The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Jeremy Collins

Jeremy Collins

San Juan del Sur, CambodiaWinners at War

To celebrate the 40th season of Survivor, we’re counting down the 40 Most Influential Survivors to ever play the game. Because Survivor is a game, a tv show, and a rabid fandom, we’re taking all forms of influence into consideration for this list. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. Note: this list is presented in chronological order and there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.

Jeremy Collins is the 33rd entry in this series.

From the start of Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, it seemed to be the tale of two possible winner’s edits: Josh Canfield and Jeremy Collins. But then Josh was voted out at the first vote after the merge, so the game must be Jeremy’s for the taking right? Well, not quite, though the betrayal would inspire an impressive run from his top ally.

Although his game was cut short, his “surround and drown” strategy would extend for seasons to come.


Just kidding.

Obviously we’re largely going to talk about his performance in Cambodia, where he won an impressive 10-0-0 vote against two players who were thought of as threats to win in their previous season.

When people discuss Jeremy’s winning game, two words come to mind: meat shields. While forms of this strategy had been used in the past, it was most clearly articulated by the Boston firefighter. Even though the immunity challenge he won in his first season was a memory challenge, he was targeted as an immunity threat. Probably because he looks like this.

So to distract from that, he wanted to keep other challenge beasts, alpha types, and notable threats around as long as he could. Simply by saying it as often as he did, it’s become a commonly discussed strategy among the fandom for future seasons. It’s practically the only reason these “obvious threats” make it past a swap anymore. And of course, the strategy can be applied to fit different styles of player – this very season Sophie spoke of wanting to make Yul her “nerd shield”.

His perceived physical prowess was not the only reason Jeremy was considered such a threat in San Juan Del Sur, however. It was also his story, being a firefighter with two children. That’s all it took. So when he set off for his second chance while Val was pregnant with their third child, he knew he couldn’t talk about it and risk seeming even more like a shoe-in. Until it came time for final tribal council, of course. That’s when he laid it all out, including how the loved ones’ visit gave Val the opportunity to tell him they were having a boy. The subsequent unanimous vote had people wondering if that’s what secured the win for Jeremy.

It certainly didn’t hurt.

In all likelihood, he wins anyway, which is also the case of Adam Klein and his tragic personal reveal two seasons (but only one filmed season) later. But as the saying goes, perception is reality, and now players are frequently targeted for their “story” as much as their gameplay. It had happened before, but nowadays people are thinking of charismatic Jeremy the firefighter and his now four children at home. It’s even why he’s being targeted now (“now” being “the day you might be reading this”, provided we pretend that this wasn’t all filmed months ago)!

Who else made the list?

You can see each entry on the list by clicking this link.