Jeff Probst on Whether Throwing Challenges Ever Makes Sense

Plus, he reveals his role when it comes to challenges.

Photo: CBS

In the latest On Fire podcast, Survivor host Jeff Probst takes the lead in discussing the fluidity of season 46. He is joined by Survivor 45 winner Dee Valladares and producer Jeff Wolfe, who provide their insights on this season’s gameplay, the latter of which Probst considers the best so far in the New Season. Much of their conversation revolves around challenges, including the debate on whether it’s strategic or detrimental to throw them, how endurance challenges are tested, and the crucial role that Probst, as the host, plays in them. 

Probst starts the discussion by saying he would never tempt the Survivor gods, as “There are so many things about intentionally losing that for me would not sit well. From a competitor’s standpoint but also from a mojo standpoint. It’s hard to win anything, so to voluntarily choose not to win and actually lose… you better be right; otherwise, it’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow when it’s your torch that I’m snuffing.”

To Probst’s point, it’s hard not to remember when, on Survivor: Redemption Island, the Zapatera tribe intentionally lost an immunity challenge to get rid of Russell Hantz, only for them to lose every tribe member from then on. 

Dee disagrees with Probst as she says she would be willing to throw a challenge if the right circumstances were met and in case she had an ace up her sleeve, to which Probst replies that’s how Survivor is played, as it is a game of persuasion, but most importantly, about relationships and trusting who you’re working with. 

Afterward, while the immunity challenge is brought up, Probst clarifies what the pain threshold is when it comes to endurance challenges. “Well, it’s one of the things we examine a lot… it actually comes down not to how bad the pain is but how long can they stay in the challenge before they give out to the pain.”

He goes on to say production relies on the Dream Team members pushing themselves for as long as they can, and based on these results, these challenges are modified to ensure that they last as long as the minimum amount of time they need them to last. 

Lastly, Probst vocalises that he also plays a role in the challenges, as there are times when he talks to the players to keep them focused and awake. He also asks the players if they want him to be quiet so he doesn’t distract them, as they all want the same thing: for players to push themselves beyond what they think their limits are and for the challenges to last as long as possible. Dee gleefully admits that she sometimes tuned Probst out but that there were other times when she felt encouraged by his words. 

Written by

Mariana Loizaga

Mariana is a lawyer and a writer from Mexico City, Mexico. She has a masters degree in International Relations from the University of Surrey. Her hobbies include reading, blogging, and of course watching Survivor. The first season of Survivor she ever saw was Survivor: Philippines and she became so fascinated with the game and its many layers that she went back through the archives and watched every single previous season.

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