Former Survivor Runner-Up Clay Jordan Is Dead At 66

pulled from cbs cast photos survivor thailand
(Image credit: CBS)

It’s been more than two decades since Survivor first premiered on CBS. In that span of time, many contestants have made a name for themselves in the hearts and minds of viewers, even if they didn’t necessarily win the game of “outwit, outplay, outlast.” Such was the case for Clay Jordan in the 2002 season set in Thailand, where he lost the $1 million prize by one vote to noted villain Brian Heidik. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that the former runner-up is dead at age 66.

The news comes from one of Clay Jordan’s children, a daughter named Shanda, who was featured on the loved ones video to her father during Survivor: Thailand. She shared her father's death on May 19 in a heartfelt Facebook post, and how he was now reunited with their late mother, Linda Sue Jordan (who reportedly died earlier this year from COVID-19). She wrote,

Clay Brooks Jordan, my sweetheart of a Dad, went to heaven to meet Jesus and be reunited with his beautiful bride! Andy and I are so heartbroken, but we get comfort from knowing they are together and he is no longer in pain. We love you, Dad! You will forever be my HERO!

The cause of death for the reality star hasn’t been officially released. But according to People, he had been battling a “short illness.” Son Drew told the outlet that his father kept the family together and had a “big heart.”

Survivor: Thailand, where Clay Jordan competed all 39 days, is still available for rewatch (for Paramount+ subscribers). When the season aired back in 2002, there were a number of controversial moments, including alleged racist remarks and a near strangulation of Clay Jordan by another player. 

It was a controversial season to be sure, but no one is ever completely defined by a TV edit for a reality show. Ultimately, Clay Jordan never returned for another shot at becoming Sole Survivor. Instead, he went back to his life as a restaurant owner in Louisana with his family.

His recent death sadly marks the third Survivor contestant’s death in the last year alone. Survivor: Millennial Vs Gen X’s Sunday Burquest lost her battle with cancer last June, prompting both Jeff Probst and her former alliance member Brett Labelle to speak out in remembrance of her. Then in April, Redemption Island star Ralph Kiser died from a heart attack at age 56.

With his own passing, Clay Jordan leaves behind several grandchildren, his daughter and a son. Our thoughts here at CinemaBlend are with the family, friends, and loved ones of the former Survivor competitor in this difficult time. His status as a memorable contestant from the beloved reality show guarantees that he leaves a legacy in pop culture behind.

Lauren Vanderveen
Movies and TV News Writer

Freelance writer. Favs: film history, reality TV, astronomy, French fries.