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. 34 – Jan Gentry (Thailand)
With a penchant for alcohol and an affinity for (dead) animals, Jan Gentry was the “batty” old lady of Thailand. While some of her antics got on people’s nerves, her eccentric behavior was goodnatured, which brought a much-needed lightheartedness to what many consider one of the darker seasons of Survivor.
Despite Jan’s fun and off-kilter personality, she ranks low in the Day 38 Club due to her complete lack of agency within the game. As with the majority of the castaways in Thailand, Jan was merely a puppet in the game of the eventual Sole Survivor.
Brian Heidik is considered one of the all-time great Survivor winners, moving through the game so slick and smooth like a guy worthy of his “Iceman” moniker. To him, all of his relationships were just tools to be used to further his “business trip,” and nowhere was that more evident than with Jan.
In one of his more famous monologues, Brian described Jan as his “trump card” and explicitly referred to her as “disposable.” Basically, Jan would do whatever Brian told her to do, and, ultimately, her usefulness expired on Day 38 when Brian deemed it the appropriate time to send her out of the game.
While Brian mostly played Jan’s game for her, that just left more time for the vibrant first-grade teacher to create some standout character moments. While an extremely sweet and good-hearted woman, Jan’s time on Survivor was mostly defined by her kooky shenanigans.
From slaughtered chickens to dead baby bats, she always felt the need to create a memorial for her befallen animal friends, upon which her other tribemates looked on with much skepticism. And her moments of glee, especially when imbibing any alcoholic beverage, were a sight to behold.
Look no further than when, upon receiving tree-mail about the upcoming Survivor auction, the mere thought of eating and drinking was enough to send Jan into hysteric euphoria. Her proclamation of “It’s a gamblin’ thing!” prompted one of the classic Clay Jordan lines, with “No S*** Sherlock,” so for that alone, we should be thankful for Jan’s presence.
Jan stands out as one of the better outlandish older person archetypes Survivor has ever seen, but her status as an utter pawn for Brian’s game was enough to push her down the list. Thankfully, Brian decided to drag her to Day 38, so we can revel in an entire season’s worth of nutty Jan Gentry fun.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.