It’s not the first time the hit CBS competition series has invited some of its all-star players to play television’s hardest game. But there’s favorite player fans won’t see in the mix: “Boston Rob” Mariano.
The father of four, who is married to fellow Survivor alum Amber Brkich, has competed four separate times — including 2011’s Survivor: Redemption Island, which he won. But that’s likely the last time Mariano will be throwing on his buff.
“He was not asked,” host Jeff Probst told PEOPLE Now. “Mostly because I’m pretty sure I know the answer — he wouldn’t want to do it. I think there are certain people, like [Survivor: Caramoan winner John Cochran] doesn’t want to play again. And especially once you won, it’s very tough.”
It may be tough to come back to Survivor after winning, but it’s not impossible. Just ask Sandra Diaz-Twine, who won both seasons she appeared on — 2003’s Survivor: Pearl Islands and 2009’s Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains — making her the show’s only two-time winner.
And she’ll be back this season for a rare third time up at bat.
“When we asked Sandra to play … she missed the call but wrote back and said, ‘Whatever it is, the answer is yes,’ ” explained Probst, 55. “And I saw that and said, ‘That is really amazing.’ She’s won twice, there’s nothing to be gained for her except to now finally lose — unless she can do it again. And she has enough to say, ‘Yeah, I can do it again. I’m coming back.’ I have major respect for that.”
RELATED VIDEO: Jeff Probst on Survivor Contestant Debbie’s Playboy Comment About Andrea Boehlke
Joining Diaz-Twine will be PEOPLE Now host Andrea Boehlke, who is back for a third try at the win. She was last blindsided on Survivor: Caramoan — leaving the game with an unused immunity necklace in her pocket. (Don’t worry, Probst said the immunity power does transfer into her real life, so not all is lost).
Boehlke’s going into the show with at least one rival: Debbie Wanner, who told Entertainment Weekly‘s Dalton Ross that she would vote Boehlke off first “because this is Survivor and not a Playboy shoot.”
“That’s not even you!” Probst proclaim in Boehlke’s defense. “There’s people that have been on our show that I could go, ‘Okay’ — but you don’t even come across that way!”
According to Boehlke, the misconception came when Wanner sized up Boehlke’s makeup bag she was using for interviews before the show began.
“She said I had a makeup back which is the size of her suitcase, which is not true!” Boehlke joked in her defense, pulling out the actual bag she used. “This is the makeup bag I had, and it is not the size of a suitcase!”
Tune in to PEN Fan Forum: Survivor with Andrea Boehlke live every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.
It’s reasons like that that prevent Probst to ever wanting to play Survivor himself.
“I would love to play it, but I don’t know if I could handle it,” he said. “When I see you guys on day 20 and you’re dragging — and you don’t even know how much you’re dragging. And I can see it because I’m still fresh. So every day I’m the same and I see you guys and think, ‘How do you do it?’ I know how little you’re living on. I know how hard it rained last night — I was up all night worrying about you guys, but I was covered.”
Added Probst, “I don’t know how I would do, and I don’t know how I could keep my mouth from getting in trouble.”
Survivor: Game Changes premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.