Survivor host Jeff Probst used to travel by sea and sky to deliver votes, but those days are no more. His “official” explanation is that “we don’t want to do it just to do it and waste time out of our finale,” but there’s a more convincing reason: he doesn’t want to die.
While filming an episode of Survivor: Vanuatu in 2004, Probst hacked his way through a jungle and boarded a plane to deliver the vote. So far, so good. But then he had to jump out of the plane. “When you skydive, they tell you two things. Check your altimeter, which tells you how high you are, and check your horizon line to make sure your body is oriented right. And you’re supposed to pull your chute at 5,500 feet,” he said on the On Fire with Jeff Probst podcast).
But on the sixth jump, Probst got distracted. “I check my altimeter, and then I look at the horizon, and I decide to take in beautiful California,” he said. “I’m looking at the horizon and thinking, this is amazing. I look down at my altimeter and it says 4,500 feet.” Uh oh.
“So suddenly I go, ‘Oh my God!’ And what they teach you to do is wave your arms together like an X. That lets everybody know, I’m pulling my chute. And they tell you very specifically, when you reach back to pull you chute, when you grab it, punch out to make sure none of your clothing gets tangled up. So I reach back and I punch out and my chute goes up. I’m like, oh, thank God.”
One problem: the chute doesn’t open. “In that case they said to scissor kick,” Probst explained. “So I’m at 4,400 feet. I’m quickly getting close to the ground, and I scissor kick, and the chute opens.” Thankfully, he made it to the ground, safe and sound, but it was “one of the scariest times of my life.”
Former Survivor contestant Mike White should recreate the plane jump for The White Lotus season 3. Maybe cast Probst to relive his trauma, as a thank you.