did it again. BTW, that threat shut my colon down for a good two weeks.”
TINA WESSON: Season 2 (Survivor: The Australian Outback), Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars), and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“My least favorite memory came in my first season. We were STARVING! We had a reward challenge that day and it was a rainy day. Really raining! Flood type, gully washing rain! Wash away your camp — stupidly built in a dry river bed — and everything in it including your rice type of rain! But the nail in the coffin was we knew it was Thanksgiving day back home. We were missing loved ones, food, comfort, and it was just a tough day. Survivor breaks you down to your core and it is not for the emotionally weak! We had no shelter, no food, nothing! So we huddled in a circle for warmth and despite the misery of it all we each went around the circle and said what we were thankful for.
“Side note: Our field producer Maria Baltazzi felt so sorry for us she sat out in the rain with us! I loved her!”
KEN HOANG: Season 17 (Survivor: Gabon)
“During the final seven, Corinne had come up to me and asked me for a final four deal. I should have taken that deal and guaranteed myself a final four position while still having the power, but I let myself be my worst enemy and tried to uphold current promises. Sometimes I still think about it, Like, what if? But hindsight is 20/20. Also, my first few days out in Africa I noticed a ton of mosquitoes. Mosquito bites are terrible...little blood sucking tiny creatures that you can barely see all over Africa. It didn't help that we were near breeding grounds. Survivor Kenny Fact: One day I was so bored and had a lot of time on my hands, so I decided to count all my mosquito bites. Had about 260. Malnourished and eaten alive — not the greatest feeling.”
KELLEY WENTWORTH: Season 29 (Survivor: San Juan del Sur) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“The worst moment in the game was losing the final 4 immunity challenge on Second Chance. I walked in to that challenge knowing I had to win, and the second that ball dropped I felt the biggest wave of disappointment rush over me knowing I may have just lost a million bucks. After my ball dropped, I was holding on to the tiniest sliver of hope, saying over and over in my mind, ‘Please don’t let Jeremy win. Please don’t let Jeremy win.’ All I remember was Jeff Probst throwing his hands up and yelling, ‘Jeremy wins individual immunity,’ and at that exact moment I knew that my game was over.”
ARAS BASKAUSKAS: Season 12 (Survivor: Panama — Exile Island) and Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water)
“We were down to the final 5 and it was time for the Loved Ones reward challenge. Before the challenge began, Jeff paraded each of our loved ones out just 10 yards from us. Emotions were running high and we all really wanted to get more time with our loved one. This particular challenge was run in stages with someone getting eliminated after each segment. Like most challenges that season, it came down to Terry and me in the final stage. Terry and I were bitter rivals out on the island, and if I didn’t win, Terry would surely send me to Exile Island without getting to give my mother a hug. And I was planning on doing the just the same to him if I won.
“Terry dropped his fish early in the final stage, forcing him to go back. I had a lead and it was my challenge to lose. As I army-crawled through the challenge’s elevated apparatus, I lost my grip on my wooden snake and watched it fall down to the ground. I knew right away the challenge was over. There was no way to recover from such a slip-up. In that moment, I was absolutely gutted. My fate was sealed. I was certainly going to be sent to Exile Island, but worse — I wasn’t going to get to give my mother a hug. It seems so trivial now, but starved, tired, and with no one to trust on the island, it was a massive disappointment.”
PEIH-GEE LAW: Season 15 (Survivor: China) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“My most painful memory from Survivor was during my stint on Survivor: Second Chance after the first tribe swap, when I found myself on the newly formed Angkor tribe. After having a relatively comfortable position on my original tribe, and a very comfortable camp, suddenly I found myself on a desolate beach with absolutely no supplies, food or shelter. And, worst of all, I was still on a tribe with my main antagonist at the time Abi-Maria. Would not recommend. ”
MALCOLM FREBERG: Season 25 (Survivor: Philippines), Season 26 (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites), Season 34 (Survivor: Game Changers)
“You’ve got to understand, although being forced to eat live grubs and duck fetuses isn’t anyone’s ideal vacation, competing in a food eating challenge on Survivor is pretty cool for a fan of the show. It’s one of the original challenges, and participating makes you feel connected — if only via disgust — to old school legends with names like Gervase and Neleh and Heidik.
“We did a tournament style eat-off for the first individual immunity in Caramoan. For the record, yes, balut tastes as disgusting as it looks, but the real destroyer of worlds was the pig brains. Cochran and I went heads up in the final (which I totally won, by the way) and while the dish wasn’t too terrible going down, it was disastrous coming out the back end.
“Decorum dictates I not describe all the scatological details, but suffice to say we both were ‘going’ roundabout a dozen times a day for the rest of the game. The two of us were legitimately tagging one another out like WWE wrestlers as we rotated in and out of the jungle to relieve ourselves on an hourly basis. And as no one else got sick after the challenge, the ginger and I deducted it was the brains — which only we ate — that turned our bowel systems into fire hoses.”
SHANE POWERS: Season 12 (Survivor: Panama — Exile Island)
“Many things have been a bummer about Survivor and the 13 year association with the show. The worst moment probably was getting a call from Lynne Spillman the day before Heroes vs. Villains telling me I was out. I felt very well positioned to win that season had I gone. It was also the first time the show put a returnee on with the huge advantage of not having been seen by everyone else, and I lost respect for Jeff for doing it. I have always seen him as the protector of the integrity of the actual game, and I'll never understand that decision. It was honestly heartbreaking for me, and even though there have been three other times I was in the mix to play again, my resentment and behavior really made me impossible to deal with.”
COURTNEY YATES: Season 15 (Survivor: China) and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“My least favorite Survivor memory is not getting to spend time with my Dad during the family visit in China. My Dad had been paralyzed from an illness called Guillain-Barre a few years before the show and I cared for him during that traumatic time. To see him healthy and showing up suddenly half way across the world to support me when I needed him means more to me than I have words to express.”
JEREMY COLLINS: Season 29 (Survivor: San Juan del Sur) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“My least favorite moment in my Survivor experience was day 24 (I believe) of season 29 Blood vs. Water. I was sent to Exile Island for a day and woke up and got ready to pack up and head back to my tribe when I found out I was going to spend a second night on Exile with little food and water. I slept on rocks all night and fought off mosquitoes and slept with hermit crabs. It was the longest night of my life. “
PARVATI SHALLOW: Season 13 (Survivor: Cook Islands), Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia — Fans vs. Favorites), and Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
“I'm laughing inside as I think of the really horrible aspects of playing this game. And for me, the worst (besides being chased around by Russell for weeks on end) were the bodily issues that one encounters when living off of coconuts in a damp, dark jungle. But even these go away with relative speed, and the hard stuff gives perspective that all of this is temporary. So we may as well enjoy every bit of it.”
ROB CESTERNINO: Season 6 (Survivor: Amazon) and Season 8 (Survivor: All-Stars)
“When we got down to six people, we started to build a smaller shelter that was going to be more resistant to the elements. One of the features of this newer smaller shelter was that it was designed with a firewood garage to keep an increasingly large stockpile of wood dry and ready to burn. During a reward challenge (coincidentally for a barbeque reward), the entire shelter caught fire and burnt up our shelter and most of our possessions — including $240 in cash that I had leftover from the auction. In a few days, I'd go on to lose a full million dollars, but losing my clothes, my home and that $240 that really was a really bitter pill that day.”
JESSICA LEWIS: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“It was late and pitch dark. As I laid in the shelter, something felt off with my right eye. I thought maybe it had been my contact lens, but I had taken them out. This may be gross, but I could feel goop building up in my eye. It hurt, like I'd been hit. The producer I approached that night obviously couldn't see me, so his response was a quick "We'll check it in the morning." By the next morning, there was no checking because everyone could see it. I heard one of the producers yell, "Where's Jessica??!!" and the panic set in. This was bad. Really bad.
“When she saw me, her immediate response was to, basically, quarantine me. No one was to touch me or share anything with me. I was on my own on an island with people I had known for less than 3 days and who were all trying to find a reason to vote someone else out. Here was mine, presented on a silver platter. No one could tell me what would happen and I was devastated at the thought of being sent home. That horrible word — medevac — resonated through my brain. I didn't care about the condition of my eye, I was determined not to leave. But that wasn't up to me, Dr. Joe would make that decision and he wasn't going to do so until the challenge, which felt like it was so far away.
“I spent the afternoon putting on a brave face, acting like this was a non-issue (after crying profusely during a confessional). When we arrived at the challenge I was met with rubber gloves, producers instructing people not to touch my water bottle, and tribemates asking how contagious I was. Needless to say, I was extremely worried about getting voted out if we lost. Dr. Joe made the decision I could stay, but my tribe still needed to do the same. The lead up to Tribal Council was excruciating. Though I had been assured by my alliance that I was safe, I never felt like I was. Then again, you never do when you play this game, and an eye infection certainly does not help.”
ADAM KLEIN: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“Without question, my most painful memory is getting bad news about my mom. But I don't want to dwell on that, so I'll pick another: Each moment of Survivor was a dream, but having to vote people out before the merge is not fun. I know how I would feel to go home in that position, so to be the deciding factor in crushing Figgy's dream — even though it was one of the most pivotal moves I made all game — was actually (and probably surprisingly to the audience) very difficult. I was devastated at the Mari and Jessica Tribal Councils, but the Figgy vote gets the nod because I felt directly responsible. Honorable mention as well to having to vote out Jay, but he handled his exit with such grace and humor that I smiled all the way back to camp.”
WHITNEY DUNCAN: Season 23 (Survivor: South Pacific)
“My least favorite Survivor memory was our first Tribal after the merge when Cochran turned on our tribe and voted out my closest alliance, Keith. From there, our tribe was dead in the water, and it was just a Pagonging.”
SPENCER BLEDSOE: Season 28 (Survivor: Cagayan) and Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance)
“My most painful memory is the very end, although that seems a little too much like being voted out, so to stay in theme: Around day 30 of Survivor Cambodia. I fell ill, and knew something was wrong when in the hot Cambodian night, blankets weren't doing it and I wanted to be by the fire. Fever and starving are a worse combo than Rodney's chicken parm and tuna fish. The upshot here, though, was Keith Nale being a surprisingly adept nurse as I threw up the next day. If I'd had Anglim-esque hair, he might have even held it for me.”
DAVID WRIGHT: Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)
“It was night 1. We were about to go to sleep when, out of nowhere, the rain came. Cold water leaked through our shelter and followed dangling palm fronds right down our backs. Soaked to the bone, seconds passed like hours as we huddled together in a futile bid for warmth. All we could do was hope that the sun came up soon. It didn't.”