‘Survivor’: Jeff Probst Only Casts Contestants He Can Imagine Winning

Jeff Probst is a staple of Survivor. He has hosted the CBS reality competition series since season 1 in 2000 and became a producer in 2003. The network promoted Probst to an executive producer in 2006, meaning that he has a say in Survivor‘s format and who gets cast in the series.

Jeff Probst and Erika Casupanan appear in 'Survivor' Season 41 on CBS. Jeff wears a black button-up shirt, white shorts, and a black, white, and green 'Survivor' hat. Erika wears a red buff around her head, the immunity necklace, a light gray tank top over a blue sports bra, and snakeskin shorts.
Jeff Probst and Erika Casupanan | Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Jeff Probst shares how he picks future ‘Survivor’ castaways

During an interview with TVLine prior to the Survivor Season 41 finale, Jeff Probst explained his thought process while casting for the show.

“Before I vote to put someone on the show, I have to imagine them winning,” the host and executive producer revealed. “If I can’t imagine a scenario in which they could win, I’m probably not going to vote for them to be on the show. That is not the same criteria used by other people who have a say in who goes on the show, just mine.”

Probst continued, “And I’ve seen potential winners blow it in the last few days by making just one mistake and in doing so, they open the door for someone else.”

Of course, not every castaway thrives once they arrive in Fiji. But given the past couple of Survivor winners and contestants, it’s safe to say that Probst’s process is working.

Meet the ‘Survivor’ Season 43 cast

Survivor will introduce a new batch of 18 castaways when season 43 premieres in late September. And based on Probst’s statement, the host can picture each contestant as the Sole Survivor.

The cast includes:

  • Cassidy Clark (26), a designer from Austin, TX
  • Cody Assenmacher (35), an elevator salesperson from Honolulu, HI
  • Dwight Moore (22), a graduate student from Collierville, TN
  • Elie Scott (31), a clinical psychologist from Salt Lake City, UT
  • Geo Bustamante (36), a project manager from Honolulu, HI
  • James Jones (37), an event planner from Philadelphia, PA
  • Jeanine Zheng (24), a UX designer from San Francisco, CA
  • Jesse Lopez (30), a political science Ph.D. student from Durham, NC
  • Justine Brennan (29), a cyber security salesperson from Marina Del Rey, CA
  • Karla Cruz Godoy (28), an educational project manager from Newark, DE
  • Lindsay Carmine (42), a pediatric nurse from Downington, PA
  • Mike Gabler (52), a heart valve specialist from Meridian, ID
  • Morriah Young (28), a teacher from Philadelphia, PA
  • Noelle Lambert (25), a Paralympian from Manchester, NH
  • Nneka Ejere (43), a pharmacist from Weatherford, TX
  • Owen Knight (30), an college admissions director from New Orleans, LA
  • Ryan Medrano (25), a warehouse associate from El Paso, TX
  • Sami Layadi (19), a pet cremator from Las Vegas, NV

Jeff Probst teases the twists in ‘Survivor’ Season 43

The Survivor Season 43 castaways would have been able to watch season 41 before the competition began. But Jeff Probst and the Survivor production team prepared for this outcome.

“When we say this is a new era of the game, we mean it,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly. “We are establishing new markers. So things like small tribes, earn the merge, no food, risk/reward dilemmas, Shot in the Dark, are here to stay. Other specific twists will come and go depending on the season.”

He added, “The next group of players now has a bit of insight into this new version of Survivor. They’re already thinking about when and how to best use a Shot in the Dark, or what they might do if they are presented with a risk/reward scenario? Or how do you keep an advantage a secret with a game design that is so public?”

“We don’t want everything to be a surprise,” Probst concluded. “Instead, we’re building a new foundation of game elements and leaving it to the players to figure out how best to play.”

Survivor Season 43 premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

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