Two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson headlines the new cast of Survivor: Nicaragua when it premieres Wednesday, September 15 on CBS. The former coach (who also won college championships as both a player and a coach) and current Fox football analyst will join nine other contestants over the age of 40 on the Espada tribe to take on 10 contestants 30 and under in Survivor’s second old vs. young battle (Survivor: Panama was split into four tribes divided by both age and gender). The younger La Flor tribe features Survivor’s second amputee contestant, Kelly Bruno, who lost her right leg to a birth defect when she was six-months old (Survivor: Vanuatu also featured a contestant with an artificial limb, Chad Crittenden). “We don’t really look at Kelly as ‘let’s do another amputee,”’ Jeff Probst told EW.com while on location during filming. “When Kelly came in, it wasn’t that she had [an artificial] limb. It was that she was so charismatic. I hope Kelly lasts a long time because that’s somebody I would want in my foxhole with me.”
The old versus young division is not the only twist this season. At the very opening, Probst will reveal to the contestants a brand new item: the Medallion of Power. The Medallion can be used by a tribe to give itself an advantage in an immunity challenge, but once used, it goes over to the other tribe to use when it sees fit. “The Medallion of Power is designed to give you power at challenges,” explains Probst. “And our job is to make sure that the advantage is enough to tempt you — not so much that it’s a landslide, but enough that you go, ‘I’m not sure we should take it. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t.’”
Also, expect fewer hidden immunity idols to be played on Survivor: Nicaragua, or at least expect them to be a bit harder to find. “This season we have made changes to the hidden immunity idol,” says Probst “The only way you’re gonna find it is to decipher these cryptic visual clues. So it’s a bit like a visual riddle, and the audience will get to play along. And the first set of four clues is very difficult. The next set will be a little easier, and then by the third set, you should find it.”
Other contestants beyond Jimmy Johnson and Kelly Bruno include a former NFL cheerleader, a fire captain, an ER doctor, and a goat rancher. For exclusive video interviews and footage of each contestant, check out the video player below. (The full list of Survivor: Nicaragua contestants is below the video player.) Also make sure to check out our photo gallery of the new cast, with quotes from each. Finally, for Survivor news, views, and reviews all season long, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.
Occupation: ER Doctor
Current Residence: Erie, Penn.
Occupation: Dog Trainer
Current Residence: Jackson Spring, N.C.
Occupation: Fire Captain
Current Residence: Inglewood, Calif.
Occupation: Goat Rancher/Retired Army Officer
Current Residence: Fromberg, Mont.
Occupation: Swim Coach
Current Residence: Eureka, S.D.
Occupation: TV Sports Broadcaster/Former Football Coach
Current Residence: Islamorada, Fla
Occupation: Real Estate Executive
Current Residence: Water Mill, N.Y.
Occupation: Technology Executive
Current Residence: Mill Valley, Calif.
Current Residence: Kansas City, Mo.
Occupation: Commercial Fisherman
Current Residence: Gloucester, Mass.
LA FLOR TRIBE
Current Residence: Venice, Calif.
Occupation: Medical Student
Current Residence: Durham, N.C.
Occupation: Pest Control Co. Owner
Current Residence: Lafayette, La.
Ben “Benry” Henry
Occupation: Club Promoter
Current residence: Los Angeles, Calif.
Matthew “Sash” Lenaham
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Current Residence: New York, N.Y.
Occupation: Paddleboard Co. Owner/Ex-NFL Cheerleader
Current Residence: Miami, Fla.
Occupation: Physical Education Teacher
Current Residence: Los Angeles, Calif.
Occupation: Pro Race Car Jackman/Singer
Current Residence: Charlotte, N.C.
Occupation: Nursing Student
Current Residence: Mesa, Ariz.
Occupation: Art Student
Current residence: Downey, Calif