16 surprising things you didn't know about 'Survivor'

CBS/IMDbThe show has been on for over a decade.
  • “Survivor” is now on its 38th season.
  • All of the contestants are paid for their time on the show, even if they don’t win.
  • “Survivor” premiered in the US in 2000, but it took a long time for that debut.

Outwit, outlast, outplay. Or, in this case, out-knowledge you on “Survivor” facts you definitely didn’t know. With its 38th season premiering this week, this nearly 20-year-old show has no plans for slowing down anytime soon.

Dozens of remote locations around the world, an eclectic cast of characters, and intense physical and mental challenges have proved to be the perfect combination for this ever-popular CBS production. And, although most of what you see on camera is representative of the show itself, there are plenty of “Survivor” secrets you never knew.


There’s a lot you don’t see when the cameras stop rolling.

CBS/IMDbTeams get a chance to discuss challenges before they compete in them.

Although technically reality TV, there’s a lot you don’t see when the cameras stop rolling. For instance, after host and producer Jeff Probst tells the tribes about the daily challenge, he and challenge creator John Kirhoffer walk through the challenge with each tribe, giving them the opportunity to strategize before the challenge actually begins, according to Today.


“Survivor” is popular worldwide.

Kevin Winter/GettyThere are fans all over the globe.

Outside of the US, there have been “Survivor” franchises in 51 different countries, including Vietnam, Turkey, and Brazil to name a few.


“Survivor” premiered in the US in 2000, but it took a long time for that debut.

IMDbThe first series premiered in Sweden.

The idea for “Survivor” was first created by producer Charlie Parsons in 1992 for a UK production company, but the first ever “Survivor” series to debut on TV was in Sweden. The show, which first aired in 1997, was called “Expedition Robinson.”


Many couples have met on the show.

Scott Gries/GettyRob and Amber got engaged during the All-Stars finale.

Although “Survivor” is all about survival, that doesn’t mean the show is immune from love arcs. In fact, in its 36 season history, “Survivor” has seen its fair share of couples, including “Boston” Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich who fell in love on “Survivor: All-Stars.” The two ended up going head-to-head for the $US1 million prize, with Amber winning it all.

The two later married and have since had four children. They are also the only “Survivor” couple to have each won individual titles as “Sole Survivor.”


Read More:
7 ‘Survivor’ couples who are still together


Contestants have spanned age groups.

CBS/IMDbThe youngest contestant on the show so far.

The youngest contestant on “Survivor” was Will Wahl, who was 18 years old when he appeared on Season 33: “Millennials vs. Gen X.” Meanwhile, the oldest contestant to ever appear on the show was former Navy SEALRudy Boesch, who starred on the 1st and 8th seasons of the show at ages 72 and 75, respectively.


No, seriously, anyone can win this game …

CBS/GettyThere have been winners of all ages.

Speaking of age, the youngest person to ever win survivor was Jud “Fabio” Birza who won “Survivor: Nicaragua” at 21 years old. On the flip side, the oldest person to win “Survivor” was Bob Crowley, who was 57 years old at the time.


Sometimes scenes are re-enacted.

CBS/IMDbFans aren’t crazy about this.

In a controversial move, executive producer Mark Burnett has admitted to reenacting certain scenes on “Survivor” to get a better shot, as per ABC. The show has even been known to use body doubles for this same reason. As a “reality” show, many people have found these reenactments a bit… unreal.


Some people have given up.

CBS/IMDbQuitters don’t win — and might not even make it on the jury.

In its 19 years on air, “Survivor” has had 12 people quit the show. Although each reasoning is different, host Jeff Probst has a very well-known distaste for people who quit the show, according to a 2015 interview with Entertainment Weekly.


Everyone gets some money.

CBS/IMDbShe’s the only one who’s won twice.

So far, only one person has won the survival game twice: Sandra Diaz-Twine. But don’t worry, she’s not the only “Survivor” to get a cash prize for appearing on the show. Everyone gets a certain amount of compensation, with people lasting the longest getting the most money. The second place player gets $US100,000, which isn’t the worst thing to happen to a reality TV loser.


People don’t usually win the car and the ultimate prize.

Frederick M. Brown/GettyThere are a few superstitions about the show.

Superstition is not strange in the game of “Survivor.” In fact, the “car curse” is the most notorious superstition on this show, with no player winning a car ever winning the final $US1 million prize money.


Don’t forget to pay your taxes if you do win though.

CBS/IMDbWinning the show doesn’t excuse you from the law.

The first-ever “Survivor” winner, Richard Hatch, was convicted of tax evasion in 2006 for not paying taxes on his $US1 million winnings. According to Forbes, Hatch served 51 months in federal prison for his convictions and his story is a reminder for all game show winners to include their winnings on their yearly tax forms.


One “Survivor” contestant has achieved some pretty impressive records.

CBS/IMDbHe’s been on the show for a lot of days.

Ozzy Lusth, has a few records to his name. He’s spent the most time as a contestant on the show with 128 days total, he is one of four people to have played “Survivor” four times, and he is the only competitor to have been voted off three times in a single game.


Some of the contestants are models and actors.

CBS/IMDbThere’s nothing wrong with that.

Casting director Lynne Spillman told “Today” in 2008 that the show frequently casts models and actors as contestants on the show. Although they still go through the rigorous casting process, these recruits have reportedly been chosen due to a lack of qualified applicants in a given year.


Perfection is possible on the show.

CBS/IMDbCochran’s unanimously won and was never voted against throughout his entire season.

Only one person in “Survivor” history has attended and survived every tribal council on their season and that honour goes to Season 25 winner Denise Stapley. And, speaking of impressive wins, both Season 18’s JT Thomas and Season 26’s John Cochran have played “perfect games,” meaning they won the final tribal councils with a unanimous vote and didn’t have anyone vote against them throughout the entire game. Now, that’s impressive.


You’re never too famous for “Survivor.”

CBS/IMDbCelebrities can compete, too.

Celebrities are heavily invested in the “Survivor” franchise. Musician Sia donated $US100,000 to her favourite player, Season 32’s Tai Trang, Tyler Perry was the genius behind Season 28’s shocking immunity idol twist, and numerous of the rich and famous have played as contestants, including baseball player John Rocker, “Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel, and even football player Brad Culpepper.


“Survivor” host Jeff Probst was almost not involved at all.

Kevin Winter/GettyHe’s irreplaceable.

And, last but certainly not least, “Survivor” was almost much different, with Jeff Probst said he faced off against “The Amazing Race” star Phil Keoghan for the title of “Survivor” host, as per Probst’s 2013 interview with Archive of American Television. What could have been, we will never know. For now, we’ll continue to love Probst’s insightful tribal council commentary and utter disgust for quitters.

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