Where does Survivor find these people?
No, that’s not a rhetorical question. We really want to know.
When the long-running reality show returns for its 32nd season, Survivor: Kaoh Rong, on Feb. 17, they’ve found a new batch of contestants to compete for the $1 million prize. Survivor‘s strength has always been in its casting, and, by the looks of this crew, they may have done it again.
There’s a bounty hunter from Detroit, a Minnesota ER doctor, a semi-retired NBA player and a female bodybuilder from Georgia. There’s a 19-year-old student and a 72-year-old(!) former FBI agent from Florida.
For the record, only one other septuagenarian has played Survivor. Rudy Boesch was 72 when he played in Survivor: Borneo and 75 when he competed in Survivor: All Stars. He turns 88 on Wednesday and is still going strong.
In a nod to 2014’s exceptional Survivor: Cagayan, the tribes will be split up into the same three categories: Brains, Brawn and Beauty. By all accounts, it’s a brutal season with inclement weather, exhausting challenges and more than one medical emergency.
The season will also feature a new twist: two hidden immunity idols can combine to form one super idol that can be played after the votes are read. (Okay, we’ll reserve judgement on that one until we see it play out.)
Here are the 18 contestants who will try to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast their way to the end.
See the white-haired man in the middle of the above photo? The one with the arms and the abs? He’s 72-year-old Joseph De Campo, a former FBI agent living in Vero Beach, Florida. He describes himself as tenacious, daring and vigilant. Okay, that’s good. Oh, and his pet peeves are “people who whine.” Yes, because no one ever whines on Survivor.
He’s joined by Peter Baggenstos, a 34-year-old Minnesota emergency room doctor of Swiss and Jamaican descent. Baggenstos says he dislikes “bombastic people, bros, and know-it-alls” – again, exactly the type of people who Survivor casts every season.
Aubry Bracco is a 29-year-old Media Marketer from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She points out that her name means “leader of the elves” and mentions that she convinced her advisors at Brown University to let her write a children’s book about a manatee instead of a 50-page thesis. We’re sure that’ll go over well with the 72-year-old FBI agent.
Neal Gottlieb is a 38-year-old “ice cream entrepreneur” from Sausalito, California. He lists one of his hobbies as “one-upmanship.” (He’ll likely get along famously with the doctor who dislikes “know-it-alls.”) He says he’s incorrigible, witty and kind; he also lists “whiny people” as a pet peeve. He also has the longest, most verbose Survivor biography we’ve ever seen.
Elisabeth Markham is a 27-year-old quantitative strategist from New York City. What is a quantitative strategist, you may ask? “I write computer programs that forecast stock prices and trade automatically,” she says. She lists her inspiration as her “badass grandma” and says that her hobby is “gambling for profit.”
Rounding out the Brains tribe is Debbie Donato Wanner, a chemist from Pennsylvania. She lists her pet peeves as “the idolization of garish, repugnant and supercilious people like the Kardashians; pets as fashion accessories; and apathy.” She also knows how to juggle and says she wishes she could bring Chanel No. 5 to the island.
Side note: the Brains tribe just might turn out to be the most entertaining tribe ever in Survivor history.
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Perhaps the most notable contestant on the Brawn tribe is Scot Pollard, a 40-year-old retired basketball star who played 11 seasons in the NBA, including with the 2008 champion Boston Celtics. He describes himself as “driven, fun and loud,” and his pet peeve is “people who are not loyal.” (Welcome to Survivor, Scot.) He’d also bring his NBA championship ring onto the island to remind him of his accomplishments. (We’re thinking that would also make him a target, but what do we know?)
He’s joined by Alecia Holden, a Dallas real estate agent who lists her pet peeve as “people who lie and can’t be straight up.” (Again, we’re playing Survivor, right?) She’s the daughter of a boxing promoter and says that she identifies with Kass McQuillen because “she brought chaos.”
Darnell Hamilton is a 27-year-old Chicago postal worker who dislikes “people who talk too much and habitual liars.” (We’re noticing a disturbing trend with the Brawn tribe.) He describes himself as “confident, rebellious and an anomaly.” If he could bring anything onto the island, he’d choose “sunglasses so I can hide from the ugly contestants; iPod, so I can tune the haters out; pack of cigarettes.”
Kyle Jason, a bounty hunter from Detroit, calls himself loud, blunt and hilarious, and he wishes he could bring hair ties and energy drinks onto the island. He lists his hobbies as “kicking in doors,” which seems like as good a pastime as any. His pet peeves: “dumb people, lazy people, and one-uppers.” (We hope he eventually ends up on a tribe with Neal Gottlieb.)
Jennifer Lanzetti is a 38-year-old contractor from Salt Lake City who survived endometriosis, cancer and drug addiction. She describes herself as a “badass chick” who hates it when people end a sentence with a preposition.
The last Brawn member is Cydney Gillon, a 23-year-old bodybuilder from Douglasville, Georgia. She hates bigots, weak people and closed-minded mentalities.
The most familiar face on the Beauty tribe is Caleb Reynolds, a former contestant on Big Brother. An army veteran, he dislikes texting while driving (which he probably will not encounter on this show) and nose-picking (which he definitely will encounter on this show.) The 28-year-old Kentucky native lists Jesus Christ as his life’s inspiration.
The youngest contestant this season is Julia Sokolowski, a 19-year-old student from Boston. When asked which Survivor contestant she is most like, she picks all the young, pretty contestants but insists that she is “strong, strategic and intelligent, not just some Barbie princess, dumb blonde.” (To be fair, she has taught English to a class of 83 kids in Tanzania, so there’s that.)
Tai Trang is a 51-year-old gardener from San Francisco. He has raised thousands of dollars for AIDS research and calls himself energetic, resourceful and competitive. If he could bring anything to the island, he’d choose coffee, which he calls “my life necessity.” (We feel you, Tai.)
Anna Khait is a 26-year-old pro poker player from Brooklyn, New York. She lists Princess Diana as her life’s inspiration and calls herself a loyal, kindhearted perfectionist.
There’s always a personal trainer on Survivor, and this season it’s Nick Maiorano, 30, from Redondo Beach, California. He hates angry, loud people and describes himself as “obsessive compulsive,” which is a problematic trait to have on a desert island. He also says he’s “receptive and contrarian,” which sound like two completely opposite traits. If he could bring a luxury item, he’d bring alcohol and “a picture of other contestants’ loved ones to negotiate with.” Charming.
Last but certainly not least is Michele Fitzgerald, a 24-year-old bartender from Freehold, New Jersey. She lists Harry Potter as her life’s inspiration, and her pet peeve is “overpriced alcohol.” If she could, she’d bring a Harry Potter book as a luxury item.
Who will win the million dollar prize? Survivor: Kaoh Rong premieres with a special 90-minute episode on Feb. 17!