Jeff Probst Explains Survivor's Rule On Stealing A Hidden Immunity Idol

Survivor host Jeff Probst CBS

Jeff Probst recently answered a question that Survivor fans have asked many times over the 38 (!) seasons and counting: What happens if you find an immunity idol and hide it somewhere, and someone else finds it. Can they steal it and use it for themselves? This has been talked about before, but here's the newly confirmed explanation from the host/producer:

Let’s clear this up for fans and future players: When someone finds an idol, it is their idol, regardless of whether they hide it in their personal bag or bury it in the sand. An idol can never be taken from you. So, if another player discovered an idol that had already been found and then ‘hidden’ in the sand, they could not use the idol, nor could they re-hide it or destroy it.

Jeff Probst clarified Survivor's policy to Entertainment Weekly in specific reference to Survivor: Edge of Extinction's Episode 2 idol find by Lauren O'Connell. She found an idol, then buried it in the sand. I was worried the real problem wouldn't be another player finding it, but the tide washing it away -- or just hiding it so well she'd never find it again.

But if she ever does find it again, it will be hers and hers alone. That also goes for any players who go looking through your bag. If they find an idol, that does give them some information to work with -- some "fun strategic options," as Jeff Probst put it -- but they can't steal it and use it for themselves.

Jeff Probst tries to explains Survivor rules every so often, and sometimes has to repeat them as Survivor picks up new viewers over the years. A couple of years ago he explained what would happen if they ever had a final tribal council tie, which actually happened after that point when Wendell Holland won Season 36.

Survivor Season 38 has only aired two episodes as of this point, with Episode 3, "Betrayals Are Going to Get Exposed," airing tonight (Wednesday, March 6). It's still early days in terms of picking the best players, but it's clear the Kama tribe is kicking butt in challenges. That's the tribe with both returnees Joe Anglim and Aubry Bracco. Meanwhile, the beleaguered Manu tribe has been talking about targeting returnee Kelley Wentworth -- but not David Wright.

So far, the first two eliminated players have been from Manu. Reem accepted the offer to stay in the game at the spartan Edge of Extinction beach, but Keith was still mulling it over in melodramatic fashion by the time Episode 2 ended.

Survivor has been going strong since 2000, when it helped to create the reality TV competition genre. It's been a long time since the show had close to 30 million viewers a week, but that's the case for TV in general in this streaming/DVR age. Survivor is still one of the most popular and enduring reality TV series, and Season 38 is holding strong with more than 7 million viewers each Wednesday night.

A few years ago, Jeff Probst was asked when he thought Survivor might come to an end; here's what he said at the time:

I know it sounds corny. I truly believe that true Survivor fans know that we're in this together. So getting to 40? Entirely possible. It looks like forever to get to 40 because just coming up with one theme is a gigantic hurdle. To come up with two, we always feel like we just conquered the beast. But that's the goal.

Now that we're in Season 38, Survivor Season 40 seems like a very attainable goal. Would it mark The End, meaning the show would come to a close in 2020? Why would it need to, when fans who grew up watching the show are now getting the chance to play the game. There are always new twists (sometimes too many, and WAY too many hidden idols these days) and the game keeps being redefined each year. As long as the show stays entertaining and fresh, why not set a new goalpost of Season 50?

Survivor: Edge of Extinction continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, as one of many shows now airing in midseason 2019.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.