‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Reveals Why Each Season Is 39 Days Long

Survivor: Island of the Idols will earmark Season 39 of the hit reality television show. And with a cast that Probst calls “lightning,” including a “powerful” group of women, it sounds like it could be one for the history books. With “Boston” Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine there to guide those who earn their advice, things could get exciting, fast. 

But this season isn’t the only “39” in Survivor. Every season, the castaways who want to make it to the end have to aim to survive on the island for thirty-nine days. Jeff Probst explains why. 

What happens on the ‘Island of the Idols’?

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When it comes to Survivor, host and producer Jeff Probst is always chock full of energy and exciting ideas. Season 39 is certainly no exception, with a new twist involving a special opportunity for castaways to learn from the best — the Island of the Idols.

Fans of Survivor will recognize two legendary faces this season — “Boston” Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine. Mariano is famous for his aggressive and strategic play, and Diaz-Twine is the only castaway to ever win Survivor twice.

These two will be living on a beach of their own, with two enormous effigies of themselves. Talk about an ego boost. Castaways who earn the right will have an opportunity to learn from these two winners. 

Rob Mariano told Hollywood Reporter, “The main premise is they’re coming over here. It’s called the Island of the Idols. Think of it like a Survivor boot camp or training camp, where they can come over and they can learn any kind of skill that they need. Any lesson, they can come and learn it over here. We can do anything, you know? We’ve been here over 200 days between the two of us. We can make a fire like that. We can teach them how to fish. We have everything that they would need to learn how to do any skill that it takes to survive out here.” 

Both of these players are well-known for their cutthroat gameplay and cunning social strategy, so castaways who make it to the island have a great learning opportunity. 

A season full of strong contestants 

However, Jeff Probst says Mariano and Diaz-Twine aren’t the only two powerhouses coming to your television this season. The Survivor host says the castaways on Season 39 are unlike any group so far. 

“I love this group in 39. It’s the most diverse cast we’ve ever had. They’re lightning, man. They’re on it,” said Probst.

Probst also opined that this group was, “…the most powerful group of women we’ve ever had.”

He told Entertainment Weekly that there are three major contenders to look out for among the women. These are Molly, Missy, and Lauren. 

Probst said of Molly, “Molly is one of the first people that comes to mind,” says Probst. “Definitely a threat to win. She’s has everything. While studying to go to law school she has two whiteboards in her room and she’s always charting Survivor strategies because she was determined that she was going to get on the show. So this is somebody, it’s the new age player.”

He went on to say that Missy is a big threat, too. “We have this woman Missy, who I think is her own worst enemy in the best way because she’s like 23 going on 50,” says the host. “She’s had so much life experience but she’s still a young person. She’s an athlete. She’s been through a lot. She was in the military and she is another superfan of the game,” explained Probst. 

Of Lauren, Probst said, “There’s a woman, Lauren, who is a nanny who is I think going to surprise a lot of people because she has beautiful radiant energy, and you spend enough time talking to her and you realize, ‘Oh my God, she’s a stone-cold killer in this game.’”

Thirty-nine days for a reason

Probst recently revealed that there’s a reason Survivor films for thirty-nine days. It all has to do with giving the castaways enough time to interact with one another, and fully live out the Survivor experience. 

“Thirty-nine started because of how many episodes we had and how many days we thought we needed to have enough reality to fill an episode,” Probst explained to Entertainment Tonight Canada.

“The basic premise was, you would have a reward challenge on one day in which they would earn something to help them. And then you would have an immunity challenge on another day in which they fought for their survival. And on that third day, they would just live. And the third day, which we would put in the middle, was the day in which things happen,” said Probst.