Jeff Probst Defends Survivor Players Who Give Up Immunity For Food

Survivor host Jeff Probst immunity challenge necklace CBS

Survivor host Jeff Probst defended choosing "eat" in the recurring "eat or play" game twist -- at least in very specific circumstances.

It seems like every season of Survivor has at least one player confident, foolish, or just desperate enough to give up the chance of immunity for the certainty of food. In Survivor: Edge of Extinction, aka the spring 2019 Season 38, four players took that option in "Blood of a Blindside." The episode ended up a double elimination, but Lauren, Kelley, Victoria and Ron all survived the first tribal council, despite sitting out the urn squat challenge for pizza and beer.

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Survivor players who give up the chance at salvation for food usually get the smh treatment from fans. But Jeff Probst defended the decision from a specific strategic standpoint:

The “eat or play” twist delivers surprises every time and there is always one constant takeaway: hungry people want to eat. There is also one prevailing reason players give for choosing food over immunity: “I don’t think I can win this challenge anyway…” If that is the truth, then sitting out is probably a very wise move. You are calculating the risk of giving up immunity against the slight odds of you winning it in the first place and then contrasting that with the certainty of food. The food gives you a known positive outcome. The lack of immunity is a negative, but it seems quite likely either way, so food wins out.

Jeff Probst told EW that kind of strategizing is one of his favorite parts of Survivor -- weighing risk vs. reward. Obviously having food in your belly helps both your body and your mind, so you don't faint during a challenge -- like Lauren -- or perhaps not make decisions at your sharpest.

On that feed-your-mind note, Jeff Probst shared this analogy:

This may be a far-reaching example, but think about last Tribal Council when everybody lost their minds. Part of that was due to the inability to think clearly due to lack of food. Imagine that Julia, who was completely depleted at that point, had just spent the afternoon devouring pizza. Now she’s back to her normal very bright self with all of her cognitive abilities back in check. So as Julie is causing chaos at one end of tribal, Julia is using her brain to look at options for how to stay clear of the madness and avoid being voted out. Could have been a very different outcome. But instead, she’s exhausted, she’s short-fused and just wants Tribal to be over and makes one or two combative comments that turn the tide toward her, and another great player is out.

The jury segment of Survivor: Edge of Extinction has been crazy, with wild Tribal Council after wild Tribal Council. The one Jeff Probst referenced above had everyone calling audibles and getting up to whisper to each other -- and then openly announcing plans. The vote seemed to change to Julia at the last minute, as Julie made it clear she felt betrayed and was ready to jump ship from Kama. That switched almost everyone's votes to the clearly frustrated Julia.

Last week saw both David Wright and then Kelley Wentworth voted out, so there are no returning players currently left in the game. However, the Edge of Extinction twist means one of the current jury members will be able to return to the game. Will it be David, Kelly, Aubry Bracco, or Joe Anglim? Or will one of the non-former season players get to technically become returning players themselves? Those options are currently Reem, Chris, Eric, and Julia -- since both Keith and Wendy decided to leave, and Rick Devens already won his way back into the game.

I like Rick Devens' position in the game right now, but watch him be the next to go after I write that. Wardog made the big move to oust Kelley, but by doing that he betrayed his Lesu 3 alliance with Lauren, lost her trust, and also put a Big Game Move target on his own back. Seems to me that was a short-term win. If I was on that island, I'd thank Wardog for helping to get out Wentworth (who had an idol in her pocket -- Kelley, what were you thinking?!) and send him right to jury.

When asked to tease tonight's April 24 episode, titled "Fasten Your Seatbelts," Jeff Probst told EW:

Now, it’s starting to get personal.

Personal as in family visit? It seems too early for that. Personal might just mean ... well, personal, with the remaining players getting angry with each other, as teased in the promo:

CBS shared this description for the episode:

Alliances start to crumble; one castaway comes out on top after a crucial immunity win.

Survivor Season 38, Edge of Extinction, continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. There's talk that Season 40, which would probably air this time next year, will be an all-winners season.

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.