Wearing orange and designated as "underdogs," the David tribe includes a robotics expert, a public defender, an MMA fighter and more.
Jeff Probst describes Survivor as a game of social politics that often revolves around the story of the underdog versus the favorite. With that said, meet the underdogs of season 37: the David tribe, ten men and women bonded together by the common thread of fighting tooth and nail for everything they have, and everything they want — including a million bucks.
The upcoming iteration of the CBS reality series, Survivor: David vs. Goliath, premieres September 26. Before then, get to know each of the David tribe members in the profiles below, and hear more in our preseason podcast series, "First One Out."
She's known in the mixed martial arts world as "the Killer Bi," but who was she before she found her calling as a fighter? The answer, in Bi's own words, boils down to three simple words: "I was angry."
Self-described as a brave soul throughout her life, Bi says she found a purpose through her life as an MMA athlete. Now, she's stepping into an entirely different arena: Survivor, a universe of competition that presents a completely new challenge. Indeed, Bi's biggest strength heading into the show might be her biggest weakness: she's completely new to Survivor, having only started studying the show a few weeks before shipping out to Fiji.
"I started watching a month and a half ago, but I'm obsessive. I finished six seasons. I'm so intrigued. What I'm interested in most of all is that you don't really know at what point what it is that made the winner. There are people who kill all the physical stuff, but they don't always win. There are people who are loved and adored at the beginning, and even throughout the show, but they don't win in the end. I'm here to find out what it is [that causes people to win], and I hope I'm going to be the one who finds out — and if I do? I'm never telling anyone."
Even without the answers, Bi thinks she knows what it's going to take to win: "Survivor is keeping all your tools to yourself, whether it's your personality or your idols and advantages, and using them at the right time. Timing is everything."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Bi…
Gabby: "She's a very tiny package, but I feel like it's a tiny badass package."
Pat: "She's a sleeper. She may be small, but she's always in the gym, and you can see that she's fit. Her strength and ability in challenges could carry her into the latter parts of the game. She's very capable of winning individual immunities if she makes it that far."
Elizabeth: "She's one of my targets to get to know right away, if she's on my beach. I think it would be great to have her perspective with mine. I think we could really work well together."
Nick: "She seems quiet. I don't know if she's the biggest fan. She keeps to herself and reads. I'm not sure how she'll do in the outdoors part of this. I've been camping outside all my life, so it won't be a problem for me. But using the bathroom and stuff out here? I don't know. It might not go good for her in the beginning, which could be a problem."
As long as he can remember, as far back as childhood, Carl knew exactly what he wanted out of life. Even now, it's a no-brainer. As he puts it: "What boy doesn't love big trucks?"
"Growing up, I remember telling my uncles, 'One day, I'm going to drive me an eighteen-wheeler,'" Carl remembers. "To this day, every time my uncle sees me, he says, 'Boy, you said one day you were going to drive an eighteen-wheeler. Look at you know! You're a grown man, and you did it! You achieved the goal you set out as a kid!'"
As Survivor host Jeff Probst explains it, this is a classic case of what he loves about Carl. Probst recalls the Texas truck driver's audition for the show: "When he walked in, he did something that only somebody who truly believes in themselves can do: he walked in with an 'I don't really give an eff about this show' [attitude]. What he meant was, 'I watch every week, and I love it. But jumping over hoops? No, I don't care. I have a wife, I have a truck, I have kids, I have a great life. I'm awesome. I smoke cigars. I do my whole thing. If you think I'm going to be somebody for you on your show…' And we said, 'Whoa! Where's this coming from? We don't want you to be anybody! You're awesome!'"
That attitude is ever present in speaking with Carl, who claims he wants to align with people who have similar work-hard play-hard ethics. He sums up his theory about the game in seven words: "This shit ain't going to be easy."
"For me, I'm a hard-worker. I'm going into this game and I'm going to work, work, work. Hopefully that carries me through. That's all I know how to do: work."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Carl…
Bi: "He's a cowboy. Who doesn't love a cowboy?"
Pat: "He's a cowboy. I knew it from the day he walked in. I could overhear a conversation he was having with one of the crew members, and I could hear the country in his voice. Hopefully he's someone I can work with, because I'm a bit country myself. I'm an urban red neck, so to speak. I love my country music. I definitely plan on talking to him."
Lyrsa: "He's very quiet. I don't have any kind of impressions on him. He's been so quiet. He keeps himself from the group. He's always in his area."
Christian: "I would love to talk to him. He seems open enough. I'm going to see how he responds to my general antics. If he doesn't respond well, I'm out on him."
As a longtime Survivor fan, Christian already knows what you're thinking: he reminds you of Survivor champion John Cochran. It's not a newsflash. After all, the man does own a mirror.
"I know people are going to compare me to Cochran, if it hasn't already happened. People are going to say, 'That guy looks like Cochran,'" he says. "It's weird, because when you look at yourself in the mirror every day, you don't think, 'I look like that guy from Survivor!' But then I sent in my casting photo, which was just a selfie of myself against a blackboard ... and I looked at it and went, 'You know? That does kind of look like Cochran!'"
In terms of how Christian views the game, the word "gamebot" comes to mind, not the least of which is due to his role as someone who works with robots for a living. Christian has spent hours of his life analyzing the show and engaging in ancillary material, including podcasts designed to dissect the show's strategy. We'll close our preview of Christian with one of his takeaways from observing the two players at the heart of the Survivor Know-It-Alls show on Rob Has a Podcast.
"I see Survivor as a state of matter," he says of his strategic outlook. "You have solids, you have liquids and you have gases. In an old-school Survivor game, like Thailand, you have rigid structures. Imagine you have this block that's cracked when an alliance cracks; a rogue element like Rob Cesternino comes in, and cracks it again. When everyone is a free radical, one of these rogue agents, it all starts to flow, like a gas in the air. It's almost like a phase change; you have boiled the game, and suddenly there are completely different dynamics. When [two-time player Stephen Fishbach] is talking about voting blocs, to me, what I'm hearing is that the state of the game has fundamentally changed, not that the strategy of any individual player is necessarily different. He described it as a coherence between different players. The trait of an alliance was, 'Yeah, we'll vote together, but you better not vote with anyone else.' But if that second element of the equation is gone? Suddenly you have all these molecules that are unbonded and can do whatever they want — i.e., voting blocs. That's my take."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Christian...
Gabby: "That's my fellow nerd! Obviously I have to say what's up to the guy wearing glasses. I hope he's a super fan and we can talk about strategy together."
Carl: "That's today's Cochran, which can be very fucking scary, because Cochran was one hell of a smart guy. He's one of those guys who I'm watching, floating along nonchalant. He literally puts his head down and bounces around Ponderosa. We'll have to see. Looks can fool you. We'll have to test it out and see."
Jessica: "He's kind of like the new Cochran, right? He's the type of guy who should definitely be here on Survivor. I'd want to keep him around, because whenever we get to individual immunities, he might not have as good of a chance as I will."
Nick: "I'm scared of him. I know I'm being a Benedict Arnold or a Theon Greyjoy, but I want to see the super fans go home early. I'm scared to death of them. Look at the past few seasons: Adam, David, Hannah… they were all at the end, and they all could have gone home early so easily. Ryan made it to the final three. These are all huge threats, because they know the game."
It's hard to imagine a David tribe without Davie — except, that's very nearly what happened.
A self-described die-hard Walking Dead fan who regularly dresses up as characters from the show at comic book conventions, Davie was originally slated to appear on season 38 of Survivor. His fate changed when a castaway dropped out in the eleventh hour, leaving Davie with somewhere in the neighborhood of two days between finding out he was joining the season 37 cast, and actually landing in Fiji.
"We called him in the middle of the night, asked him if he wanted to play Survivor in two days, and he said yes at the top of his lungs," Probst remembers of calling Davie for the season. "No questions about needing to call work, or having to talk to his parents and friends, needing to get somebody to watch his dog… it was just, 'Yes!' He got here and he didn't miss a beat. You would never know that guy just found out about coming out here two days ago."
Heading into Survivor, Davie speaks as if he's playing with house money, that the entire experience is fated from a higher power. As such, he claims he's entering the game hoping to live up to one of his nicknames from home: "Devilish Davie."
"I think I'm going to be an erratic player," he says. "I'm not going to let everybody know what I'm thinking. I'm probably going to align with some people, but not do it in front of anyone. I want to pay attention to people who aren't vibing with each other. If someone leaves something around and walks away, I'll hide it in someone else's bag, to pit people [against each other], to just to keep the target off of me. I'm going to be throwing monkey wrenches in this game."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Davie…
Pat: "He just came yesterday, so I haven't had a chance [to form an opinion]. He got here midday yesterday in the pouring rain, and then we went home and went to bed. I haven't seen much of him today, so it's going to be interesting."
Carl: "Everybody else, I can survey them and figure them out … but bringing a new guy in throws a monkey wrench into the game. We haven't seen anything from this guy. But, fuck, it is what it is."
Elizabeth: "I'm willing to work with anybody, so we'll see what happens."
Gabby: "I was with him in [casting finals]. I feel like he's a city guy, for sure. He's maybe a little bit out of his element, but he seems like a strong guy who's willing to work with others. It's hard for him, because he came [out to Fiji] after all of us, but I see him smiling and trying to be friendly to other people."
A long time ago, weeks before Tina Wesson became the second Survivor champion, Elizabeth watched as Rodger "Kentucky Joe" Bingham jumped off a cliff in the middle of the Australian Outback and conquered his fear of heights as a result — or at least put that fear in its place.
"This is my ticket," she says, remembering her reaction to watching Survivor for the very first time. "This show is made for me."
In the following years, Elizabeth's upbringing prevented her from watching regularly, though she managed to catch the occasional episode (and even season) here and there — including the legendary run from Survivor: Palau castaway Stephenie LaGrossa, the sole survivor of her tribe, if not the sole survivor of her season. From then on, Elizabeth traveled through life with a never-say-die attitude, eventually giving way to her current life with her husband and three children: six years old, four years old and five months old respectively, as of the time season 37 began filming.
"I think as moms, we can tend to forget that our lives are not yet over," she says about her reason for playing. "You get so focused on wiping your kids' butts and getting them ready for school and taking them to soccer, that sometimes you forget, 'Hey, what about my dreams?' That's something I want to set as an example. Some people think I'm crazy for leaving my five-month-old, my four-year-old and my six-year-old at the house. And I am! But I want to leave a legacy to them: 'Dude, follow your dreams. Knock on that door. If you don't knock on that door, the door will never open. If you knock on the door? It may open. Reach for the stars. Mama's out there. Don't quit living. You have your dreams, too — so go for it.'"
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Elizabeth…
Jessica: "I think she's kind of nerdy, but country at the same time. I'm excited to learn more about her."
Lyrsa: "I think she and I can connect. I know she has a bible with her. I used to go to church. I was very active in my church when I was younger. I think we can connect in that area."
Christian: "I've seen her writing down notes from her bible reading, so she's very religious, as far as I can tell. I wouldn't mind getting in an alliance with her, as sort of the Ryan Ulrich to her Chrissy."
Bi: "She's going to be fun to be around, or annoying as hell … I hope she has a level other than 10."
In order to experience the outdoor adventure of a lifetime known as Survivor, sometimes one must carve out a separate outdoor adventure of their own. Such was the case with Gabby Pascuzzi, member of the David tribe, who applied for Survivor once not terribly long ago, and then again a short while later. After sending in her application video, Gabby embarked on a three-day solo hiking trip — and during that excursion, the fateful call arrived.
"It was very stressful," the Colorado-based technical writer remembers with a big laugh. "It's crazy that I'm here. It all happened with lightning speed. I'm a big fan, and I'm still pinching myself."
Gabby, a lapsed Survivor fan who returned to the show during the Cambodia-set Second Chance season (her current knowledge base includes a passing familiarity with wombats and hallucinatory Ghost Island experiences), describes what makes her a threat to win the game: "I'm not only book smart; I'm emotionally intelligent. I'm good at relating to people. I'm non-threatening in a way. I have a vulnerability and an openness. People think I'm an open book; I can't possibly be hiding anything, because we're communicating freely. Hopefully by doing that, they'll tell me their secrets and tell me their plans."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Gabby...
Pat: "She's a hard read. Very quiet. She doesn't sit with anybody. Very big into books. Bit of a plain jane."
Jessica: "She's always reading a book. She's not one of the ones who's smiling and talking. She's kind of reserved."
Lyrsa: "I don't know. She hasn't given anything away. She's super quiet and super into her book. She mostly reads by herself."
Nick: "That's another one I'm scared of. I'd like to see her go home early. I think she's a big fan, and that worries me."
The latest Survivor teenager enters the game wanting to pull a page from the Michael Yerger playbook. Much like that Ghost Island castaway, Jessica intends to keep her true age a secret from the rest of the castaways — and in that regard, she already has a highly detailed backstory in mind.
"I'd rather take the precaution and go ahead and tell people I'm 22," she explains. "I already have the backstory: born in 1995, graduated in 2014. I'm going to have to explain to people why I'm not drinking at challenges, if we win beer or something. I'll just say I'm not a big drinker, especially in an environment like this, where it's super hot. I just want to be prepared. Honestly, I think I can pass for 22, no problem."
A self-professed super fan of the show, Jessica says she rewatched old seasons ahead of time to prepare for the game. Her biggest takeaway: she's going to have to play opposite the way she says she behaves in her life outside of Survivor.
"I really am a sweet person, but that's in my every day life," she says. "I'm going to make this experience completely about me, and be selfish with it. I plan on being sweet to them, and I will be sincere to an extent. But when it comes down to it, I'm here to win a million dollars."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Jessica…
Carl: "That's the little one. She has to be the smallest one out of all the girls here. She's always smiling. She has an aura of, 'Okay! Let's try it!' She's very sweet, just by looking at her."
Christian: "I think she's going to be very charming and sweet, to the point that I would be willing to work with her. I'm curious how big of a knife she's going to bring out here to stab people with."
Gabby: "I don't know how young she is, but she seems young to me. She reminds me of Julia Sokolowski [from season 32], in that she might be college aged. I think I would want to work with her."
Pat: "She reminds me of my youngest daughter. She seems like a good kid. If I can take her under my wing and use that as an advantage? Most certainly, I will exploit that."
Lyrsa, originally hailing from Puerto Rico, has been watching Survivor since the very beginning. As a result, she think she knows exactly what it's going to take to survive the grueling 39-day adventure ahead.
"A lot of what we learn in school is about observing people," says Lyrsa, who enters Survivor as an anthropology student. "Sit down and take notes. I won't be able to take notes, but I have a very good memory. I'm going to look at people and try to figure them out. Right now, I'm doing that [in the pre-game]. They think I'm playing Sudoku and reading my Spanish book, but I'm looking at them and I'm analyzing them. I'm seeing who they look at. Even though you can't talk to people right now? I know people are bonding. The way they move, where they sit down to have lunch… you know who is clicking with whom. I'm [memorizing] that."
"I'm a very social person," she insists. "I know I'm little. I'm chunky. I might not have the strength of one of the tallest dudes. But I can bring my social game. I moved from Puerto Rico to Boston a year and a half ago — a different environment, different people — and I already have a bunch of friends. I know that my social game will be my strength. I'll play them. I don't like lying. I'm not that kind of person. But this game is a different thing."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Lyrsa…
Carl: "She comes off as cool, but a little weird. She's bouncing around. I can't judge her. She may be the coolest person you've ever met, but she's always bouncing around. I haven't been able to put my finger on it. She may turn out to be my best friend, you never know!"
Gabby: "That girl is cool. She has quirky interests, and so do I. I've noticed her tattoos, and she has a couple from The Little Prince. I couldn't get a good glimpse at if she has Harry Potter tattoos, because if she does, we can talk for hours about it. I feel like if you have purple hair, you have a lot of self-confidence. She's cool."
Bi: "I'm interested to see what she's all about. She comes across a little dorky, but every once in a while, you catch her game face."
Elizabeth: "I want to work with her! I don't know if she wants to work with me. The redneck southerner working with her… it would definitely catch people by surprise, and I love screwing with people's minds. I want to be on her team."
Longtime Survivor super fan Nick Wilson says he's had two big dreams in his life: becoming a lawyer, and making it onto the show. Check and check. Now what?
"Well," he responds, "now I'm on Survivor trying to figure out how to lie about being a lawyer!"
A public defender based in southeastern Kentucky, Nick plans to lie to the other players about his profession, noting that no lawyer has ever won the game. "Becky and Culpepper got close," he says, pointing out the third-place finalist and runner-up of Cook Islands and Game Changers respectively. (Weeks after Nick embarked on Survivor, former lawyer Wendell Holland was revealed as the winner of Survivor: Ghost Island; another curse, reversed!) Instead, he plans to tell his competitors that he works in an adjacent field, so any stories that crop up about judges and courtrooms won't stand out as unusual.
"I don't know what the stigma is," he says. "I think people just want to explain away any reason to write your name down. Even if they know you're a lawyer — and I don't make much money now, but just the fact that I'm a professional — it gives you a good excuse: 'He'll be fine.' People will take any reason at all [to vote you out]. Especially in the beginning, I don't want to give up any reason at all to stick out."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Nick...
Davie: "This guy looks like he should be in The Wolf of Wall Street. He's definitely a stock broker. That's going to be my first question for him."
Carl: "He looks like he's a lawyer, off of Wall Street. He's clean shaven with beautiful fucking eyes, man. He seems like he's going to be pretty good. You can tell a person is smart, just by looking at him. He looks like he's very smart."
Christian: "I had no read on that guy until he opened his mouth and had a southern accent. Whoa! For some reason, that just did not hit me. I'm interested to see what he has to say."
Elizabeth: "I like him a lot. He's much more quiet and probably more reserved than most of the cast. I don't know why he's more quiet, if it's his upbringing, but he seems very smart and useful. He's someone who I think would be a benefit to me, because he's so quiet."
Even before logging a single minute of playtime, Pat sees Survivor as a huge victory. For one thing, it's already led to his first time ever setting foot on an airplane. For another, it's led to him swimming in the ocean for the first time in his entire life. As a huge fan of the show since the first season, Pat looks out at Survivor and sees nothing short of destiny in the making.
"This is beyond a dream," he says. "It's probably the most exciting thing that's ever happened in my life, aside from my kids being born."
Now that he's here, Pat's ready to wake up and turn his dreams of winning a million dollars into a reality.
"I know what I need to do to win this game," he says. "First and foremost, I need to build relationships I feel comfortable in. I have to string them along so they feel comfortable with me. In the same notion, I know that at some point, the guillotine is going to drop. Hopefully I can persuade the other 19 players in this game who probably want it just as much as I do [to vote my way]. I take nothing from them for that. This is a great opportunity for each one of us. Nobody's here to lose, and I know that. If I told you someone was here to lose, I would be stone-faced lying to you."
Here's how some of the other David tribe members view Pat…
Davie: "This guy is pumped to be here, you can tell. It looks like he has some walls up, but they're going to come down on this island. He's here for the right reasons."
Carl: "That's the one I call Bubba. He's a big, burly guy with lots of tattoos. He always has his earphones in, rocking out. He doesn't realize that he's just on the table, rocking on the drums, singing loud. But at the same time, he seems like he could be a hard working guy."
Bi: "Oh, he's going to be a pain in my butt. In regular situations, I would probably love him. He's a riot. But on the island 24/7 for 39 days? I think he's going to get on my damn nerves."
Gabby: "He's been the most noticeable one in our time out here. He's a big guy with a big presence and tons of tattoos. I think he's probably former military, because he has fighter jets on his arms. It's the vibe he gives off. He seems like a nice enough guy. He hasn't done anything offensive. But when you have such a big personality like that… he's always tapping his hands and humming, and his music is loud, and he's air-drumming. He draws attention to himself. I think he likes to be the center of attention and likes to be in charge. It's something I'm on the lookout for."