Survivor: Cagayan kicks off tonight with 18 new players divided into three tribes of Brains, Beauty, and Brawn. Who are the contestants to keep an eye on? Jeff Probst already gave us his take on former NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson. Here are the host’s thoughts on some of the other million dollar winner wannabees that will be making a mark — in either a good or a bad way.
“Spencer prides himself on being a superb player of Survivor and understanding human dynamics and game theory,” says Probst. “He and I had many an argument during casting on how Survivor should be played, and he is determined form day 1 to show me he knows what time it is. And I kept reminding him ‘I’m not your enemy! I’m just out there with you.’ But he’s a guy I think the audience is going to root for, and I would not have thought that before day 1. Going into day 1 I thought Spencer would be a guy that people would just generally not like. And I told him that on occasion, that you’re pretty coarse in how you talk to people. But when the game started, I found myself rooting for him and realizing that this was a kid trying to find his way in a game that he really loves. And I think people will really enjoy watching him.”
“J’Tia is a nuclear engineer and wears a shirt that says ‘I love nerds’, and I’m not sure anyone’s gonna feel too comfortable about our future knowing that J’Tia is a nuclear engineer,” says Probst. “Because she gets out there and immediately wants to take over in building a shelter and runs into problems right away.”
President of Miami Marlins
“I was surprised that David could get away from his job while his team was still playing,” says Probst. “But he was definitive in his answer and very to the point: ‘I have it worked out. Next question.’ And that’s how he plays this game. And early on, I ask him, ‘Are you used to making big decisions?’ Because you have to remember nobody knows what he does for a living. And he interrupted me before I could even finish and said, ‘Yes, I make them every day and this will just be another one.’ There is a confidence that a guy like that brings to the game who is dealing with million dollar decisions, probably on an hourly basis, that this game didn’t phase him at all. It doesn’t mean that he will gel well with others. It does mean that he doesn’t get scared off of having to make big decisions.”
Pro Poker Player
“Garrett is a professional high stakes poker player, and the guy will give James a run for his money with best body,” says Probst. “He is, underline the word, ripped. He has muscles I’ve never seen on anybody’s body. And he’s really strong. He’s a big guy. And he plays high stakes poker and was valedictorian of his class, considers himself a super brain. But he can think strategy on so many levels. You can argue that he could be put on any of the three tribes. He wouldn’t have any problem being on Brains, Beauty, or Brawn.”
Sarah Lacina & Tony Vlachos
“One of the funniest things early on is there are two cops on the same tribe,” says Probst. “Sarah is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Tony is from New Jersey. And immediately Sarah goes up to Tony and says, ‘You’re a cop. I know a cop when I see a cop and you’re a cop.’ And Tony goes ‘What are you talking about? I’m not a cop. I work in construction.’ It really does speak to Survivor that here is a woman who based on absolutely no knowledge or information figures out who this guys is, and she’s right, but he tries to convince her she’s wrong. They’re both great characters and they’re very different even though they share the same occupation. And Sarah is also a mixed martial arts fighter. She’s really likable and I think people will take to her early on.”
“Morgan was a cheerleader and is very confident and is clearly comfortable using her beauty to get what she wants,” says Probst. “And she will tell you that. And she loves the word conceited, but she’s not conceited and wants to make sure you know she’s not. It’s what we were looking for in that beauty tribe — people who really do use their looks to get what they want. And Morgan does, and has, and it works. You see it working out of the gate here. You see either people wanting to work with her because of her looks, or wary of her because of her looks. It’s one or the other depending on your experience with women has been, whether you trust her or not.”
LJ McKanas (Horse Trainer) and Jeremiah Wood (Male Model)
“L.J. is sort of a Marlboro man,” says Probst. He’s a horse trainer, has the baseball cap just slightly tilted to the side. And he’s a guy that’s not your traditional beauty in that he’s not a male model. He’s a man’s man — a good looking guy, rides a horse. And then you contrast him with Jeremiah, who is a John Deere male model, worked out on a farm, got discovered by somebody. He says the next thing he knew ‘I was sitting out on a tractor in boots making a lot of money just for how I look.’ What’s interesting about Jeremiah is that he’s not completely comfortable with being a model. He likes it but there’s a part of him that wonders: Is it real? Is it legitimate? What am I doing with my look? And is it enough? Compared to Morgan who is very comfortable with her looks and knows they are an asset, Jeremiah is still getting comfortable with the idea of being a model.”
For more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.