The last person to leave the game, the person so close to the end they can taste the money but has their opportunity to plead their case taken away at the very last moment. That person becomes ingrained in their respective season as the final recipient of “The Tribe Has Spoken” and earns a place in a very special group in Survivor history: The Day 38 Club.
Inside Survivor contributor Ian Walker continues the countdown of the updated and revised Day 38 Club rankings. The list takes into account the strength of a player’s game, character, and the power of their story.
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No. 18 – Keith Nale (San Juan Del Sur)
He spits. He eats spa food. He sticks to the plan and laughs maniacally about it. When it comes to pure likability and raw hilarity, very few can come close to Keith Nale. A complete fish out of water in every sense of the word, every aspect of Survivor seemed to catch Keith by surprise.
While his son Wesley was the big fan of the show, Keith was just along for the ride in this Blood vs. Water season. It wasn’t long, however, before it became apparent who was the bigger star of the two. Keith won many fans over with his gruff Southern charm and authentic reactions to all of the ridiculous situations the game of Survivor had to offer.
Keith was, strategically speaking, completely out of his depth. He was the guy who recoiled in fear upon discovering a hidden immunity idol, who regularly berated his younger tribe members for not living up to his standards of work ethic, and who actively encouraged expressing bodily functions much to the dismay of others.
The fire captain from Keithville (real place!) was content to do what he wanted and didn’t have much consideration for how that would affect his game. The infamous “stick to the plan” moment was the ultimate example of Keith’s carelessness, a sudden outburst that indirectly caused his son’s elimination that same night.
From that point on, Keith became much more of a follower and a useful tool to Natalie Anderson, who used Keith to eliminate her sworn enemy Jon Misch at the final six. After winning Immunity at the final five, Keith was one challenge away from getting to the finals, but ultimately lost the challenge and got outplayed by Natalie, who convinced the other players to send him packing.
While Keith certainly fits in with the group of likable guys who were one challenge win away from potentially winning the game, like Brett, Matty, and Eddie, Keith ranks above them because none of those guys are as bursting with personality as Mr. Nale. Keith is the best kind of funny on Survivor because all of his hilarious comments are real and authentic to Keith; he doesn’t play to the cameras to get attention, that’s just who he is.
Plus, he’s got secret old man strength and crazy ball skills that make him a serious threat in most challenges. To think, if Wesley never applied for Survivor, then we would have never met Keith; instead, he’d stay in Louisiana, keeping all of his Keithisms to himself.
The fact that Survivor fans from all over voted him into the Second Chance season shows that Keith is a genuinely beloved character (and he was one vote away from becoming the first two-time Day 38 Club member that season!). Keith’s never going to be the guy calling the shots, but he got to Day 38 regardless, mostly by being himself, and as viewers, that’s really all we can ask.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.