Jeff Probst Dishes On Dan Spilo’s Inappropriate Touching Controversy On ‘Survivor’

Jeff Probst has seen more than his fair share of troubling contestants on Survivor. Fans and Probst alike have run the gamut from sexism, to racism, to downright unpredictable behavior. In fact, Probst has noted one castaway in particular as being historically “combustible.” However, there’s a new example of bizarre behavior lurking on set during Season 39, and it comes in the form of Dan Spilo. 

Spilo, who has been called out for behavior that made some contestants uncomfortable, had to deal with the repercussions of that behavior during a recent episode. However, there’s another aspect to the story — two contestants exacerbated their discomfort in order to put a target on Spilo’s back. Now, Probst is opening up about the whole situation. Warning: spoilers ahead for Survivor Season 39. 

Dan Spilo causes discomfort 

Dan Spilo stood out right away on Survivor: Island of the Idols. The celebrity rep was seen around camp buddying up with the women, offering massages and cozying up in ways that made certain contestants uncomfortable. On a personal note, I felt uncomfortable as a viewer watching some of his behavior. 

Kellee Kim, one of the castaways this season, made it clear to Spilo that she didn’t appreciate his physical intimacy with her, and asked him to step back. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of the situation.

When the tribes merged this Wednesday, Kellee Kim discussed her experience with Missy Byrd. Byrd seemed to agree with Kim, which motivated Kim to discuss the scenario to the camera. 

“This isn’t just one person. It’s a pattern. It takes five people to be like, ‘Man, the way I’m feeling about this is actually real. It’s not in my head. I’m not overreacting to it.’ He’s literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks,” Kim told cameras. Her comments concerned Survivor producers, who decided to take action.

Dan Spilo receives a talking to 

A Survivor producer off-camera told Kim, they weren’t happy to hear about players feeling uncomfortable. 

“If there are issues to the point where things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops. Because I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable…It’s not OK,” the producer told Kim.

The producers gave Dan Spilo an official warning for his behavior. Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly, “To her credit, Kellee stated that she felt the issue could be handled by the players involved and did not want us to take any action on her behalf. And as you saw in her earlier conversation with Missy, both women were very clear that they were not going to let one person “blow up their game.” But based on Kellee’s interview, the producer immediately shared the story with me and I immediately contacted CBS. The decision was made to meet with all players, both as a group and individually, to remind them of personal boundaries and hear of any concerns.”

Afterward, Missy Byrd discovered that Kellee Kim was gunning for her, and decided to shift the focus by exacerbating her own claims against Spilo. 

“In the case of Missy, she was very clear when talking with Kellee that she was not going to let Dan “blow up her game” with $1 million on the line. And Missy was not privy to Kellee’s private confessional where she shared how upset she was about Dan. Then, to complicate things, Missy learns that Kellee is actually conspiring against her, to vote her out. This changes everything. Missy has a new archenemy, and voting out Kellee becomes the mission,” explained Jeff Probst.

What does Probst think of Kellee Kim’s feelings

Jeff Probst
Jeff Probst | Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images

Jeff Probst explained that when it came to Kellee Kim’s assessment of and reaction to the situation, she did the right thing. 

“I am incredibly proud of Kellee for being willing to speak up. In episode 1, she was very courageous in speaking her truth even though she knew it might mess up her game. And initially, I thought Kellee was very generous with Dan in trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. And, as you noted, despite being upset with Dan, she was clear enough in her thought process to not let Dan interfere with the bigger move that she felt was more important to her game — taking out Missy, her biggest adversary,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly.

“Kellee has all the qualities of a great Survivor player: She has a strong voice, the presence of mind to know when to use it, she’s a strategic thinker, and she walked into Tribal Council with not one, but two hidden immunity idols! Only a few people have ever had two idols at one Tribal. Yes, she was also voted out with two idols, but there is no denying Kellee is a very savvy Survivor player and hopefully someone that would consider playing again,” Probst concluded.