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Survivor 42's Jonathan Young Addresses Criticisms Regarding How He Treated Other Contestants

screenshot of Jonathan Young on Survivor 42
(Image credit: CBS)

He was known colloquially (and perhaps enviously at times) as “Goliath” on Survivor 42 by his competitors. And he almost took the moniker all the way to the bank when he made it to the Final 5 – an impressive feat given that most physical players historically don’t last long post-merge. However, Jonathan Young also came under fire for how he was coming across to some of the others on the show regarding race and gender. Following his fire-challenge elimination, Young later had his own perspective when he addressed those criticisms.

The first major snafu for him was amidst the surprising post-merge double tribal night. Rocksroy Bailey was the first to be voted out, which didn’t sit well with Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch when they saw him sitting on the jury next to another Black player in Chanelle Howard. Wheeler and Oketch believed they might soon follow Bailey (which was indeed the plan at the time), given they were the only remaining Black players themselves in the game. They decided to call out what they viewed as a systemic racial issue in Survivor history (of Black players not making it far). Notably, the "Goliath" got into a tense dispute with the two over it, as he interpreted them to be calling him a “racist,” much to the frustration of Wheeler who eventually broke down in tears.

Ultimately, the situation incited Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch to both play their hidden immunity idols as a means to take a stand on the issue. Tori Meehan then got sent to the jury, and the trouble was largely not discussed in subsequent episodes. In a post-elimination interview with Parade, though, Jonathan Young shared that there isn’t any lingering bad blood between him and his co-stars about what transpired as some fans might believe. He said:

As soon as that Tribal was over, I went and talked to Drea. Drea and I were fine. I call Drea on the phone. I love Drea; Drea loves me. Everything is good between Drea and me. Everything that happens in the game can relate to real-world things. And we actually jumped back in the game pretty quickly. So yeah, everything worked out great.

Yet there was some lingering bad blood initially with viewers in the wake of watching the huge race conversation unfold. Some fans in fact took Jonathan Young’s side and flooded the show’s official Facebook page with accusations that Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch were playing the “race card.” Survivor 41 standout Shan Smith (who famously helped form a Big Brother-esque, all-Black alliance in her time) decided to call out all the “toxic” fans as a result.

Later on in the post-merge segment of Season 42, female contestants like Maryanne Oketch and even Jonathan Young’s previous alliance member, Lindsay Dolashewich, hinted that (in their view) the comp beast didn’t treat women in general with much respect, either, on the show. Which both have since maintained in their own post-game interviews. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old doesn’t necessarily agree with that estimation of his behavior, saying to the outlet:

I hate that she felt that way. I think Lindsay is a great competitor. I think she’s a beast. And I said that so many times in the shows. Every time I got the chance, I’d be like, ‘Lindsay is a beast. She’s tough as nails. And the reason she had to go is because of how good she was.’ So, yeah, I hate that she felt that way.

Jonthan Young eventually became the lone jury member to vote in Mike Turner’s favor on finale night on May 25. Other finalist Romeo Escobar got no votes himself, while Maryanne Oketch raked in the remaining seven votes and the title of Sole Survivor (as well as a boon in her love life it appears). Reflecting back on what’s been said before and after his own tenure, Young added that he might have some regrets after all:

Are there things I would do differently? Absolutely. Do I think that everybody on the show was a great competitor? 100%. But everybody played the game the best that they could.

Survivor 43 – the next season of blindsides, betrayals and possibly more controversies – is expected to come out sometime in the fall, although CBS has yet to officially confirm any dates as of this writing. Fans can tide themselves over with the drama yet to come on its sister show, Big Brother (complete with one alleged major change), which drops Season 24 on July 6th  as part of the ongoing 2022 TV schedule!

Lauren Vanderveen
Lauren Vanderveen

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