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Steve Helling
November 01, 2013 04:55 PM

B.B. Andersen, one of the first contestants to compete on Survivor, has died after a battle with brain cancer, PEOPLE confirms. He was 77.

Andersen passed away on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo., according to an obituary posted in the Kansas City Star, which described him as “a lover of fine cigars, fine wine, close friends and good political debate.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, Survivor host Jeff Probst said: “B.B. was one of the original cast members who launched Survivor back in 2000. He was a powerful presence on the show and that zest for epic adventure was at the heart of everything he did. I was very saddened to hear of his passing.”

Adds Richard Hatch, who won the season: “B.B. was a good man with whom I shared a memorable experience. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family.”

In 2000, Andersen and 15 others were selected for the first season of the hit CBS reality show. When he competed, he was 63 – the oldest member of his tribe.

He didn’t gel with the others and was voted out in the second episode. (“I didn’t have the energy to be phony,” he told PEOPLE at the time.)

“After the show, we spent some time doing events together,” says fellow contestant Joel Klug. “He was the man. He enjoyed life. He knew good scotch from bad scotch. He was a mover and shaker type of guy.”

“And he was tough: we were on the equator and it was like 100 degrees. He worked hard to build a shelter. He was an impressive guy, and an influence on me.”

After the show became an international smash, Andersen was deluged with endorsement offers, and he did a series of commercials for Reebok and Home Depot.

He eventually returned to Kansas, where he lived with his wife and five children.

Andersen is the second Survivor contestant to pass away since the show premiered. In 2010, Jennifer Lyon, who placed fourth on Survivor: Palau, died after a six-year battle with breast cancer.

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