February 13, 2013 9:00am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Survivor: Caramoan': Fan Matt Bischoff on Facing Off Against Returning Players (Exclusive Video)
Matt Bischoff has been a longtime fan of Survivor, and originally tried out for the show in 2003, but he never heard anything from producers.
Eight years later, he decided to submit another audition video, and it was then that he got his chance to compete on the CBS reality show -- only to find out that he'd be competing against a group of returning "favorites" that he'd watched on TV for all those years.
"I was really psyched to see a lot of the players that I had admired, and some players that I thought, 'Oh man, I'm going to be playing with this person?' It was a lot of crazy, different personalities out there," he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Still, he said he worried they would have a major advantage having played before. (As seen in a sneak peek from Wednesday's premiere at the end of this post, which is exclusive to THR, the fans' tribe does in fact struggle with setting up camp in their first days on the island.)
To prepare for Survivor, Bischoff -- a 38-year-old from Cincinnati who works in BMX bike sales -- did a great deal of preparation beforehand, including physical training. But he said nothing could prepare him for what life would really be like once he got out there.
"It's like when your wife's pregnant and you're going to have a baby, and you read all this stuff and do research and think you know what to expect, but until you have a baby, you really have no clue," says the father to two boys. "That was kind of like Survivor. You can only prepare so much."
Bischoff believed that his biggest strength going into the competition was his ability to get along with almost anyone. He said people tend to trust and open up to him pretty quickly. In addition, he hoped to open up people's minds to not judge a person who happens to have an unconventional appearance.
"Obviously, I have tattoos and long hair and a beard, so I stand out in a crowd," he said, adding that he's has his current beard for seven years and aims to grow it "down to the freaking floor." "Some people in society look down on someone like me. And even other Survivors in the past, sometimes the tattooed person comes across as an outcast. But I'm a pretty conservative guy, and I get along with most people. I'm just a normal guy at heart. If I can open even a few people's minds, I'm psyched."
Survivor: Caramoan premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.