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The average age of a Survivor player, and how that’s changed

The average age of a Survivor player, and how that’s changed
The Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance cast is the second-oldest cast in the show's 31-season history. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS)

A few weeks ago, I analyzed the ages of all Big Brother houseguests over 17 seasons, to see if CBS’ summer reality competition was getting younger. Now, it’s time to do the same for contestants on Survivor, which has aired two seasons a year since 2000.

reality blurred Survivor age correspondent Clark Wilcox ran the numbers, and included extra data, such as how many players over the age of 40 made it to the merge and the average age of those who make it to the final Tribal Council.

The results, as with Big Brother, are fascinating. For starters, Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance will be the show’s second-oldest season ever, and it’s only barely behind Nicaragua.

Survivor cast members’ ages, 2000 to 2015

average age

average age of final two or three

players 40+

players 40+ at merge

youngestoldest
Borneo 35.8 31 3 1 Jenna Lewis, 22 Rudy Boesch, 72
Australian Outback 33.7 32.5 4 2 Amber Brkich, 22 Rodger Bingham, 53
Africa 35.1 42 7 4 Kelly Goldsmith, 22 Kim Johnson, 57
Marquesas 34.8 28.5 4 2 Neleh Dennis, 21 Paschal English, 57
Thailand 35.4 40 5 4 Robb Zbacnik, 23 Jake Billingsley,  61
Amazon 32.2 27.5 4 2 Jenna Morasca, 21 Roger Sexton, 56
Pearl Islands 30.6 40 3 2 Michelle T. and Darrah J., 22 Lillian Morris, 51
All Stars 36.7 26.5 8 4 Jenna Morasca, 22 Rudy Boesch, 75
Vanuatu 33.6 37 4 3 Eliza Orlins, 21 Scout Cloud Lee, 59
Palau 32.4 35 4 2 Jeff Wilson, 21 Willard Smith, 57
Guatemala 31.2 27.5 4 2 Morgan M. and Brianna V.,21 Jim Lynch, 63
Exile Island 35.1 24 5 2 Misty, Austin, Danielle, & Aras, 24 Bruce Kanegai, 58
Cook Islands 31.9 28 3 1 Candice Woodcock, 23 Sekou Bunch, 46
Fiji 33.7 34 4 2 Michelle Yi, 23 Gary Stritesky, 55
China 30.2 23.7 2 1 Michael “Frosti” Zernow, 20 Steve “Chicken” Morris, 48
Micronesia 33.2 24 5 0 Jason S. and Erik R., 22 Yau-Man Chan, 55
Gabon 32.7 44.3 4 3 Kelly C. & Ken H., 22 Gillian Larson, 61
Tocantins 31.8 26.5 3 1 Spencer Duhm, 19 Sandy Burgin, 53
Samoa 33.3 31.7 4 1 Ashley Trainer, 22 Mike Borassi, 62
Heroes vs. Villains 33.8 32.7 3 1 Amanda K. & J.T. T., 25 Randy Bailey, 50
Nicaragua 37.6 25 10 4 Kelly Shinn, 20 Jimmy Johnson, 67
Redemption Island 34.3 35 5 4 Natalie Tenerelli, 19 Phillip Sheppard, 52
South Pacific 32.1 29 4 2 Brandon Hantz, 19 Rick Nelson, 51
One World 33.3 29.3 4 2 Colton Cumbie, 21 Greg “Tarzan” Smith, 64
Philippines 34.6 46.7 7 6 Angie Layton, 20 Artis Silvester, 53
Caramoan 30.8 36 4 4 Brandon H. and Julia L., 21 Phillip Sheppard, 54
Blood vs. Water 33.8 39.7 7 4 Marissa Peterson, 21 Tina Wesson, 52
Cagayan 32.3 34 4 2 Alexis, Morgan, and Spencer, 21 Trish Hegarty, 48
San Juan Del Sur 32.6 33.3 3 2 Baylor Wilson, 20 Dale Wentworth, 55
Worlds Apart 33.9 43.7 5 4 Jenn Brown, 22 Carolyn Rivera, 52
Cambodia: Second Chance
37.2 N/A 6 (unknown) Spencer Bledsoe, 22 Terry Deitz, 55

The average age of a Survivor cast member has been 33.5, compared to 28.9 for Big Brother. The average age of the finalists has been 32.9, slightly younger but only slightly. In other words, it doesn’t appear that age gives any kind of statistical advantage.

That said, it’s less likely that players 40 and over make it to the merge: about half of them are voted out pre-merge. There are an average of 4.58 of those Survivors every season, and an average of 2.5 make it to the merge. (I’ll leave it to you to judge the relationship between a season’s average age and its quality of game play.)

What is Survivor continues to cast relatively large numbers of players over 40–often 25 percent or more of the entire cast. For many reasons, it’s superior to other shows on television, unscripted and not, but I think its commitment to diversity in casting, both age and otherwise, is part of what makes it so strong.

The average age of contestants on Survivor seasons 1 to 31

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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