Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Erinn Lobdell on coming up one day short in Tocantins
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.
One. Day. Away. That’s how close Erinn Lobdell (who now goes by Erinn Moss) was to making it all the way to day 39 on Survivor: Tocantins. But it wasn’t close enough. Erinn was the last person voted out of the game and had to watch from the jury as J.T. Thomas defeated Stephen Fishbach to take home the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar check that goes with it.
Tentative at the outset, Erinn gained confidence as the season wore on and started making moves after the merge, aligning with the Jalapao Three and then campaigning to get Taj George voted out before her in fourth place. But her journey came to an end the very next day. What has Erinn been up to since then? And what does she have to say now about her experience in the game? We sent Erinn a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to find out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
ERINN LOBDELL (ERINN MOSS): I met my husband a few years after appearing on Survivor. He was playing in the NHL at the time. We moved around a bit while he was playing: Calgary, Arizona, and even a spent a season in Switzerland. He lost a few teeth, we had a few kids. Post-retirement, we settled in metro Detroit, near Ann Arbor, had a few more kids. We have four boys: ages 1, 2, 4, and 5. I also own and operate two Drybar franchises here in Michigan — a salon concept that specializes in no cuts, no color, just blowouts. To say I have been busy is an understatement.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I would say the thing I am the most proud of is the confidence I gained each and every day. At the onset of my Survivor journey, I was young and naive and in a weird place in life. I didn’t really know what to expect or how I would fair out there. I truly found myself, overcame some big insecurities, and by the end I was crushing it. That confidence has stayed with me in everything I have done since.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I wish I would have figured it out sooner! I regret not having enough faith in myself to truly say what I was thinking right away, or tell people what I thought should happen. Right off the bat, I was intimidated and insecure. I am one of those people who makes best friends everywhere I go, and when that didn’t happen immediately, it was like I didn’t even know myself! I have always been a natural leader and I hate that I lost that for a bit.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
My 5-year-old, Hank, tells this story better than I do, but there was one night sitting by the campfire where I got up to put a log on the fire and when I sat back down, I put my hand on the ground behind me and felt the ground slithering beneath my fingers. Another proud moment for me — I did not have one ounce of panic and simply said, “Hey, guys, I just want to let you all know that there is a snake over here!” Many gallons of panic ensued from the rest of the tribe. Production came in and had it removed.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I feel like my portrayal was pretty accurate. In my opinion "The Edit” gets a bad rap. A producer can never put actual words in your mouth or make you do something you don’t want to do. Were there times that I was shown being whiny or annoying? Sure. But I was being whiny and annoying. Luckily, I have the self-awareness to watch it back and say “Hey, I can learn from that.”
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Reentry to real life is a bit weird. I became a bit untrusting and thought everyone had some ulterior motive. I specifically remember a time at my parents’ house when I was convinced that my mom and sister left the room so they could talk about me. I confronted my sister and her response was “Dude, you aren’t that important. All that laundry we just folded? Mom and I were putting it away."
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I don’t regret one second, but there were a few looooooooong and heavy rains that if you had asked in the moment if I would like to hop in a car and get out of there, I may have taken you up on it.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Coach and I are best friends. We talk all the time because we have so much in common. Okay, that’s not true, but I do keep in touch with Debbie. We were close while filming, and became even closer after. And I have met great friends from other seasons as well. There may or may not have been a Survivor table at my wedding.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I never miss it! Fans vs. Favorites is my favorite season, so many good characters came from that one!
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
There are so many, but I have always thought that a season full of third place finishers would be a good one. It's such a weird place to be, especially if the season had a final two, like mine. The third-place finisher is good enough to get to the end, but just misses that last step. And if they had gotten to final Tribal, would they have won? I identify with that person EVERY time!
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I actually love that the show always changes just enough to stay fresh. Some changes are hits, and some are misses, but Jeff and Co. rarely miss twice.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
I have always said that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and if you have the chance to go twice you have to take it. That was easier to say ten years ago — young and single with little to no obligation. My boys are really young, and I can’t imagine being gone for so long right now. However, it is my life's dream to prove to them that I am cooler than their dad. I think this would tip the scales in my favor and teach them a thing or two about hard work, perseverance, and when it’s actually okay to call someone a jackass.