Ethan says living in the Kill Reality house was “the worst experience of my life”

Survivor Africa winner Ethan Zohn visited my small town last night, delivering a lecture at Stetson University, where I teach when I’m not watching reality TV.

Unlike the last time a few reality “stars” visited here, we were not relegated with tales of celebrity penis size or drunken hook-ups. Tragically for those hoping for dirty, empty gossip–like me–Ethan turned out to be as down-to-earth and selfless as he was on TV. He wasn’t humorless, though, preempting questions about how much sex there was on Survivor by saying, “not as much as after I won a million bucks.”

During his public lecture, Ethan also joked that he is now on a new E! series called “Kill My Career,” which he said “is a joke in itself.” He said he got involved with Kill Reality because it’d be fun to make a movie, and while he loved that part, “living in the house was miserable, torture–the worst experience of my life.”

He made that remark shortly after revealing that, on Survivor, they consumed about 100 to 200 calories a day, which explains the weight loss and emaciation. During production, he said, “What I wasn’t prepared for was the loneliness and isolation of being stuck in the middle of Africa.”

During his talk, titled “Character: The Ultimate Survival Tool,” Ethan discussed, among other things, how he “was selfless in a selfish game” and how that, plus becoming a valuable “member of the community” helped him to win. He also talked about his work with Grassroot Soccer, and encouraged the crowd of mostly college students to “make a difference for yourself while making a difference for others. The key is to do more than just come here tonight.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.