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Terry Deitz talks Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance
Terry Deitz on returning to play Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 delayed 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.
Terry Deitz dominated Survivor: Panama — Exile Island. He won the very first individual challenge on the game's very first day. He found a hidden immunity idol. And he won an incredible nine individual post-merge challenges (five immunities and four rewards). But Terry was doomed by a final immunity challenge design that probably gave him no chance to win and the pilot was grounded on day 38 of the game in third place. (The very next season, Survivor moved to a final three format as a direct result.)
It was a heartbreaking end to an epic run, but not as heartbreaking as what happened 19 seasons later. Terry made his big return after being voted in by fans to play on Survivor: Cambodia — Second Chance, but his journey was cut short not due to being voted out, nor due to any injury in the game. Rather, a medical scare back home with Terry's son Danny brought Jeff Probst to the beach on day 13 with news that Terry should return home to be with his family.
The best news, of course, is that after two open-heart surgeries, Danny underwent a successful heart transplant and was ultimately okay. But one can't help but wonder what Terry's fate would have been had he stayed in the game. We'll never know, but courtesy of his Quarantine Questionnaire, we now at least know whom Terry was looking to work with had he stayed. Read on to get the scoop!
Monty Brinton/CBS Terry Deitz of 'Survivor'
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
TERRY DEITZ: I'm still flying for American Airlines and enjoying my last few years until I retire in 2024. We moved to San Diego four years ago, but last fall moved to Florida. Kids are doing well! My daughter is in nursing school in Phoenix and my son is online with Chico State.
Last spring, my wife, son and I spent months at our house in the Bahamas rebuilding it after it was totaled by hurricane Dorian. It was a success, but definitely a Survivor-like experience on a hurricane damaged island!!
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My proudest moment would have to be winning 9 individual challenges — 5 immunity and 4 reward. I believe Exile Island had the most athletic cast, with the most athletic challenges.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?
My biggest regret would be not giving Shane the hidden immunity idol when there were 5 of us left. I needed him, but he had me convinced that Danielle was getting voted off. Unfortunately, he got blindsided. I believe you would have seen a final with Shane and I.
What's something that will blow fans minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?
Nothing really mind-blowing that would have changed anything.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I believe I had a good edit. Had I won, it would've been better. They didn't show all of the psychological stuff being said to piss me off, mostly just my replies. Also, the fact that in the last two weeks, I was spearing fish and feeding everyone.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
No real culture shock for me coming back from Panama. Having spent 3 years of my life deployed on aircraft carriers, definitely prepared me for that. Coming back from Cambodia to spend three months with my son and family in the hospital was definitely a shock!
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
It was an honor to compete on Survivor and I have no regrets.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?
I still talk to Bobby Mason, Bruce Kanegai, Shane, Aras, Danielle, Ruth Marie and Austin Carty. I've found that it takes effort, as we get older, to reach out and stay in touch. It goes both ways, and we remain a part of each other's lives. It's awesome!
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
Probably season 10, where Tom Westman won. He inspired me to apply for the show. And yes, I still watch Survivor! I'll always be a fan!
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Actually, five players. Some were on Cambodia with me, but obviously I had to leave: Jeremy, Savage, Abi, Joe, and Kim Spradlin. The first four are from Cambodia. I felt those are the people I would have aligned with had I stayed. We would have cleaned house!! And Kim, because of her challenge success and strategic game.
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
The game is evolving to where the actual survival part of the game is being minimized. They no longer need to boil their water and there's too much food. The hardship and mental toughness required to get through circumstances like these was part of my game. There should be at least one person per game that quits or on the verge of quitting due to the hardship of their environment.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
As I'm still jetting around the country, they'd have to make it worth my while. My vacay will only cover so much. If the timing is right, I'd definitely go back. 😜