See the Emotional Moment Jeff Probst Kicks Out Survivor Contestant for Outing Zeke Smith: 'Just Grab Your Torch'
Survivor fans have been in uproar since watching Jeff Varner out Zeke Smith as transgender on Wednesday night’s episode — and if you missed the shocking moment, you can watch the entire situation unfold from start to finish.
It all went down during the tribal council, when Varner, 50, outed Smith, 29, in an attempt to paint the Brooklyn-based asset manager as “deceitful” and therefore worthy of being voted out.
Knowing that he was on the chopping block, Varner started by pointing out that a “secret alliance” was forming between two contestants: Smith and Ozzy Lusth.
“There is deception going on right here, and you guys are the victims of it,” he said. “Deception on levels, Jeff, that these guys don’t even understand — there’s more.”
Host Jeff Probst asked Varner to explain himself, at which point Varner turned to Smith — in front of the entire group — and demanded: “Why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”
Smith blinked in silence as the rest of the cast exchanged shocked stares.
“What I’m showing is a deception,” started Smith — but the rest of the tribemates quickly fired back.
“That’s personal — you didn’t have to do that!” said Andrea Boehlke, starting to tear up.
“It is so wrong for you to bring that up,” said Tai Trang. “That’s so dirty, Jeff.”
“I’m not using that as anything negative!” insisted Varner. “I’m not knocking him.”
“It has nothing to do with the game!” cried Boehlke. “That’s personal!”
Varner attempted to defend himself, claiming that he argues “for the rights of transgender people every day in the state of North Carolina” and “would never say or do anything to hurt anyone here.”
“Outing somebody — you just outed him!” shouted Trang in outrage. “Nobody has the right to out anybody.”
Smith finally spoke up, quietly admitting that in the two seasons he’s played the game, he’s never told anyone that he is transgender.
“You’re saying that by him not revealing it, that [Zeke] is capable of deception,” said Probst to Varner. “That is a giant leap of logic.”
RELATED VIDEO: Zeke Smith on Jeff Varner Outing Him as Transgender on TV — ‘I Really Struggle With Forgiving Him’
At that point, Varner began to backtrack: “I’m just trying everything that I can,” he said. “And I am so sorry, Zeke. I support you.”
“Jeff, you can’t unring the bell,” said Probst. “You’re saying there is no line: ‘If I’m desperate enough, I will do or say anything.’ ”
“It’s a game for $1 million, and I clearly have made the wrong choice tonight,” responded Varner. “My conscience is in pain. I feel horrible.”
Soon enough, Varner started crying as the gravity of his actions hit him: “I’m shocked,” he said. “I can’t believe that I did that.”
With the entire cast still reeling with emotion, Probst moved onto the next step.
“There’s no question who’s going home tonight,” he said, briefly checking with each tribemate that they felt the same. “It’s Varner.”
“I’m ready to go,” said Varner tearfully.
“We don’t need to vote,” said Probst. “Just grab your torch.”
Varner reached towards Smith for an emotional hug before picking up his torch and walking over to Probst.
“Varner, the tribe has spoken,” said Probst, putting out the flame.
RELATED VIDEO: PENs Survivor Fan Forum Reacts to Zeke Being Outed as Transgender
“I think he hoped others would believe that trans people are dangerous and fraudulent,” he said. “That reasoning is infinitely worse than him outing me because it’s the same one used to discriminate against, attack and murder trans people. What’s great is that nobody bought it.”
“It’s important people see he lost that fight,” he added. “The message should be clear that hate will always lose.”
Varner, meanwhile, took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to issue a lengthy apology.
“I offer my deepest, most heart-felt apologies to Zeke Smith, his friends and life allies, his family and to all those who my mistake hurt and offended,” he wrote. “I recklessly revealed something I mistakenly believed everyone already knew. I was wrong and make no excuses for it. I own responsibility in what is the worst decision of my life.”
Survivor airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.