Survivor: Winners at War - Past Winners Share Survivor Secrets
The cast members of Survivor: Winners at War each share a secret about their winning season.
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
We’ve done 70-some-odd Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires so far, and have heard a wide range of stories from former players talking about the adjustment back to regular society after spending time starving, freezing, and not sleeping out on an island filled with people constantly lying to you. Some people have talked eloquently about the hardships they endured during reentry. Others have talked about unnecessarily hoarding food out of habit or being unable to trust others on even basic matters.
So what was it like for Survivor: Caramoan’s Matt Bischoff when he got back to Cincinnati, Ohio, after playing? “When I got back home and saw my wife for the first time, it was like a honeymoon for a long time,” says Matt. “The sex was unbelievable!” Damn right, it was!
That’s just some of the info (some might argue too much info) that Matt is dispensing in his Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire. The man with the sweetest facial hair in Survivor history was ultimately undone in the game by a tribe swap that left him and his fellow Fans down in the numbers. While he trusted he might be able to flip Dawn, in the end, Matt is the one who got flipped right out of the game. But he’s got plenty to say about both his time in and out of it, so grab some premium beard oil and dig in!
Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
MATT BISCHOFF: Man, time flies and I am the type of person who always has projects and many things going on. Survivor opened up so many cool things for me, so I have done a lot of Survivor-related things. Using the platform to speak at many engagements, attend a ton of charity events including Hearts of Reality, Reality Rally, Reality for Diabetes, Softball with the Stars, and I was lucky enough to get asked to play Durham Warriors Survival Challenge at Bob Crowley’s in Maine 2 times.
Those events were the ultimate, most real thing to Survivor. I also do a podcast with Survivor Legend Jonny Fairplay called Survivor NSFW where we break down the show and interview Survivor Castaways. It rules! I sing in a couple bands. Moonbow, which is a heavy rock band and we released 3 albums and played a bunch of shows. I also started another band called Soulgroup, which is more acoustic style stuff.
I got sponsored by a beard company called Mean Beard started by my friend and guitar player of Three Days Grace. It is a super cool group of bearded dudes and we have gone to a bunch of beard and mustache competitions repping Mean Beard! Most importantly, I spend a lot of time with my family doing fun stuff and going on adventures traveling. We also moved into a new house in 2016 and have been busy working on making it our own paradise! I am also getting ready to launch a new podcast soon with my friend Arthur Seay that is more based around music called Riff Killers. Stay tuned and check it out!
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I am such a huge Survivor fan, so to get the chance to play the ultimate game was an absolute dream come true. Unfortunately, on Caramoan, my tribe only won one challenge when I was in the game. So the first immunity challenge that Gota won was amazing. Fans vs Favs seasons are so unfair because returnees know how things work and us newbies are clueless.
When we won that first amazing Tower challenge, it was the greatest feeling in the world. I am glad I got to experience at least one victory. Honestly, a lot of the challenges were very close and we had a decent shot at winning others. This was a very proud moment. I do want to add that I had huge viewing parties every week at a restaurant with tons of people. To be able to share and live the experience with so many of my friends and family was awesome. And for my 2 boys to see their dad on TV was the ultimate! These experiences will be with me forever.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
I should have declined a Fans vs Favorites season and played an all newbie season instead lol.
In all seriousness, pretty much every Survivor I have ever met talks about the woulda coulda shoulda scenarios that will haunt you forever. Survivor is a blessing and a curse. For me, I was a victim of the dreaded tribe swap. 4 Favorites (Corinne, Phillip, Cochran, and Dawn) and 3 of us fans (myself, Michael Snow, and Julia Landauer). I was in a sold alliance with Michael and Julia, and I love them both dearly. When we switched tribes, the favorites told us they liked us but that if we lost a challenge one of us the fans was going to go home.
I tried my best to get in good with the favorites so I could stay in the game. At first, I felt pretty good. Dawn and I bonded as parents, and since I was big time in the BMX world at the time, her son was as well and I thought I had Dawn on my side. Boy, was I wrong… hahahah! I also felt good with Phillip, Corinne, and Cochran. I am a social player and I felt pretty good with my relationships.
The Favorites were paranoid one of the fans had an idol. I confessed, and was totally honest that none of us had one and not to worry. In the end, I got voted out as the biggest physical threat and most likable guy and that’s why they voted me out. My regret is I should have not been so honest about the idol. I should have pretended maybe to have one or trying to get Corinne onboard to blindside Phillip considering she hated him and she ended up getting voted out. I know you are asking my biggest regret, lol, but now my mind is going crazy. I regret just getting Shamar out of our tribe. I could not stand him in the game. I wish I would have just voted him out early on to get that bad vibe outta there!
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Michael Snow had a very dangerous thing happen where he passed out by the fire, but he told that story on his interview so I will give you something else. Michael and I were off on a trail one day and we came upon a coconut tree. He said I should try and climb it and get the coconuts down. I started climbing up the tree and he convinced me to keep climbing. I am scared of heights, but climbed it anyways. I felt like Ozzy! I got to the top and got down tons of coconuts. The camera guy was stoked and I really wish that had made the show. It happened again another time where they called in a helicopter for some sweet aerial shots but it never made the show. I still have the memories though!!
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
Overall, I feel good about my edit. So many great, strategic things went down that never got aired, which is a bummer because I feel I played a great game but I didn’t make it far enough to really tell my story, and a lot of the pre-merge edit was overshadowed by Shamar drama and Brandon and Phillip nonsense. At the end of the day, it was positive. The experience I had and still have with fans is amazing and I don’t have anything to complain about.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back? It was definitely a culture shock.
I had just experienced playing Survivor, then getting voted out and going on a pre-jury trip. It was a vacation of a lifetime in Malaysia. Every day was a fantasy. I was away from my work and my wife and children and life for nearly 2 months without contact. To go from the mental, physical, and emotional toll of Survivor back to real life was a big adjustment. I had a real issue with food. I went to get McDonald's breakfast every day and I never wanted to be without food for any amount of time. When I got back home and saw my wife for the first time, it was like a honeymoon for a long time. The sex was unbelievable, lol! And I started sobbing crying when I saw my kids for the first time. That was the hardest thing for me, being gone for so long from my kids. It sucked. I learned to appreciate the small things — like cold water and roof over my head. It was a life-changing thing that still affects me to this day.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Never. I am such a huge fan of Survivor since day 1. The fact that I got to actually play the game is a dream come true and I still can’t believe I did it. I love Survivor and I always will and my experience and great memories will be with me for the rest of my life.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
Caramoan was a weird season as far as people staying in touch. Half the fans tribe weren’t actual fans so they pretty much dropped off the earth in the Survivor world. Michael Snow is my greatest friendship from the show. We stay in contact regularly. I love Snowy and he is a very smart and good player. I stay in contact with Dawn and Corinne from the Favorites. We have also done a bunch of podcast stuff with Brandon Hantz and Eric Reichenbach. Besides Michael from Gota, I have always been close with Laura and Julia. It is good to be able to stay connected via social media and text. But as you know, life goes on and staying in close contact drifts away. I love all my cast for the most part and would love to have a Caramoan reunion at some point!
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
Oh yeah, I love Survivor and watch it all. Fairplay and I are heavily active in the Survivor community because of our podcast. I would say Pearl Islands is one of my favorites. So many great characters — heroes and villains with people like Fairplay and Rupert and the theme itself. Classic Survivor. Africa was also a season that I adore. A more recent season I dug was Cagayan. Even though some of the recent seasons have been sub-par, I still love Survivor and hope it continues for many years to come.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Lex Van den Berge. Lex is my dear friend and one of my favorite Survivors. I also love Big Tom and others from Africa. I think being able to play with Lex and Big Tom would have ruled the Earth!!
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Bring back other locations throughout the World. I’m tired of seeing Fiji every season. Part of what made me fall in love with Survivor was the different cultures and parts of the world. It made me appreciate all the different places and learning about the locations. It kept Survivor interesting. Climate, scenery etc were always different and created different and memorable seasons. Fiji is beautiful, but is stale to me. I also miss the food auction, Rites of Passage and old things that made Survivor great that they shoved by the wayside. I think there has to be new twists to keep it exciting and evolving for the viewers, but it has gotten out of hand.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
100 percent. I would leave tomorrow to play. I have a ton of game still to play and would love to have the chance to play again. Call me, Probst!