Survivor's Jacob Derwin Explains Why He Wanted To Be This Season's Teddy Bear

And, who was he most surprised to bond with and which castaway did he see as a mother figure?


Survivor: Ghost Island kicked off with a two-hour premiere episode that sent not just one but two castaways waving goodbye to the competition.

The second cast-off of the season was superfan Jacob Derwin, a music teacher from New York, who seemed to be doing everything he could to make it further in the game.

He was searching through rice for Idols and clues, was the first person sent to Ghost Island to snoop around on his own, and he even decided to tell the truth (well, part of it) to his tribe members upon returning, hoping it would pay off.

Unfortunately for Jacob, his transparency was perceived as shadiness to his Malolo Tribe and he was swiftly voted out at the second Tribal Council.

STREAM: The Season Premiere Of Survivor: Ghost Island On CBS All Access

"Y'all did good," he said walking away from his snuffed flame.

It was a dream crushed for this fan who has imagined himself playing the game for over a decade now.

We caught up with the second eliminated castaway of the season and here's what he had to say.



As a Survivor superfan, how were you feeling walking into the relic graveyard of Ghost Island?

Jacob Derwin: It was just so mind blowing. Everyone just needs to remember, we didn't know what the twist was. Even when they said, "Welcome to Survivor: Ghost Island", we don’t know what that meant. Reversing the curse of past mistakes… so is it going to be like a challenge that has been there before? Like, what does it mean?

And to then find out that it's an island where a bunch of advantages might be—or at least the one—from former players. It's completely insane and to be surrounded by all that stuff from former seasons. Oh my God, the snuffers, it's just mind blowing!



You made a bold statement suggesting that Malolo was the "greatest tribe in Survivor history." Do you still feel that way?

Jacob: I never felt that way. I was doing it for a few reasons. One, because I knew I was dead in the water so maybe pumping myself up, pumping my tribe up and showing them loyalty, maybe they'd believe it. Maybe they would be like, "He's desperate, he'll stick with us. Let's keep him around for later."

The other half of it was literally for the other tribe. I was just trying to put all the focus on me. I knew that when they were going to send someone to Ghost Island it was going to be either me or Donathan, because we were two not-as-strong people. So I was basically like, "Look at me! Pick me!" throwing my hands in the air and it basically worked.

And boasting about that was me like, "If I can make people hate me, maybe they’ll keep sending me." Unfortunately, it didn't quite go as planned. 


Do you think going to Ghost Island spared you from going home at the first Tribal?

Jacob: I would have gone home first. Look, maybe I could have figured something out, but if it wasn't me, it would have been Donathan. I had nobody on my tribe. I personally can't think of anything that could have pulled me out of that situation short of a miracle, and that's what Ghost Island happened to be. 



Do you think your tribe was targeting you even before they caught on to the fake Idol you made?

Jacob: I think I was dead on Day 1. I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me immediately. That's why I did all the crazy stuff I did because on Days 1 and 2 and I was trying to talk game with everyone—which is what you do—and nobody would talk with me.

I would go on walks with people and ask, "So tell me what you're thinking about?" and they’d go, "I don’t know yet." I got that from everyone which basically meant "It's you, Jacob."

I kind of decided, if everyone's against me, then I got to do this on my own. I got to find an Idol or make something. I got to come up with a bluff. I've got to do something! So I tried everything and unfortunately nothing stuck.



What made you decide to tell Stephanie everything? Do you think it would've changed anything if you had kept quiet?

Jacob: I think she was my only hope. I wasn't connecting with Michael much, and not Libby and definitely not Jenna. Stephanie and I had been getting along for a few days. It wasn't like suddenly she touched my arm and I was like, "Oh, a girl!"

I saw her as a maternal figure. I was trying to play up the mom-son thing. I was hoping that she was my gift to all these pretty people, and that if she wanted to work with me, she would get Jenna and then I could get Laurel and James, and we could pull off something big.

My way of doing that was putting all my trust in her and being like, "Here's everything. Take it or leave it. Give me a try." She wanted the info but she wasn't much use for me in the moment. I can respect the game and it is what it is.

Looking back and watching your episodes now, as a superfan, how would you critique your game? 


Jacob: Now that I've done it, I have to recognize the fact that I was out there for six days and fans don't really see everything. For me, the biggest critiques are: I should have stayed with the group more. There were situations where I would do things alone when I should have been with the group. The moment you walk away from the group, they have an opportunity to talk without you.

So, you can't get around that. If I had been a little less curious about the rice jar, maybe I would have connected with them better and had conversations and something else could have happened. I don’t know. I didn't mean to be by myself so much but it kept happening.



What did you learn about yourself during your time on Survivor?

Jacob: I'm not everyone's cup of tea. My whole strategy was that I was just trying to make everyone super comfortable, that I'd be their shoulder to cry on, their teddy bear, their whatever, but that assumed that my tribe was going to need someone like that.

There were a lot of macho people out there that were super independent and some super accomplished people. Those people aren't going to need me for that. They don't need a teddy bear to cry on on Day 5. I think I should have just put my head down and blend in more.

What was one of your most fun moments on the island?

Jacob: 

I mean, Ghost Island's pretty cool, man. Besides that, I loved going fishing with the fishing equipment we won. Getting to do that was pretty cool. And, Libby and I were the first people to make fire in the first two days. That felt really cool to be like, "Oh, I can actually do this." That felt amazing.

Just the little bonding moments that I got to bond with people I never would have met otherwise. Like, I was never going to meet someone like James outside of this. James is so far above me in every sort of capacity.

The fact that we've spent time together outside of the game is like one of the funniest things on the planet to me. I don't deserve him at all. It was great to meet all the different people on my tribe and be part of a bigger family.



Watch all-new episodes of Survivor: Ghost Island on Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.