‘Survivor’ Champ Earl Cole Explains Why They Didn’t Have a Loved Ones Visit in Season 14

In Survivor 40: Winners at War, host Jeff Probst surprised the contestants, and viewers, by flying their entire families out for the loved ones’ visit. While he didn’t return, Survivor: Fiji champ Earl Cole has been watching the season. He recently joined Rob Has a Podcast and admitted seeing his family on the island “would be a dream,” as they didn’t get any love from home when he played.

Earl Cole
Earl Cole | Jim Spellman

Earl Cole won ‘Survivor: Fiji’

In 2007, then 36-year-old California-based ad executive Earl Cole competed on Survivor: Fiji (Season 14). Early in the game, he built an unlikely close alliance with tribemate Yau-Man Chan.

After losing the second immunity challenge, the winning tribe sent Earl to Exile Island, where he found a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol and shared it with Yau-Man.

The two found more clues and agreed they would find and use it together. The allies swapped to another tribe with each other, and Earl invited Michelle Yi and Cassandra Franklin into their alliance.

While the California-native distracted the tribe, Yau-Man found the idol and shared it with Earl, as promised. After the merge, Dreamz Herd, a member of the rival Four Horsemen alliance, revealed his ally Alex Angarita had an idol.

With this information, Earl and his group targeted Four Horseman Edgardo Rivera instead, eliminating him while flushing Alex’s idol. Later, Earl found the rehidden advantage. He then made it to the Final Tribal Council after voting out his longtime ally when Dreamz reneged on a deal to give Yau-Man his immunity necklace.

While many jury members blasted Earl for betraying Yau-Man, they believed he played better than Dreamz, who betrayed several allies, and Cassandra, who many perceived as a “goat,” and unanimously awarded him the win.

Earl Cole did not return for ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’

When Survivor 40: Winners at War premiered, several long-standing fans wondered why Earl didn’t return as many consider him their favorite player and would want to see him compete again.

He rejected the offer because he and his wife recently welcomed a baby into the world three months prematurely. After giving birth on January 17, 2019, the couple were able to bring their second child home on April 30, only a couple of weeks before Survivor 40: Winners at War began filming.

In an April 2020 conversation with Rob Has a Podcast, the first unanimous winner also explained that filming in May doesn’t work out for his schedule as they used to shoot in October.

Therefore, he doesn’t know if he will return. Even though he missed out on competing against all former champs, Earl is currently watching the season and thoroughly enjoys new advantages and fire tokens that weren’t available when he played.

He also noted Michele Fitzgerald as one of his “sleepers” to make it to the end because she’s playing a good game, and no one is targeting her. However, Earl doesn’t think she’ll win because she doesn’t have children, and he believes the jury will give the money to a contestant with kids.

Instead, he thinks Tony Vlachos might take it home because he has a great position in the tribe and learned from his past mistakes.

Earl Cole explains why they didn’t have a loved ones visit

Host Rob Cesternino and Earl also talked about the recent loved ones’ visit, and the California-native admitted he felt “robbed” because they didn’t receive love from home in their season.

According to Earl, the producers informed the six of them remaining on the island that they would not get a loved ones’ visit due to a military coup happening in Fiji at the time.

The eventual Sole Survivor looked forward to seeing his mother because she hadn’t left the country before. Since then, his mother has passed away, and it upsets him that “he couldn’t give her that” as he offered to take her around the world, but she only wanted to see her mom instead.

If he returned for this season, Earl admitted seeing his entire family there “would be a dream,” possibly “throwing his game off.” Survivor 40: Winners at War airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.