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Welcome to the Survivor: Ghost Island preseason! THR’s Josh Wigler reports from his visit to the show’s shooting location in 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.
Twenty people are about to begin their quest for the million dollar prize on Survivor: Ghost Island, premiering February 28 on CBS with a two-hour episode. Only one will win the Sole Survivor title. All others will fall by the wayside, blindsided and backstabbed along the way toward the Final Tribal Council. It’s part of the bargain; the players know the drill.
But for one castaway, they will have gone through years of dreaming about Survivor, months of a rigorous casting process, weeks and weeks of preparation and days on lockdown in Fiji waiting for the game to begin — all for only three days of play time. Becoming the first one out is the nightmare scenario for everyone who steps onto the Survivor battlefield, and yet, for one unlucky individual, it’s a nightmare that’s going to become all too real.
As part of our preseason coverage, The Hollywood Reporter has explored the castaways of Survivor: Ghost Island in the podcast series First One Out, designed to uncover the identity of the first person voted out of the game. Listen to the podcasts embedded below, and read on for each Ghost Islander’s take on the possibility of becoming the first one out of the season.
Angela Perkins (Army Veteran, Naviti Tribe): “I would be saddened and pissed off in the beginning. But to take it all in for the opportunity to be here… it’s amazing. They chose you for a reason. Obviously you can compete. Sometimes we go home and it’s not our choice. It’s not by our actions. Especially the first person off. You don’t get a lot of time to give that first impression. You have to hit the ground running. Just like when you’re jumping out of an airplane. You have to hit that shit running. You don’t have time to think about what route you’re going to take. You just have to do it. Sometimes it’s out of your control. A lot of times, it’s out of your control. But you know what? I made it [onto the show]. That in itself is pretty amazing.”
Bradley Kleihege (Law Student, Naviti Tribe): “That would be a huge bummer. Yeah, I would be pretty devastated. There’s not a whole lot that you can do in three days if it goes bad. It goes back to what I said to [host Jeff Probst]. If I last three days or if I last 20 days or if I last 39 days, I just want to make Survivor as good as it can be. I want to do my part. I want to go out swinging. I hope to god it’s not me. I’m going to win.”
Brendan Shapiro (Physical Education Teacher, Malolo Tribe): “My biggest fear in all of this after wanting to be here so long is getting voted out first, second or third — something like that. I feel like the longer I hang in there, the more I have a chance to understand what people need emotionally. I can use that and give it to them to make sure I’m the one they want to partner with. If it’s a hyper-aggressive cast and I’m looked at as a threat out of the gate? That’s my nightmare. That’s what keeps me up. I don’t want to be the first one gone. Hopefully I can avoid that fate.”
Chelsea Townsend (Cheerleader and EMT, Naviti Tribe): “You don’t see it on the show — all of the sudden people are out there and they’re in the game — but there’s a lot of work that goes into getting onto this show, and all of the casting, and Ponderosa, and all of the prep… it’s a lot of work. Everyone comes out hopeful that they’re going to do very well, and that’s not always the case. It’s hard to go through all of this and only be out here for a matter of a couple of days. But I think that’s why you have to go out there. But it’s not going to be [me]. Don’t put that out there! It would suck, that’s for sure. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t think anyone does. You want to be there at the end. You want the million-dollar check in your hand!”
Chris Noble (Male Model, Naviti Tribe): “It won’t be me. I won’t even allow that to be an option in my head. Then the universe in some fucked up way is going to do that to me, and I don’t want it to. I envision myself going to the end, all 39 days. I have a story to tell. I have money to put in my paper bag. I have some asses to kick. At the end of the day, I’m blessed for this opportunity.”
Desiree Afuye (Student, Naviti Tribe): “It wouldn’t be that tough for me. I honestly feel like everything that happens is meant to be. This just fell in my lap. It was meant to be. If I go home first? It was meant to be. I may get invited back just like Francesca, who was the first one voted off and then was invited back. That may happen. Everything happens for a reason.”
Domenick Abbate (Construction Supervisor, Naviti Tribe): “I’ll first have Probst kick me square in the balls, then he can snuff my torch, and I’ll have a beer and salute Survivor island. I would be devastated, obviously. But after it all goes through my system, I’ll be grateful and I’ll say, ‘What a great time. What a great opportunity. I can’t believe I went out first! My family and my wife, they’re all going to kill me when I get home! But that’s the game.’ I’m not going to kill myself — but it’ll hurt! Certainly will need some ice.”
Donathan Hurley (Caretaker, Malolo Tribe): “It would be a heartbreaker at first, but I’m not a sore loser. If three days is what I experience, then that’s what I experience. I’m going to go on to other places and experiences in the world. I’ve always been in Eastern Kentucky, and one thing I can say right now is I’m having the time of my life. There’s nothing better right now, no matter what.”
Jacob Derwin (Music Teacher, Malolo Tribe): “I so badly want us to win that first immunity. I literally don’t want to be the guy who breaks someone’s dream that early. Even beyond the possibility of me going home first? No vote will be harder for me or more painful. Who do I think it will be? If I have any say, I want it to be the surfboard guy, because I feel like he’ll set a bad precedent for what my tribe is banking on. Who do I think it will be? I hate to say it, because I really want to work with her, but I do think it could be my fellow bookworm who I had the tea moment with. Just because if she’s on a tribe with a bunch of bikini babes and they’re all getting along? It’s going to be hard for her. Hopefully it’s not her. I want to work with her.”
James Lim (Business Analyst, Malolo Tribe): “I think Vytas said it when he came back for Second Chance and was the first one voted off: it’s worse than not coming in the first place. You’re so amped up. Your life is going to change. You’re going to have so much fun. It’s going to be awesome. Then you have the infamous tag of the first one out on you. I think it would be so anti-climactic. Not just for me, but everyone here. The absolute nightmare scenario. I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that’s not me. In the early stages, it’s an anyone-but-me mentality. Quickly build an alliance, put the target on someone outside of the alliance for a pretty valid reason. Let’s win the challenge, but if it doesn’t happen, let’s go for X. It would suck, but I’m not even going to entertain the idea too much.”
Jenna Bowman (Advertising Account Executive, Malolo Tribe): “It would be devastating. It would be embarrassing to be the first person out. At the same time, I feel like it would still be a learning lesson. What did you do that was so wrong that they didn’t trust you and they wanted you out? In the long run, it would be a good social learning lesson. But even just making it this far is an accomplishment. I just have to look at the positive of it. I made it through casting. I made it three days. I did things I never thought I would do. It’s still a positive experience.”
Kellyn Bechtold (Career Counselor, Naviti Tribe): “To be the first one out? I mean, could I live with myself? Yes. Would it be all sorts of awful, except just one level down from that? Yeah, it would be a pretty big bummer to be the first one out. But I think someone on the staff said, ‘People are brought to Survivor. It’s written in the stars, who ends up here.’ If I was the first one to go, I think I could find meaning in this journey through the casting process and coming here to Ponderosa and seeing behind the scenes of this show that I love. There would be a lot of positives to still come out of it. Would I feel absolutely devastated, like my dreams were cut short? Yeah. So I sure as hell hope it’s not me. But I know it’s one of us. I’ll do whatever I can to not be the first one out.”
Laurel Johnson (Financial Consultant, Malolo Tribe): “Awful. Worst case scenario. I can’t think of anything worse than that. I’m here for the long haul. If I’m going to be out here away from home, pretty much outside anyway? I want to be in the game playing the game. I’m here for the long game.”
Libby Vincek (Social Media Strategist, Malolo Tribe): “It would kill me. I would be so angry. I can’t even imagine. It would be pretty hard. We’ve been preparing for this for so long, and then all of the sudden you’re eliminated or voted off and it’s like, what did I do all of this for? But all of this is a process, too. You have to take it for what it was. They’ve made this an experience so far. And you have to appreciate the game. You have to appreciate the players who said, ‘You are not good enough.’ You have to accept that! You should have worked harder! If it’s me, I’ll think, ‘What in the world did you do wrong?’ You’ll have to learn to accept that. You have to accept what you did wrong, and go, ‘Libby — you sucked.'”
Michael Yerger (Real Estate Agent, Malolo Tribe): “That would really be hard. Every day, or every few hours, I pinch myself: ‘Holy shit, I’m really here. I’m really playing the game.’ It’s something I’m sure everyone has dreamed of for a very long time. The fact that we could be here and have our dreams cut so short? It would suck. But I’m still just thrilled to even have this experience thus far.”
Morgan Ricke (Marine Animal Trainer, Naviti Tribe): “It would be awful. I don’t even want to think about it. Just think positive thoughts. No one wants to be the first person voted out. If I’m on the chopping block, I will do whatever I need to do. Hopefully I won’t be the person who throws all the rice in the fire, but I’m not saying I won’t be. I’m not above it! No one wants to go home first. You come out here and you’re thinking about playing this game — for me, for 18 years. How devastating would it be? I just hope my team wins the first challenge.”
Sebastian Noel (Fishing Guide, Naviti Tribe): “Last night, I had a dream and I woke up to it, and I was like, ‘Holy shit. This is what I’m supposed to do in life.’ There’s a reason I’m here. There’s a reason why they came to Port Canaveral where I work. Of all the places in Florida, why would you choose Port Canaveral? It’s just a little fishing village and town. But there’s a reason I’m here. I won’t go home the first day. It would be terrible. Even though Ponderosa is nice, and that’s probably where we’re going afterwards… there’s just no way I’m going home the first day.”
Stephanie Gonzalez (Graphic Sales, Malolo Tribe): “My heart goes out to that person. But everything’s a learning experience. Going out first, it’s going to teach you what you did wrong. Self-reflective, a little bit. Maybe it was luck? Who knows. You just don’t know on Survivor. That’s why you have to pay optimal attention at all times, just to make sure you’re not the one who goes out first. If it’s me? I would be so disappointed in myself, beyond measure. I would feel like I’ve let down a lot of Latino people. I don’t want to do that. My family, and the sacrifices I’m making… I’m missing my mom’s big wedding for this. She’s renewing her vows and she’s hosting her big dream wedding on the beach. It’s all in Puerto Rico, which is home for me, and I’m missing that to be here. That check has to be mine. There’s so much I need to do with that money. Losing is not an option. I need it more than ever.”
Stephanie Johnson (Yoga Instructor, Malolo Tribe): “It would be devastating. I’m not going to lie. I have an element going in, though. I have gratitude that I’m able to play. I do have my sights on Day 39, but the one thought I have going into this is that my mom believes I’m going to win this. Everybody at home believes I’m going to win this. I don’t have to come into this believing anymore. They can do the believing for me, and I can focus on the day-to-day process. I can focus on the work, because I’m not caught up in that. I think it takes a huge burden off, when you can let go and just play. I know what to do. I know what needs to be done. It’s race day. I’m here to race. Instead of a medal and a free slice of pizza at the end, I’m going to get a million fucking dollars.”
Wendell Holland (Furniture Company Owner, Naviti Tribe): “It would be heartbreaking, man. If I’m the first to go out? That’s when I start flipping tables.”
First One Out: Ghost Zero – Chapter 1: An Overview of Ghost Island