'Survivor: Ghost Island' Player Profile: Meet Morgan Ricke

The 29-year-old marine animal trainer from Florida thinks she can apply her work with killer whales to the killer game of 'Survivor.'
Courtesy of CBS

Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR's Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show's shooting location on Fiji, where he interviewed host Jeff Probst, as well as the 20 new castaways battling it out for the million-dollar prize.

Click here to make sure you're all caught up on our stories from the island, including our weekly podcast series "First One Out: Ghost Zero," an in-depth look at all of the new players, culminating in an interview with the first person voted out of the season, and Wigler's exclusive overnight stay on Ghost Island.

Morgan Ricke, a 29-year-old marine animal trainer, enters Survivor as a longtime fan of the show, having watched religiously with her family. After years in front of the TV set screaming at players for their bad decisions, Morgan's now set to swim into the ocean of Survivor on her own.

"We almost put Morgan on last season, but we didn't really feel like she fit the theme," says executive producer and host Jeff Probst. "The only tribe we could sort of consider was Hustlers, and it didn't feel right. We waited, and fortunately she was able to get the time off this time to play the game. We obviously really like her. In some ways, she reminds me of Kim Spradlin who won Survivor: One World. I don't know if she's as good of a social player as her. But her attitude toward life… she's physically fit, and she seems like she has a really big spirit about her. I don't know if she can win. I haven't seen it yet."

Read on for highlights from our interview with Morgan.

What drew Morgan into Survivor in the first place:

"I've been an athlete my entire life. I'm also an adrenaline junkie. I like skydiving. I was a diver in college. I love the challenge of it. It's not just the physical part. You have the social challenge and the mental aspect of it, which is probably the most interesting to me: how you handle the game mentally."

How Morgan's first day plays out, assuming everything goes perfectly:

"I'm still there on day one, so that's pretty good! It's not necessarily about making alliances right off the bat, because you don't really know people. I think my first day, I'm going to spend time feeling people out and trying to get to know people before I commit to people. That's a mistake some players make in the game: 'I want to work with you!' And then they find out the kind of person you are and they go, 'Ah, crap. Now I'm stuck. If I turn on you now, I'm screwed.' So, getting to know people. Hopefully getting a fire started and building a little hut — something so that when it rains, we're not completely soaking wet."

Morgan's ethical philosophy on Survivor:

"To me, Survivor is definitely a game. It's hard when you have people on the outside looking in and going, 'I can't believe she did that! I can't believe she lied!' But we're here to win a million dollars. You're not here to make friends. Even though that's part of it. The people who know me, they know me. My family and my friends know who I am. If they don't like me, whatever. You don't have to be my friend. I'm going to lie and steal and do whatever I need to do to win this game." 

Morgan's thoughts on the rest of the cast:

"It's a diverse group of people, for sure. Some of these guys, it looks like they just opened a men's fitness magazine and the [producers] decided: 'I'll take an order of the tall blond and a tall brunette!' One of the guys looks like Richard Simmons! It's a diverse group of people. It looks like a lot of ex-athletes. But there are also some nerdy people, too. Hopefully I'll get to align with them. I like the nerds. Go nerds!"

That's Morgan in her own words. But what do the other castaways think about her? Over the course of our interviews out on Fiji, the Ghost Island castmembers were presented with pictures of their competitors, and asked to establish their preseason thoughts. With that said, here's what they think about Morgan.

Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): "She's really nice. I say 'really nice' like I know them, but by smiles and looks, I jump to a nice first impression of her. I feel like she would be my No. 1 pick to be in an alliance with girls."

Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): "Sweet girl. I don't have much on her, but she seems really friendly."

Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): "I like her. She's pretty. She's someone who has a little half-smile walking around. I can probably work with that."

Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): "She's one I have to look out for. I know she's going to be a physically strong competitor. She's kind of bralic. I have to watch out for her physically. She may need to go ahead of the merge — like, way ahead of the merge."

Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): "Do you remember Kim Spradlin? She reminds me of Kim. She doesn't seem like one of these twenty-somethings. She's more mature and poised. She's super fit, super tall, walks around with a Louis [Vitton] bag out in the sand with some Tory Burch sandals.… You have money and you brought it out to this beach. She's someone to look out for, someone who maybe I could work with, but someone I don't want in the top three or five with me."

Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): "She seems very smart. She seems very aware. She's carrying a Louis Vitton bag, so it's like, that girl doesn't need the money! What's she doing here? But maybe it'll be me and her in the final four and I can convince someone: 'She came here with a Louis Vitton! She doesn't need the milly!'"

Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): "Very young. I think her motivations for being out here are obviously different from mine. She comes from an upper middle class. She came in carrying very expensive designer bags. She's very aware of her looks. That could hinder her. I think she's going to be more self-aware rather than situational awareness. That could hinder my game, if I do try to connect or align with her. I need someone who is going to be focused on the game, not so much focused on themselves."

Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): "She wears her expressions on her face. I feel like she's a bit transparent. But she seems smart. Very observant. It might be a bad thing that people will know what she's thinking all the time."

Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): "I think she's attracted to me, but I don't know.… I'm going to work with the people who are attracted to me physically, because you always want someone who likes you on your side, right? If you can have someone who likes you for your looks and you can tell that, definitely keep them on your side."

Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): "She's really nice. She seemed a little shy. She always has her face in a book. But lately, she's been more laughing at other people's jokes. If there's stuff happening, she's a little more in the mix. I feel like we might actually get along."

Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): "She seems nice. She was quiet at first, but she's warmed up to people, being more responsive. I know we're not supposed to interact, but it happens. While we're not talking, there's a lot of other interaction. I wasn't getting anything from her in the beginning, but as the days have gone by, I think she's warming up to people. I don't make friends right off the bat. That's something that could be tricky. But what I think works to my advantage in that regard is by the time the game starts, we've spent days together. We've traveled together. We've fallen asleep next to each other on the plane. There's a familiarity. Even if I haven't talked to them. I think that's going to help me, and I think that's what's happening with her: She's kind of starting to feel more comfortable."

Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "I like her a lot. She seems cool. She seems nice. Once again, she's expressive, which I look for. She's reading, she's attentive, she's looking around. She sat in a bean bag at one point at Ponderosa, and I laid across from her, and she smiled and waved. I can tell she's in the game of making relationships and really trying to get to know people and establish those connections early. I'm looking for that."

Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): "I think she's going to be pretty good in challenges. She has ripped shoulders. I think she might be a swimmer because she has great shoulders. I like shoulders, which is why I've noticed! I admire them, because I'm always trying to get my shoulders better! I think she's going to be really good. She has a swimmer's build, so I think she's going to be really good in the water. She seems like a nice girl, too."

Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): "She's a swimmer. Definitely a swimmer. She has a swimmer's body. Her legs are incredible. I pray to God she's on my tribe. She's pretty likable and smart. The books she's reading are pretty big books. She doesn't care too much about her appearance, but she's definitely a swimmer. The girl is lean. She is extremely lean. She has the perfect body. I think I could potentially use her for a vote."

Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): "She seems very athletic. She has a great body and is in great shape. I'm hoping we can vibe as athletic girls and get along well together." 

Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): "I think she could arguably be the most athletic of the women. I don't know how her social game will be. I think the social aspect is the biggest aspect of them all in this game. If you're good socially, you should be good to be strategic socially. If you're not good socially, you're not going to be strategic, and anyone can be athletic and get ousted. I don't think her social game is going to be up to par. I think she'll be one of the first women eliminated, even though she'll be pretty good for whatever tribe in the challenges."

Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): "She has a really kind way about her. I suspect she's somebody who is compassionate and nice. Can she flip the switch like I can? We'll see."

James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): "I think she has her shit together, very much. She knows what she's doing out here. She's not someone to mess with. Rather than work against her, I want to work with her."

Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): "I feel like she's not going to play as devious of a game, even if she says she's going to. She's one I would want to pin into my little alliance of girls. I would trust her."

Note: due to technical difficulties, there is no exit interview with Morgan Ricke, third one out of Survivor Ghost Island.

Keep up with all of our preseason interviews:

• Angela Perkins
• Bradley Kleihege
• Brendan Shapiro
• Chelsea Townsend
• Chris Noble
• Desiree Afuye
• Domenick Abbate
• Donathan Hurley
• Jacob Derwin
• James Lim
• Jenna Bowman
• Kellyn Bechtold
• Laurel Johnson
• Libby Vincek
• Michael Yerger
• Morgan Ricke
• Sebastian Noel
• Stephanie Gonzalez
• Stephanie Johnson
• Wendell Holland

What's your read on Morgan? Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below, and keep checking THR.com/Survivor for more interviews with the Survivor: Ghost Island cast.

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