Once in a lifetime
Regular readers of this column know I am a Survivor super fan. Yes, that show is still on. And this Wednesday marks a once-in-a-lifetime experience for fans –– it is the premiere of Season 40: Winners at War.
For the first and probably last time, 20 winners will compete for a record $2 million. This is a landmark event for even casual Survivor fans. Winners have played after their winning season, but they have never faced a cast of all winners and no season of Survivor has ever ended with a $2 million prize. It is unprecedented.
The returning winners are familiar to many, even those who haven’t watched the show since the early seasons. Who doesn’t know about Boston Rob, whose infamous run on All-Stars ended with him getting engaged to Amber? I’ll never forget watching that season with my mom, on pins and needles as the final votes were revealed. Rob lost to Amber then, but he has the opportunity to redeem himself this coming season.
We will also see the return of Ethan Zohn, the crazy popular winner of Survivor: Africa. Can you believe that season aired nearly 20 years ago? Like many of the early winners, Ethan has never played in the era of hidden immunity idols, clues or advantages. It is exciting to see how these players adapt to what is surely a whole new world for them.
Then you have players like Adam who grew up watching Survivor and applied several times. Winning the show is a dream for any super fan, but Adam gets to do something fans considered unlikely for many years. He will be playing against his idols –– the very players who inspired him to apply for the show –– and judging from pre-game interviews, he is playing to win.
Gideon and I started watching Survivor in 2016. I had seen a few seasons as a child and he had never seen any at all. We quickly became obsessed, caught up with every season we had missed (there were many!) and got ready to watch the show live nearly every Wednesday night of the year. The first season we watched together was Kaoh Rong, so I can’t help but root for Michele, who won that season over fan favorite Aubry.
Along with our love for the show, we have something else at stake. Gideon and I draft fantasy teams for every new season of Survivor and this season, my childhood friends have joined the draft. That means one of us gets bragging rights come May. It’s no secret that I’m a competitive person, but I will be happy with any contestant winning this season.
After all, every single person competing has proved they have what it takes to win. There’s no way to know if they will play the same game as before or switch it up. Maybe contestants known for their flashy play will tone it down. Maybe the popular social players will take a turn toward strategic play. It’s unpredictable and that’s what makes it exciting.
Jeff Probst has promoted this as the “greatest Survivor season of all time.” We’ll have to see if that’s true, but whatever happens, I am here for it.