'Survivor: Redemption Island' Contestant Ralph Kiser Dies at Age 56

The reality contestant died on Wednesday morning after suffering a heart attack

Ralph Kiser
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty

Ralph Kiser, a contestant on the 22nd season of Survivor died on Wednesday morning after suffering a heart attack, PEOPLE has confirmed. He was 56.

Kiser, a farmer from Lebanon, Virginia, applied for Survivor several times before finally appearing on the show's Redemption Island season in 2010. "I've wanted to be on the show for years and knew one day I'd get my chance," he wrote in his official CBS biography at the time. "I want to be a hometown hero for the folks back home!"

An avid outdoorsman, Kiser, then 44, went into the game confident that he would win. "I'm a mountain man," he said. "I know plants, trees and what most of their uses are. I can also build anything; start a fire anywhere and make people believe anything I say I will be the king at camp because I can build shelter, cook, find food and be the leader."

The game initially went well for Kiser, who found himself in a dominant six-person alliance that controlled his tribe during the early part of the game. But when they reached the infamous merge, Kiser's tribe was outnumbered and they were easily picked off by an opposing tribe led by Survivor legend Boston Rob Mariano.

Kiser ended the game in eighth place — but told PEOPLE during his exit interview that he had no regrets.

"It was the time of my life," he said. "It was a dream come true for a man like me to be in Nicaragua and playing a game to be on television. What does that happen to anyone? Never, that's when. I'd do it again over and over."

Following the news of his death, popular Suvirvor podcast host Mike Bloom paid tribute to Kiser.

"It's tough to dim the lights on #Survivor day, but it seems that the alumni family has lost another member today: Ralph Kiser from Redemption Island. R.I.P. to one of the few lights in a very dark season, who provided 33 days of accidental idol finding, rooster crowing & more❤️."

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