Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Gregg Carey on why players should never Google themselves
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.
Survivor players often talk about the adjustment from enjoying all the creature comforts in life to be being stripped away to nothing out in the elements when they play the game. But there is another adjustment contestants must make that takes place after the game, and that is the adjustment from anonymity to celebrity.
These days, players can watch their every social and strategic move discussed and dissected on social media. But back when Survivor: Palau aired in 2005, players had to work harder to find reaction to their appearance on the show, and even back then, doing so was never a good idea.
That’s what Gregg Carey learned when he couldn’t help himself. “By the end of the season, I was addicted to Googling myself,” says Gregg. “I’d be searching the dark corners of Survivor forums, hoping to find a new comment about 36 pages into a forum where I was listed in someone’s top 20 most boring players in Survivor history. I would then need to find another mention that offset the ego blow to stay balanced. Ultimately, that exercise allowed me to eventually learn the skills of not giving a f--- what people think.”
Gregg’s self-Googling addiction is pretty much the only thing he did not enjoy about his experience and sixth-place finish on Survivor: Palau — an experience he says helped prepare him for life after the show “Survivor revealed the confidence and paranoia spectrum for me,” says Gregg. “Which has applications in life and business. In order to lead a team, you must be confident. But, if you're too confident, you become cocky. Hubris takes over and you lose the humility to relate to others. You become blind to reality. You also need to know that competition exists. Everyone out there wants to win, and you can't lose sight of that. However, if you let that overwhelm you, paranoia sets it. At that point, you've lost all ability to communicate and build trust.”
You can trust us when we say how excited we were to have Gregg Carey fill out a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
GREGG CAREY: We’re going on like 15 years now, so quite a bit has happened so I can conveniently make this look like a humble-brag without telling the whole story. Will stick to the important basics.
Personally, I got married to a wonderful woman, who is a talented artist (@filizsoyak on Instagram). Most importantly, I became a dad to a special little girl who brings me supreme joy. I can barely remember what I was doing prior to that.
Professionally, I’ve started some companies (voxy.com), worked at some others (Singularity University), and am currently the CEO of Section119.com. We make high-quality men’s clothing and accessories and partner with musicians to license their artwork to subtlety integrate into our products.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My proudest moment was being part of the historic Koror winning streak. I think we even surprised ourselves. It was a great example of how working together and getting along goes a long way in making progress and enjoying life. What do they say, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go together.”
It was a different time in Survivor, but by winning, we were able to effectively pause some elements of the strategic game, which put more emphasis on relationships. Admittedly, we did become a bit clique and I recognize it was frustrating for some on the outside. Still, much love and respect remains for all my tribemates in Koror.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
My biggest regret is being unfair and inaccurate during the final Tribal Council towards Katie. I mischaracterized Katie and her contributions to life on the island and her gameplay. It was wrong, mean-spirited, and unnecessary.
The reality is the biggest value on the island is entertainment. It can pass time quickly and make you forget about your cravings. Because of Katie, we shared endless laughs. That is gold on the island, in my opinion.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Not sure this is “blow your mind” material, but it is something that I remember. After we killed the banded sea crates (me, Tom, Ian), we returned to camp. I began chopping some wood and immediately cut my finger open. One of the producers came up to me immediately and asked, “Did you cut yourself with the same knife you used to kill the snakes?” Producers never talk to you in camp, but there was some anxiety over us killing the snakes and attempting to eat them.
They sent the paramedics, who were a boat ride away. When they arrived, I was asked, “Do you want novocaine before the stitches?” I opted for without. Upon stitching, I immediately passed out, thinking that the novocaine was finally hitting me and I was dying.
I woke up moments later, confused, like one does after passing out. I remember looking around and seeing some half-naked people in the distance. Slowly, I reminded myself that “Oh yeah, I’m on Survivor.” It was wild.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I got an accurate edit. Nice enough guy who had some decent strategy play, but was too boring to warrant major airtime, be super memorable, or ask to be invited back to play.
Of course, I thought I had some brilliant confessionals, and I like to tell myself that they were edited out because of the slow speaking pace. After all, before the game started, we all had assigned names from Dazed and Confused. I was “Slater.”
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
The culture shock upon return wasn’t hard, but the adjustment to being on television was interesting. Watching the first show with friends, I was shivering from the sheer nerves. It was wild to shiver when you’re not cold.
Being recognized is a trip, but quite an exercise for the ego. By the end of the season, I was addicted to Googling myself. I’d be searching the dark corners of Survivor forums, hoping to find a new comment about 36 pages into a forum where I was listed in someone’s top 20 most boring players in Survivor history. I would then need to find another mention that offset the ego blow to stay balanced. Ultimately, that exercise allowed me to eventually learn the skills of not giving a f--- what people think.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Never. It was a transformative experience for me personally that came with the gift of friendships for life. Profoundly grateful for all of it.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I regularly communicate with Katie, Ian, and Tom. We can have droughts of communication, but the foundation is so strong enough that whenever we come back, there’s instant love and respect.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I do still watch, but haven’t been able to watch them all in full sadly. There’s competing forces of my daughter’s bedtime, work, and so much television to choose from with so little time.
I tend not to have favorites. I just enjoy the experience of watching each episode and appreciate the journey everyone is on within the context of their game. I admire that unfolding of the story and every time I’m captivated. I never get bored and am in complete amazement of the production. I can’t believe I got to play this game. Still doesn’t feel real.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Boston Rob, Parvati, and Adam. Rob and Parvati are just master communicators with endless charisma and smarts. At 27, I would have been torn apart by them, but at 43, I could maybe hold my own. Maybe. Probably not, but maybe.
I loved watching Adam’s transformation. He’s smart, likable, and very thoughtful. I felt some kinship in his thought process and reminded me of my interpretation of the game. Like Adam, I had just lost a parent right before the show, and Survivor was another layer to the transformative experience upon the loss of a loved one.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I’d be foolish to think I have anything to add to a show that keeps reinventing itself year after year for 40 seasons. But, since you asked, I’d like to see a revival of “Old School” Survivor. No gimmicks, brutal conditions, maximum starvation.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Man, I would love to play again…
I actually have recurring dreams where I’m convinced that I’m in the game again. It’s usually anywhere between the day before it starts to the first challenge. The setting has been random lakeside beaches (hmm, this doesn’t really feel like Survivor…) to a deserted suburban neighborhood. In the dream, I’m constantly saying to myself “Holy s---, this isn’t an actual dream this time. This is real! I’m getting to play again.” It’s so convincing.
Inevitably, the dream ends and I wake up only to be fooled once again by my subconscious. But for a few moments, it feels very real and I’m having a blast. My dreams may be my only hope. Not sure if I can remain asleep for 39 days, but for those few moments it feels so real and I get a kick out of it.