Rachel Foulger hadn’t seen a full season of “Survivor” when she first met her boyfriend, Tyson Apostol, five years ago through mutual friends.
“I had never watched the show before at all in my life,” the 33-year-old Provo waitress and graphic designer said. “We met four months before he left for his first season of ‘Survivor.'”
She had heard of and had seen episodes of the CBS series that puts contestants in a primitive yet picturesque area as they try to outwit, outlast and outplay each other to win $1 million and be named that season’s “sole survivor.”
Since then, she's seen several seasons — and now she’s going to be a contestant.
Foulger and two-time “Survivor” alum Apostol are contestants on the show's 27th season, “Survivor: Blood vs. Water,” and will compete against nine other teams with other former players, including two who have won the $1 million prize on their respective seasons, and their loved ones, including siblings, spouses, relatives and significant others. "Survivor" will return to the Philippines’ Caramoan Islands where the last “Fans vs. Favorites” season was.
“It was kind of nerve-racking in the beginning to have been invited. I was definitely nervous and wasn’t sure about it at first,” Foulger said. “But (I’m) really glad we ended up doing it and that we were able to do the show together.”
And having a $1 million prize on the line helped with their decision, too.
“I wanted her to experience what I’ve already experienced,” said Apostol, 34, a former pro cyclist and shop manager who was on “Survivor: Tocantins” in 2009 and “Heroes vs. Villains” in 2010.
“It’s always exciting to get away from the daily doldrums of life and doing something sweet, so why not?” Apostol said.
In “Survivor,” there are physical challenges that determine tribal immunity and the losing team heads to tribal council where they vote someone out. The tribes merge, generally about halfway through the 39-day contest, and then the challenges determine individual immunity. Usually after the tribes merge, the voted-out players comprise a jury that will determine which of the final three will be named “sole survivor” and win the $1 million.
“I get progressively worse each time, so I don’t know if I’ve learned anything,” Apostol said of past seasons.
In 2010, when he was on the villains’ tribe in “Heroes vs. Villains,” he practically caused his own demise during the vote. He was the sixth person voted out.
Both have prepared physically for the challenges by running and swimming and also watching past seasons with the former players.
“Anyone who thinks that you can win ‘Survivor’ with just skill or smarts would be incorrect, because there is a lot of luck involved,” Apostol said. “It’s placing yourself on the right side of luck and being prepared to take advantage.”
Also, Apostol added, “don’t write anybody off until they are voted out of the game.”
Foulger planned to do what she could to get along with all the other players (“not letting that annoying player get to you”) and play up the social aspect of the game.
They both are looking forward to seeing the season air.
“It’s always exciting. I like to play the game,” Apostol said. “For me it’s just fun and entertaining to be out there. Whether or not it’s entertaining on TV, I get my kicks out on the island — for me that’s worth it enough.”
Also in play this season is Redemption Island, where the voted-out players compete for a chance to re-enter game, with a “Survivor”–style twist.
If a castaway’s loved one is voted out, they have the option to switch spots with them on Redemption Island.
Dawn Meehan, a Brigham Young University professor and South Jordan mother of six adopted children, recently tied for second place in “Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites” earlier this year, and it was her second stint on the show. In 2007, Todd Herzog of Pleasant Grove outwitted, outplayed and outlasted the other contestants on "Survivor: China" to take home the million-dollar prize.
The 90-minute season premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” is Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. on CBS.
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