On Wednesday night, MacMillan House hosted a viewing party for the premiere of “Survivor: Winners at War,” the 40th season of the reality-competition television series. Amongst the attendees was Maine local Bob Crowley, winner of “Survivor: Gabon,” the 17th season of the show.
Organizer of the event Jack Butler ’22, explained the concept of the show in which 20 contestants on a deserted island compete in challenges for a $1 million prize.
“[Each season] inevitably results in betrayals, blind sides, emotional goodbyes and intense strategy,” he said.
As discovering the show rather recently, Butler watched Crowley’s winning season over this past summer. He explained that the show’s appeal lies in the diversity of personalities.
“It’s very much a character-driven season—the people are really funny and interesting,” Butler said. After watching Crowley, a physics teacher from Maine, win the season, Butler wondered if he was still living in the area.
“I saw him and I was like, ‘he probably still lives in Maine’ and I thought it would be cool to get him here.”
After some research, he tracked down Crowley’s sustainable yurt rental business—Maine Forest Yurts—in Durham, Maine. Butler sent a form through the company website asking if Crowley would be willing to come to the College as a guest for the next premiere.
“It worked out perfectly for this season since the cast is composed of all the winners coming back from the biggest seasons they’ve done. Even though Bob is not coming back, it’s still cool to have a winner,” Butler said.
Crowley entertained the audience with stories of his audition process, the competition itself and anecdotes about interacting with other members of the “Survivor” community—relationships that have persisted well beyond his time on the island.
When asked if he kept in contact with anyone from the show, Crowley joked in response.
“No, I haven’t talked with anyone from my season since last week.”
Crowley enthusiastically passed around famed relics from the show such as his buffs and a homemade sundial as well as a fake immunity necklace and stone—two realistic idols that he cleverly crafted to deceive other contestants on the season.
Crowley acknowledged his Mainer identity as one of his defining television character features.
“The fact that so many of us from Maine are on the show is because we are … unusual,” Crowley said. He also joked with fans in the audience. “If you want to audition for the show, you have to tell them you are living in Maine, or at least a student in Maine,” he joked.
After answering the audiences’ questions and sharing his stories, Crowley and his wife, Peggy, sat with the audience and enjoyed the exhilarating season premiere. Bringing stories from television to life, Crowley’s presence and commentary added to the thrill of the screening. Students were on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next champion being born.