Has a gender gap emerged on Survivor? In terms of winner distribution, the show’s first 25 seasons could not have been any more even, with 13 men and 12 women taking home the million-dollar prize. But then, something changed. Nine of the last 12 seasons have been won by men, including the last three.
There have been many theories as to why males have dominated the winner’s circle in the last six years of the show. Hidden immunity idols play a major role in how far people get and how they are judged at the final Tribal Council, and men have found way more of them than their female counterparts have. (There are, in turn, many theories as to why that is.) There is also the feeling among many viewers (and players) that men are rewarded by juries for playing aggressively while women are punished for the exact same behavior. Whatever the reasons, the recent numbers don’t lie.
Could Edge of Extinction (premiering Feb. 20 on CBS) buck that recent trend? When we spoke to host Jeff Probst out in Fiji right after the game began, he had one new female contestant already pegged as a potential winner, and that contestant was Lauren O’Connell. “Big threat to win this game,” said Probst. “I don’t know if we’ve had a young woman this age with as many skills as Lauren has… If she gets to the end, she could dominate.”
Watch the video above to see a few other women Probst thinks have a good shot at the title this season (including one he says is “the type of personality that I yearn for every season”), as well as the one person he says is struggling right out of the gate. Any guesses?
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Jeff Probst leads adventurous in the ultimate (and original) reality series.