There are 20 former champions returning to play Survivor: Winners at War. That means everyone stands a 5% chance of taking home the record $2 million prize. Only, not really. Because two of the contestants in season 40 are married. The presence of both Rob and Amber Mariano means the couple has a 10% chance of winning of the money.
That would add to the already considerable financial haul the duo has earned from appearing on CBS reality shows — including Amber’s win in Survivor: All-Stars, Rob’s win in Redemption Island, five other Survivor appearances, plus two seasons of The Amazing Race. But while Rob and Amber undeniably have a financial advantage over the other contestants in terms of having two people playing for the same cash prize, how does having them play on the same season impact the game itself? Because in an otherwise individual game, the Marianos have their own little Blood vs. Water situation happening.
We asked host Jeff Probst on day 1 of filming about the Rob and Amber factor and how it might influence season 40. “I don’t know what impact Rob and Amber will have being in the show together,” says Probst. “because the obvious thing would be, we’ve got to get rid of one or both. They’re two votes.” Probst also told EW that if he were playing in season 40 he would vote Rob out of the game first, and then his wife right after that. But there is another avenue to consider, he notes. “Unless I’m in an alliance with them, and then I think that’s two more with me right now. So I don’t know that it’s a slam dunk to say they’re one of the first two that should go home.”
Probst thinks that with this many great players and competing strategies, that there is no way to predict what will actually happen, even with the obvious Mariano threat. “That’s what is so interesting about this season,” he says. “You have 20 very smart players, and there is not one way to win. Otherwise Sandra would not have won twice when everybody knew she had already won once. She figured out a way to do it and they voted for her again. So that’s what makes me feel that even though Rob and Amber appear to be the target, Rob and Amber are smart winners. They must have thought through this. They must have an idea.”
We’ll find out when Survivor: Winners at War premieres Feb. 12 on CBS.
To watch Probst talk about the Rob and Amber factor, watch the video at the top of the post. For more Survivor articles, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss, and for exclusive season 40 photos, follow him on Instagram @thedaltonross.