**Contains information about how the Island of Idols will work, the roles of Sandra and Rob, and Survivor players’ backgrounds and plans, but no spoilers or rumors about who wins challenges, gets voted out or lasts long in the game**

This is a synopsis of the information I found in articles, podcasts, Instagram posts, previews, etc. It’s long, but it will take you many hours less time to read than it took me to find. 😊

My opinions will be italicized in blue, everything else is either from the author of the articles, the podcaster or the Survivor player themselves.

Island of Idols

survivor-idols.jpgThe first visitor to the Island of Idols (IOI) will be from the first losing tribe. However, Jeff made it clear that is not always how the visitor is chosen. They want to mix it up and keep the players guessing. The first visitor will be taught to make fire by Rob. After teaching them, Rob will challenge them to beat him in a fire making contest. If they win, they get an immunity idol good for one or two tribal councils. If they lose, they lose their vote at the first tribal council. The player gets to decide if they want to accept the challenge. Also, Rob and Sandra are given the power to negotiate with them. For example, Rob could give the player a head start, etc.

Rob and Sandra will be teaching them different types of skills – puzzle solving, survival skills, competition skills, strategy skills, etc. Examples of types of skills included catching fish, lying and solving puzzles. Not all of the challenges will be one-on-one against Rob or Sandra. For example, one of the challenges will require the player to negotiate their way into being the puzzle solver during an immunity challenge, and then to successfully solve the puzzle. They also said that the player might not always know when the challenge has begun. Finally, not all of the rewards from completing the IOI challenge will be advantages in the game. They might also be camp life rewards (e.g., chickens). They did not give examples of other disadvantages for losing the challenge.

Fun Fact – The two gigantic heads of Boston Rob and Sandra are made out of wood and sheet metal and were created by Game of Thrones talent.


rob-and-sandra.jpgA lot of crossover Survivor/Big Brother fans seem to fear that Boston Rob and Sandra will eventually join the game as players, similar to how the Big Brother coaches joined the game in season 14. According to Josh Wigler and Mike Bloom, it was made clear by the mentors and Jeff Probst that this won’t happen.

Rob and Sandra will be building their own camp and living on the IOI. They are the “idols”.

I liked it that Rob seemed uncomfortable with the title of “Idol”, while Sandra embraced it wholeheartedly! Like many Survivor fans, I’m really excited to see Rob returning, but I also hope the IOI and mentors don’t take up too much of the episodes.

Player Information

As previously shared, the castaways are dropped off on their islands without seeing Jeff. They are initially very confused and speculate whether or not the game has actually started. According to Mike Bloom and Josh Wigler, it’s a great, diverse group of players. They said they are interesting, with many Survivor superfans and storytellers. Jeff Probst told Josh and Mike that casting philosophy changed a few years ago from a person’s job to their story (how did you get where you are, where are you now and where are you going). Josh and Mike both mentioned that this is one of the most physically adept casts ever and they all have very unique and interesting stories.

I was pleasantly surprised by the interviews that many of the players are big Survivor fans. They all seem very eager to play the game. It’s refreshing after watching a season of Big Brother where most of the houseguests are more concerned about how they will profit from being on Big Brother after the season and didn’t seem to understand how Big Brother was played or how the live feeds worked.

It was also interesting how many of these players have been trying to get on for years and how many of them were alternates on prior seasons.

For the most part, they are all very likable (so far) and it’s hard to rank them. I did my best to rank my favorites to least favorites by tribe (BTW - this is not how I think they will do in the game. I mentioned that separately and will add to it throughout the season.). And, this is very likely to change drastically after the first episode! lol


Lairo Tribe

lairo.jpgJosh and Mike had the chance to visit the two tribes not long after the game started. They weren’t allowed to interact with the players, speak or show reactions at all. They both cracked up regarding the Lairo tribe. Josh said he had to pull his Survivor buff up to cover his face and hide that he was trying not to laugh. The Lairo tribe was laying around and “slowly losing their minds” because they hadn’t seen Jeff and didn’t know what was going on. Josh also said they were very funny and acting up for the audience of press who was observing.

Fun Fact – Lairo’s tribe color is orange. Josh mentioned that it’s an unlucky color. Foreshadowing? 😉




1. Missy Byrd - 24 years old

missy.jpgJosh and Mike said it will be impossible not to cheer for Missy once we hear her story (I agree!). Jeff said Missy is a threat to win the game. Missy got on Survivor the first time she applied. She describes her upbringing as “decently poor”. She went to the Air Force academy and played basketball. While in college, her father died and she developed a brain tumor. The brain tumor caused her to have physical problems (her body thought she was pregnant) and she was not able to process things emotionally. She was getting ready to go to the French Air Force academy (École de l'air), when her medical condition became too extreme. She was close to graduation and becoming an officer, when she was transferred to the same base as Sandra in Seattle (she didn’t mention meeting Sandra, though). It took 8-9 months for doctors to find the tumor and for her to get treatment (it was not cancer). She is a huge Survivor fan and has seen every episode at least 3 times. However, she didn’t have cable or a TV when she was growing up and found Survivor when she was in college. She wants to rely mostly on her social game and doesn’t want to be become a big threat by showing her physicality in comps.

Josh and Mike were right – I can’t help but cheer for Missy! She has a great story to tell, but she is also a great speaker and very open. She used the adjective “dope” many times and it made me chuckle every time. I’m curious to see how often we hear it per episode? (New drinking game? lol) She is very athletic and should be a huge benefit at competitions, but she also comes across as calm and intelligent. I can see her going far! Her pet peeves is annoying people and I’m curious to see who bugs her first (My guesses are Ronnie and Karishma, but that could be because they both bugged me. lol).

2. Elaine Stott - 41 years old

elaine.jpgJosh and Mike both loved Elaine and described her as a funny, firecracker factory worker from Kentucky. Jeff said she will be an early favorite. Here fellow tribemates say she should be a standup comedian. Elaine’s strategy is to be everyone’s sidekick. She said she wants to find her Ricky Bobby and do a shake and bake deal (all attention on her ally, and she takes the win). The producers called her a “Lauren Reimer type”. Elaine described herself as a rule breaker and said when told not to do it, she wants to! She is from the same town as Nick Wilson (S38 winner) and knows him slightly, but is from the “other side of the tracks”. She said she lives in a dry county and was arrested for public intoxication. She told a story about stealing a newspaper stand and getting caught. She said she had a rough childhood and went to the school of hard knocks. She called herself a hellion and went to live in Kentucky with her grandfather because of it when she was a teenager. In college she was into judo and softball. She is only 5’2” and says she is competitive and has an athletic background, but not recently. She tried out for Survivor in her 20s, 30s and now 40s. She quit her job to be on this season. She said she wants the soul searching and life changing parts of Survivor to help build her up as much as the money. She lost 20lbs before going on Survivor and went to crossfit to get in better shape. Elaine said that if she played with Cirie (or someone like her), she would take her to the end so that Cirie would win. But, she’d run Russell over with a bus (lol).

I think I offended some readers (at least one) by saying Elaine wasn’t “fit” in my last article and I apologize. What I should have said was athletic. I was not going by appearance, but by the description of her activities, etc.

Elaine is extremely likable! She is very funny, genuine and quirky. She has also seems to be a hard worker. I can see her making connections with people and lasting longer than weaker or more annoying people. At least I hope so! I’d like to hear more of her story. Her and Missy are actually tied for my #1 for this tribe, but I put her at #2 just because of Missy's prior military experience (yes, I am a little biased! lol).

3. Chelsea Walker - 27 years old

chelsea.jpgChelsea is a Survivor superfan and Jeff said she has been in the mix to get on the show longer than any of the others there and was in the finals for 3 other seasons. (I think he must mean people who were seriously considered, because Chelsea has only been applying since she turned 21 and others have been applying over a longer period of time). She was also an alternate for Big Brother one year. She is a huge fan of RHAP and Josh Wigler and cried from excitement and happiness to be there. She told a very funny story about buying Jeff a drink at a restaurant and having it sent to his table (she had met him before at finals). She said she works very hard to get what she wants. She told another interesting story about how she got a job as an intern to move out to LA and she enrolled at community college to get the job, then quit as soon as she got the job. She prepared a lot before coming on Survivor and had 4 gym memberships. She also said that she is reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, but is hiding it in a Bible sleeve in Ponderosa so the other players don’t see it. She has also been carrying around a Harry Potter book, but isn’t reading it. She wants to start with a low profile and stay in the middle of the pack. She really wants to find an idol, but not tell anyone. She said she doesn’t want to be a Jacob (Ghost Island) and come in with guns blazing.

I really like Chelsea! She seems very persistent, funny and outgoing. She also works for IMDB, which is one of my favorite web sites. lol On top of being a Survivor superfan, she is also a University of Maryland graduate (like my stepdaughter). I hope she doesn’t play too hard too fast due to her enthusiasm for being there! I don’t see her going early (unless she does play too hard) since she is athletic, competitive and outgoing. She shouldn’t be a big target or the weakest player.

4. Vince Moua - 27 years old

vince.jpgJeff thinks Vince has an advantage over some other players because of what he’s been through and won’t let others throw him off his game. Josh said Vince has a great story. Vince grew up gay in a very traditional Vietnamese community and there are two very different sides to his personality. Josh said that other players said they didn’t have a good read on Vince from observing him in Ponderosa because he doesn’t speak to the handlers or give off nonverbal clues. Vince is a huge Josh Wigler fan, RHAP fan and Survivor superfan. He said it is surreal to be there. After going to college at Stanford, Vince lived in South Korea for 5 years as an English teacher and then college counselor. He is Hmong and his parents separately came to America and met here. He’s tried to get on Survivor for years. His parents weren’t completely supportive of him going on Survivor because he’s not out as being gay to his extended family or the Asian community his family is part of. They told him, if you’re going to go on, win! He thinks modern Survivor is about cutting the throats of allies. He appreciates old school Survivor better, creating alliances and being loyal. He wants to play the nice guy, under the radar role, but be the manipulator behind the scenes.

Fun Fact - In the CBS Instagram post about Vince, he is shown searching for an immunity idol.

Vince is very interesting, intelligent and easy to listen to. He is not athletic and realizes he will have to rely on his social and strategic game. I want him to do well, but see that he can be an early target (see Ronnie’s section below). I hope he isn’t and that we get to see Vince for a while.

5. Dean Kowalski - 28 years old

dean.jpgJeff says when he first met Dean he only saw the swagger, but he soon saw that Dean changes himself based on who he’s talking too. Dean wants to play down being a physical threat. Jeff says “it will take a while for people to get used to him, but then we will like him more than we realized we ever could.” Dean is not a “podcast watching superfan”. He describes himself as a well-rounded NYer. He was a high school math teacher and is now a tech salesman and DJ, and is becoming a wedding officiant. He is into basketball and astrology, and participates in a nonprofit organization that spray paints basketball courts in NY. He started watching Survivor in college with friends after seeing Brenda on S26 and the reward challenge for cookies and brownies. He stopped watching Survivor when he was teaching, but went back to watching Survivor when he went to work in sales. His boss liked Survivor and they went to a meeting in NO and met Mamma C (S30). He decided to apply this year. Dean says he will use his salesmanship to outwit. He told a long basketball story for why he will outlast the others (sorry, I couldn’t follow it. lol). He also said he will outplay the others because he is very athletic and good with puzzles.

Dean seems like a lot of fun to be around. He is interesting, funny and very outgoing. As I said previously, I'm really excited to get to know more about Dean. I don’t see him being an early target since he should be an asset in challenges.

6. Aaron Meredith - 36 years old

aaron.jpgJeff's description of Aaron is that he will do well if he can tone it down! Aaron was very anxious to get started during his interview with Josh. He feels like it’s a dream to be there and said it doesn’t seem real yet. He was very worried about how the other players were perceiving him in Ponderosa. He was purposefully trying to give a wide range impression by playing sudoku, reading fiction and nonfiction. He said there are many layers to Aaron (like an ogre! lol). He described himself as emotional, passionate, stubborn, and competitive. He was an electrical engineer and quit to be a gym owner and personal trainer. At one point in his life he owned a kettle corn stand and drove from Pensacola to Maine over the summer with a traveling fair. He is married with a 5 year old son. His son doesn’t want anyone to laugh at him or make fun of him. Aaron said he is willing to do what he has to do to win. He doesn’t want to be the villain or hero, but will do it if he needs to win. He doesn’t care how he’s depicted (this surprises me, since he’s so worried about how he’s perceived in Ponderosa). He did say he won’t be disrespectful to anyone and used Varner outing Zeke as the example. Aaron has tried getting on Survivor since he was 23 years old. In addition to owning a gym, he has a party boat business (May – October) in RI. He said his son’s favorite player would be Molly because his son has a “type”, but Aaron wouldn’t have a problem evicting Molly if it comes to that.

Aaron is very social and extremely talkative! Since he is strong and athletic, they will probably keep him around to stay strong, unless he proves to be really annoying. He seems very likable and concerned with being liked by the rest of them, so I don’t see that happening.

7. Tom Laidlaw - 60 years old

tom.jpgTom is the first former NHL player and the first Canadian. (I mistyped NFL instead of NHL in my prior article. I apologize!). Josh described Tom as very built and cut, intimidating when he’s not speaking, easy to talk to and patient. Tom is also a podcaster (https://truegritlife.com/podcast/) and motivational speaker. Tom said he is used to being a team player and is humble. He was drafted by the Rangers after high school (1979-1991) and was an NHL agent after playing. He was recruited to play on Survivor through the Rangers. He said he watched some of the early seasons years ago and watched season 25 to prepare. Tom said he is used to competing and won’t take the game personally or worry about game moves being taken as personal. He is excited about the mental challenge of Survivor.

I enjoyed listening to Tom talk. He is interesting and could have a lot to offer the tribe physically and mentally. He is athletic and shouldn’t be considered to be a weak player. I hope his age doesn’t make him an easy early target. In his CBS bio, the words he chose to describe himself were stubborn, disciplined and dedicated. That can work for or against him in the game. Regardless, I look forward to seeing how he gets past the difficulty of being the oldest player.

8. Elizabeth Beisel - 26 years old

elizabeth.jpgElizabeth is an Olympic swimmer and medalist. Josh described her as loud, boisterous, and vocal. She said that she lost her identity after leaving swimming and wants to find her new self through Survivor. She describes herself as competitive and she really wants to win. She was a Survivor fan as a child. She is from RI and said everyone in RI watched S1 due to Richard Hatch being from there. Elizabeth did not apply and was approached by casting. She says that she is not a schemer and wants to avoid it. Unlike most of the others, she wants to be a challenge beast. She says that she is a physical player and wants to go toe to toe with the men. She would like a female alliance, but would work with anyone. She said her game plan is to be more physical and social and less cutthroat and strategic.

I am never a fan of players who want to make gender-based alliances before they even start the game. I do think Elizabeth will be a great help to her tribe in physical challenges. If she focuses on getting along with everyone and helping her tribe win challenges, she should get pretty far.

9. Karishma Patel - 37 years old

karishma.jpgJeff says she will be extremely relatable to a lot of women. Karishma said she has been a huge Survivor fan since S17. She went back and watched past seasons afterwards. She is out her for herself and to do something that she has wanted to do for a long time. She is a fan of RHAP and Josh Wigler. Karishma wants to be under the radar at first. She said she doesn’t have support from family or friends to be there, but it was the easiest decision she made to do it. She is on a leave of absence from work as a personal injury lawyer and she could lose her job if they find a replacement. She is at a crossroad in her life (married, no kids) and wants to reevaluate her life. She didn’t decide to be lawyer – her parents told her she would be one. She is first generation Indian American. She said she wants to be nonthreatening and not bring who she is in her real life to the game. In her real life, she loves attention and wears her emotions on her sleeve. She describes herself as intelligent, sharp and intuitive, but doesn’t want to show it. She wants to come off as disarming and focus on the social game. She said she over thinks things and is too skeptical to trust people. She has a big heart, but will have no trouble lying.

There’s just something about Karishma that rubs me the wrong way. I liked her more in her interview, but I don’t see her as being “relatable” to me as Jeff predicted. I can see her being an easy early vote because she is not athletic. On the other hand, she could end up being in Elizabeth’s all woman’s alliance and getting rid of the guys. 😉

10. Ronnie Bardah - 36 yrs old

Josh and Mike described Ronnie as really funny and “youtube famous” for playing poker with former Ms. Finland and her beating him (https://youtu.be/qFPxLbSI_F0). Ronnie is a professional poker player from Boston. His family was the only Israeli family in a high crime rate neighborhood growing up. He got a fake idea to go to casinos and play poker when he was in high school and has been a professional poker play since 2003. He travels around the world to play poker. He’s played poker with Jean-Robert Bellande (S15) and became a Survivor fan in S32. This is the first time he applied to be on Survivor. He mentioned that he is the 4th poker player to play on Survivor (Jean-Robert Bellande, Anna Khait and Garrett Adelstein). He feels he is physically and mentally ready to play. He describes himself as a people person and likes to joke around. His biggest problem will be trusting people. He doesn’t have a game plan until he sees what cards are dealt to him. Ronnie compared himself to James Sawyer Ford from Lost and said he is a complex guy. He said he has a good read on people, a good sense of humor, is intelligent, but has a softer side. Rob C. compared him to Domenick Abbate (S36).

My initial reaction from the CBS IG post about Ronnie and his bio was that he liked himself a LOT. Now that I listened to his interview with Josh and read more about him, I like him less. He called Vince an “Asian Zeke” and a "corn puff" and considered him a possible first target. He also said one of the other players looked like "the rock face from Neverending Story". That seems very shallow to me and I hope he presents himself better on the show. That being said, he should be an asset physically to his tribe and will only go early if they find him as annoying as I do. lol


Vokai Tribe

vokai.jpgWhen Josh and Mike visited them, Vokai was hard at work building a shelter. They said all of them were working together well and it had a very different vibe than the other camp.

This tribe was more difficult for me to rank for how much I like them. They are mostly very likable and I can’t wait to see how they work together.






1. Tommy Sheehan - 26 years old

tommy.jpgTommy is a lifelong Survivor superfan and is remarkably excited to play Survivor. He listens to Survivor podcasts and is a Survivor reddit poster. He had a difficult time in Ponderosa because he’s used to talking all the time and couldn’t talk. He mentioned a female player winking at him and then seeing them wink at someone else and wondered what it meant. He talked about overthinking the nonverbal communication between the players and was ready for the game to start. He said his 4th grade students would be angry with him if he was too nice and didn’t blindside someone. He wants to make them proud by playing hard. Tommy described himself as an undiagnosed ADHD kid. He said he can’t sit still. He became a teacher to change students’ lives because of a teacher he had that cared and allowed him to get up and move and changed her teaching style to help him succeed. Ron Clark (S38) is one of his teacher heroes (he’s read his books) and he was happy when his girlfriend told him Ron Clark was on the show. He said he teaches like Ron Clark (build relationships, rigor, high standard and make it fun). He said he only got to watch 4 episodes of S38 before leaving to be on the show and doesn’t know how Ron played, but wants to meet him afterwards. Tommy wants to build from his social game and not be an archetype. He is athletic, but doesn’t want to be labeled like Joe, Ozzy or Malcolm. He wants everyone to feel comfortable and talk to him and wants to spend one on one time with everyone. Tommy said he would like to work with someone in an opposing alliance from both sides. Finally, he wants to play as hard and fast and as strong as he can.

Tommy is my preseason favorite! 😊 He is charming, attractive, intelligent and seems like a wonderful person! He made me laugh when he said he wanted a meat shield. He is probably the ideal meat shield for most of his tribe! He seems to have a strong social and physical game (he is very athletic) and I can see him sticking around for a while. Hopefully he’s in a strong alliance before they start targeting physical threats!

2. Janet Carbin - 59 years old

janet.jpgJeff said Janet was picked to be on the show after 7 seconds of talking to her. She’s a chief lifeguard and a natural leader. Jeff thinks she is comfortable, likable and smart and capable of running the game. Josh said Janet is in spectacular physical condition. Janet explains in her interview that she’s been a lifeguard since 1978. She’s a huge Survivor fan. She applied over several years to be on Survivor. Came close last year, but it didn’t happen. Then she was asked to be on S39. Janet is very confident. She is a mother and grandmother. She said she wants to show everyone that she will be supportive and productive in challenges and isn’t just the “old person” and can hold her own and then some. She doesn’t want to be a leader. She wants to make small pacts with people to move forward.

I really enjoyed Janet’s interview. She is very likable and should have a great social game. As a lifeguard and rower, she will be a physical asset. Unless she’s simply targeted for her age, I don’t see her going first – she isn’t weak and I doubt she will be annoying. Also, she works with a lot of younger people for a living as the chief lifeguard and is used to coming across as a team player vs. bossy. I would love to see her do well!

3. Jamal Shipman - 33 years old

jamal.jpgJeff likes Jamal’s chances in the game. Jeff described him as a great listener and said he will connect with people personally. Josh described Jamal as a big, brawny guy. Jamal is another big fan of Survivor. He first applied for Survivor a couple of years ago and he was in the finals for S35. He was called out of the blue for S39 and brought back in. Jamal is a basketball player. He wants to shy away from being pigeonholed in a role. Jamal said he will adjust to play with whoever he ends up working with. He wants a non-showmance power couple partner (Maybe Tommy?). Jamal compared his game plan to Sandra’s - letting people think he’s going along with their plan, when it’s really his plan.

Jamal is very confident, intelligent and well spoken. He won me over as soon as he said he was a Momma's boy and likes fantasy football! He strikes me as having a strong mental and social game, while not holding his tribe back physically. He seems too likable and not weak enough to be an easy early vote.

4. Dan Spilo - 48 years old

dan.jpgDan is a talent manager in Hollywood and Jeff called him “a force out there”. Dan’s 13 year old son will be his loved ones family visitor and he’s hoping to make it at least to there! That’s the youngest loved one visitor they have had on US Survivor. Dan actually went to Fiji on vacation and slept outside one night while there to see how he liked it because he was thinking about applying. He was originally supposed to be on S37, but got bumped to S38. Then he broke his foot and couldn’t go. He thought his chances were over and was very excited to be asked to come on S39. Dan is more worried about making relationships than he is for making alliances. He doesn’t want to volunteer for anything at first to draw attention to himself as a target or weakness. He said he has to let go of the “boss side”. His biggest fear is the first few tribal council, but he thinks he can win if he gets through those. He’s hoping there are other people that raise their heads to be the easy votes. He is hoping to find someone "exceptional" early on that he can go to the end with. His early game plan is to position himself wherever the biggest group is. He said that, for him, winning is getting to the F3. Survivor is his “Mount Everest”. Dan said he can be unemotional and have no sympathy and he’s worried about coming out and playing too fast.

I like Dan and hope his son gets to visit Fiji for the family visit. You have to be a big fan of Survivor to actually vacation to Fiji to see what it’s like! He isn’t as athletic as some of the other players, but should be able to pull his weight in team challenges and seems like he will have a good social game.

5. Lauren Beck - 29 years old

lauren.jpgJeff said that he thought “Oh my God, you’re going to be on this show.” when he met Lauren. He described her as beautiful inside and out and knows how to play this game. Lauren is a nanny for a family with one 8 year old girl. She is married and a huge Survivor fan. She has been watching since she was 11. She is not athletic or outdoorsy, but excited to play the social game. Josh described her as very bubbly and a positive personality. Lauren loves to connect with and get to know people. She stopped drinking wine and coffee to prepare (and she said she doesn’t stop drinking wine for anything! My type of gal! lol) She also practiced sliding puzzles on her phone and took some survival training and started swimming to prepare to come on. Lauren said she wants to take it day by day and be in the moment. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She described herself as goofy, always smiling and in it to win it. Josh said she’s one of the easiest to talk to out of the 100 or more Survivor players he has interviewed over the years. Lauren said she is willing to vote out her closest ally if necessary and really wants to find an idol. Also, Lauren wants a pot bellied pig if she wins. pot-bellied-pig.jpg(I looked up pot bellied pigs while listening to her. If the are all as cute as this one, I can't blame her for wanting one!)


Lauren comes across as a genuine and lovely person. She is probably the least athletic and least outdoorsy person on her tribe, which could make her an easy first vote. However, she is very happy, bubbly and cute and will probably do well if she gets through the first eviction and starts building bonds.

6. Kellee Kim - 29 years old

kellee.jpgJeff says his first impression of Kellee was that she makes you work for everything. He described her attitude is “I don’t know if I’m interested, convince me.” (Kellee didn’t give a lot away about herself in her interview.) Josh described her as really nice and funny. Unfortunately for her, she started the game with a cold and a bad cough. Kellee is a fairly new fan of Survivor, but went back and watched past seasons. Adam Klein (S33) is a friend of a friend and she started watching during his season and got hooked. She says she’s very judgmental of herself and others. Kellee has a boyfriend. She said she over thinks things when she gets nervous and doesn’t want to come off as too smart.

Kellee comes across as kind and intelligent. She doesn’t give a lot of information away and I’m curious to get to know her on the show. She is athletic and should do well overall. Unless her being sick makes her an easy early vote, I don’t see her being an early target.

7. Jason Linden - 32 years old

jason.jpgJeff thinks that Jason is good at making a story fit the narrative he needs it to fit and that he’ll be a big threat to go deep if he can get through a couple tribal councils and settle in. Jason said he watched Survivor at the beginning and then stopped for a while. He started again during Blood vs. Water and is now a huge “deep dive” fan. He started applying for Survivor in 2015 and submitted videos every 6-9 months after that. He’s a Survivor reddit lurker and a podcast fan. He’s married with a neurotic Jewish mother who is worried he’s out there and a dad who thinks it will be good for him. He describes himself as usually happy go lucky, but said he can also be abrasive and edgy. He said that he doesn’t make a good first impression and he can talk too much and get snappy, especially if he’s tired or hungry. He’s not going to tell people that he’s a lawyer. Jason is used to being his own boss and wants to play the “shut the heck up” strategy at first. He doesn’t want to ramp it up until after the first few tribal councils. He said he wants to start off playing it cool, not talking too much, and not volunteering to do puzzles. He was happy to see that there are bigger people who can be bigger targets than him and that he will be in the middle with weaker targets to get out first. He calls himself “decently” athletic. He hired a survivalist for a day to help him learn basic survival skills. He said he wants to be the consiglieri like Mike White (S37) and have people come to him for things. He’s good at developing personal relationships with people. Jason compares himself to "Stephen Fishbach/Adam Klein/Cochran 2.0/Rob Cesternino".

I like Jason. He seems smart, funny and interesting. However, he also seems like the most likely to play too hard too fast. I hope he takes his own advice and chills out at first! He is pretty athletic and should be able to hold his own in comps. As long as he doesn’t play too hard, he should stick around for a while.

8. Jack Nichting - 23 years old

jack.jpgJeff says Jack is one of those guys he would put on every season - young, energetic and good looking. Jack doesn’t want to be a big physical threat or compared to Joe. He wants to be a “Fabio-type” character who makes everyone happy. He watched Survivor growing up with his family. He didn’t watch in college, but started watching again in grad school. Jack was an alternate on S38 and was actually brought out to Fiji for it. He had to leave college mid-semester to be on S39 (he is working on his master’s degree). He’s a Military brat and moved around a lot. He has been in a 7 year relationship with his girlfriend. Jack already practiced climbing a coconut tree when he got to Fiji. He said he is very comfortable lying to people to win the game and practiced lying to people about where he was going.

Jack is the youngest this season and comes across even younger in his interview. He said he doesn’t want to get a job partially because people keep telling him that he has to. lol  He does seem charismatic, smart and very athletic. He won’t be going out early.

9. Molly Byman - 27 years old

molly.jpgJeff said that Molly is very sharp and can appear easy going. He said she has Survivor white boards at her house and analyzes strategy. Jeff called her a definite threat to win the game. Josh described her as very intelligent and careful. Molly described herself as a long term fan. She went to a casting call in 2018 and didn’t hear back from them. Then she sent in an application and video and heard back from casting. Molly actually found out in December (most players found out in February) that she was going to be on the show because she needed to know early so that she didn’t pay for law school tuition for the spring semester. She took the semester off and prepared for Survivor. She gave up coffee, worked out, skied, spent time with family, etc. to get ready. Prior to law school, she was a middle school teacher. She said she is athletic and has run in marathons and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. She feels she will have a strong enough social, strategic and competitive game to do well. She described herself as very well spoken and analytical, but wants to downplay that. She plans on telling everyone that she’s a teacher (not a law student). Like others, Molly plans to watch and listen before talking too much.

Despite having been a fellow middle school teacher, I don’t like Molly as much as I would like to. I can’t exactly put my finger on it yet and I’m hoping I change my mind once the show starts. She is intelligent and athletic. I respect and love her love for Survivor. Though having a whiteboard to analyze the strategy might indicate that she’s a bit of an over thinker! lol

10. Noura Salman - 36 years old

noura.jpgJeff says Noura is a wildcard with great, infectious energy. He said she opens up with her eyes and talks all the time with her expressions and that she’s either going to be welcomed into her group and fit perfectly, or be the one on the outside. Jeff also said they might not be able to handle her if she doesn’t get out of her own way. Josh said she is VERY talkative and likes to talk about herself and her story/journey. Noura said she is not a huge superfan and has only been watching Survivor for the past 6 seasons. She said that she gets bored easily and will be the first up and the last to go to bed. She is a CPA and likes to be nonstop busy. She said that fitness is her “life”. Noura described herself as analytical, intellectual, athletic and communicative. She has been on and off Match.com for 14 years. Noura said that she wants to shatter the status quo and not follow a script and thinks she’ll bring that to the table since she hasn’t been watching as long as other people. Josh said that other players commented that Noura was eating very particularly, talking to handlers a lot, and maybe being needy (high maintenance?).

Well, my impression from Noura’s bio that she could rub people the wrong way and likes herself a lot was supported by her interview and what the other players are observing in Ponderosa. If Noura continues with this behavior and attitude, she could easily be the first target (especially since this group doesn’t have any weak players). At this point, she and Ronnie are tied as my least favorite.


I know this is REALLY long and I thank you for reading it! I hope the information was helpful to you to get to know the players a bit before the season starts. My opinions could all drastically change after the first episode, but it's fun to have some people to be cheering for right off the bat. Please feel free to share your comments and ideas.