- Former “Survivor” players told Insider what happens after they’re voted off the show.
- Some competitors relax at Ponderosa, while others keep their heads in the game.
- “Survivor” players often have to adjust both physically and mentally once they return home.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“I was smiling my way out,” Patel told Insider. “I was like, ‘You know what? My mental health is more important and it was getting too toxic. Let me go take a shower.'”
Patel said she was also weighed and given a brief physical exam before boarding the boat to Ponderosa.
“On Ponderosa you’re just free,” Patel said. “It’s complete freedom.”
At the resort, jurors can enjoy buffet-style food and plenty of drinks. Three-time competitor Andrea Boehlke told Insider it’s like “a big party every single day.”
“Survivor: David vs. Goliath” player Davie Rickenbacker also said that Ponderosa has “a lot of activities,” like massages and paddleboarding.
“I was still playing the game for him,” Rickenbacker explained. “I was going up to Goliaths you know, trying to balance for him so that they would get his vote at the end.”
He said he even chose to room with a player from the rival tribe, Dan Rengering, to “to sway him to get Nick’s vote.”
And even though Patel said she didn’t think about “what vote went where,” she was still “a little bit vocal with the other members of the jury” about her concerns with some players in the game.
But other players said it’s hard to care about the game once you’re voted out. Four-time competitor and one-time champion Tyson Apostol said if players could “forgo your jury vote to go home,” he’d choose that option “every time.”
Boehlke agreed that you care less about the outcome of the game “the longer you are in Ponderosa.”
“You want to hear the drama and what’s going on, but you’re so bitter about not winning,” Boehlke told Insider.
Several players told Insider that it’s common to eat yourself sick at Ponderosa. Apostol said he had to take medicine for his digestive tract because he did “horrible things to it.”
Many players also lose a significant amount of weight on the island, but Freberg — who said he once dropped 25 pounds (11kg) in a single season — said his biggest bodily change was lost muscle mass.
“I don’t work out like I was when I was a teenager or anything like that, but I can’t build the muscle mass back,” Freberg said. “I always had skinny legs and now they’re just twigs, and I don’t think that’s ever going to come back.”
Other ailments can require extra medical attention. Boehlke said she had to go to the hospital after a urinary tract infection she got on “Survivor: Game Changers” that spread to her kidneys.
“I was in the hospital for a week with a very severe kidney infection,” Boehlke told Insider. “It was also affecting my other organs, so my heart was in a weakened state.”
Patel also said she went to the hospital after a UTI turned into a painful bladder infection. Multiple players told Insider that CBS covered their medical costs after the show.
“I put it all on the line and I cried probably more than I ever cried,” “Survivor: Island of the Idols” player Elaine Stott told Insider, adding that she “struggled” when she came home.
Boehlke agreed that “Survivor” is an “intense experience” and that “you have to take the lows and the highs.”
Rickenbacker said that competing on a reality show that is known for changing alliances and backstabbing is a “mind f—” that leads to “a lot of sleepless nights.” But he credited CBS for providing players with therapy after they return home.
“They do have a psychiatrist for us to talk to within that first year whenever we want to talk to them,” Rickenbacker said. “And the therapist that they had for us, she’s just amazing.”
“I was a pretty noncontroversial character and I got death threats,” Boehlke told Insider. “I can’t imagine what the villains on ‘Survivor’ face.”
Boehlke said a lot of players are “good people” in “extreme conditions” and that the attacks on your character, looks, and personality “can weigh on you.”
But not all players experience that backlash. Rickenbacker said he was going to film a Jimmy Kimmel-inspired “Mean Tweets” video but was pleasantly surprised to find a lack of hate messages online.
“I had everything prepared, and I’m like, ‘Hey, where are the hate tweets?'” Rickenbacker said. “I’m searching for my name, ‘Davie,’ ‘hate,’ ‘Survivor,’ and nothing came up!'”
Stott told Insider that kids tell her she’s their “hero” and send her things in the mail that she hangs on her refrigerator — which “means way more than money.”
Rickenbacker said he, Wilson, Gabby Pascuzzi, and Christian Hubicki “chat all the time” and that it’s important to have friends from the show “who went through that same experience.”
Stott told Insider that she talks to nearly everyone from her season and invited “almost the entire cast” to her wedding.
Patel, who experienced some “maliciousness” from her castmates on the island, said that she gave everyone “the benefit of the doubt” and “got to know them outside of the game.”
“I very fortunately was able to forge friendships with people that seemed almost impossible during the game because there was a realization — ‘Hey, you know what, I wasn’t myself out there,'” Patel explained. “As soon as you acknowledge that … then you can push it aside.”