11 Things Jeff Varner Wants You To Know Following His Second Chance Send-Off

Jeff Varner reflects on his Second Chance experience.

1. Jeff Varner reflects on his Second Chance experience.

On Episode 4 of Survivor Cambodia, the hilariously honest Jeff Varner ended up getting voted off camp following an epic Second Chance hour that had tribes fighting for Rewards, Immunity Idols, and gasps of air—literally. 

We were able to catch up with Jeff and he shared insights about his return run on the show, including what he thinks about the way Abi-Maria Gomes voted, the importance of a strong social game, and how this experience has truly catapulted him onto a more self-reflective, enlightened path. Read on!
1. Looking back at your Second Chance stint, would you have done anything differently?

2. 1. Looking back at your Second Chance stint, would you have done anything differently?

"Yeah, I mean, my mistakes are glaring to me. There are all kinds of things I would have done differently, but I want to be clear that I have no regrets. This is what it's supposed to be. You know what's so funny? My favorite number is 314 because my grandfather was born on 3/14 and he's my idol. Season 31, [I was] voted out fourth... it's just something about those numbers that stuck with me that it was meant to be the way it was meant to be.

My whole thing was to go through this experience and challenge myself so that I could be a different person on the other end. I was so excited to meet the person I was going to be, and that has exceeded my expectations more and more and more."
2. Did you really like Abi-Maria?

3. 2. Did you really like Abi-Maria?

"Yes, I do, I can't help it. Abi's crazy [and] my whole family's crazy. We put our crazy on the front porch and shine a spotlight on it, and we're proud of it. So when I see crazy people, I'm just comfortable with them. She's entertaining, she's fun. You never can predict where she's gonna go and what she's gonna do, and I like being around people like that. They make life interesting. I don't like routines and the norm.

Yeah, she's annoying, but if you understand people like that, then you know how to handle them. Abi never attacked me or got crazy with me. All I had to do was tell her how sweet and beautiful and fun she is, put her on a pedestal, [and] put the crown on her head. I never had to worry about her."
3. Were you more surprised or disappointed that Abi-Maria voted you out?

4. 3. Were you more surprised or disappointed that Abi-Maria voted you out?

"I was not surprised because I was hurt, and that injury was a lot more intense than the editing showed. My foot was all swollen. My toe was black. That injury hampered me for awhile. I couldn't walk for about two weeks—and, I couldn't hide that.

Abi made the decision she had to make. She will always do what's best for Abi. She had the choice of going with Tasha Fox and Andrew Savage, which offered her the promise of a fresh clean start, or Peih-Gee Law and Woo Hwang, who had already tried to vote her out twice. So, she made the choice she had to make, and she was loyal to me in that she told me she was doing it and why she had to do it. I'm not mad at her for that. 

I went into that Tribal knowing I was gone, but I fought anyway because of the viewers. They voted me to be there and I was not going to just sizzle out. Even though I knew I was going, I put forth that fight to stay for the people at home watching. I'm very grateful they gave me the opportunity to be there." 
5. Can you elaborate on the intensity of your last Immunity Challenge?

6. 5. Can you elaborate on the intensity of your last Immunity Challenge?

"You gotta go back further than even that. We lived on a beach with nothing. We had no food, no shelter, nothing. It was kind of demoralizing, in a way. Our spirits were depleted and it was hard to put two thoughts together. Even going into my confessionals in the woods, I couldn't communicate some days because I couldn't focus. 

We showed up for that very brutal challenge in that frame of mind and it was awful. I was the caller and wasn't one of the people running around, so I was exhausted on a different level. It was hell for me. And when I picked up that puzzle piece, it just slipped right through my hands, and that was it. I couldn't think of anything else other than my throbbing foot. And, when we all got back on the mat, I remember going down on my knees 'cause I just couldn't stand there anymore. [I] thought I was gonna pass out.

Jeff Probst even told us out there, 'All I've been doing is standing here talking, and I'm about to pass out.' That heat, 100-percent humidity, no breeze? Absolutely horrible." 
7. How would you compare your first day on your second season to the first day on your first season?

7. 7. How would you compare your first day on your second season to the first day on your first season?

"The first day on my first season was like crawling into bed [and] taking a nap compared to this one.

The first season, all we did was fly in, land, walk, and build a shelter. It was like going camping with your friends. This one was much faster and harder, and went right into a little challenge of sorts. We landed on the beach and things went immediately into strategy. People were pulling me into the woods. 

[Second Chance] was a very different experience."
6. How much longer do you think you would have lasted if you went to a different tribe?

8. 6. How much longer do you think you would have lasted if you went to a different tribe?

"Much, much, much longer because I like all those people and I feel like they liked me. I'm good with people, and I'm a good contributor with a good social game. 

I feel like I had good enough relationships with people that I could have kept going. Survivor's a social game. Outwit, outlast. That's not about out-lift, out-jump, and out-run. This game is about people playing with people, and even though I loved all those [castaways] who were all about winning challenges, when you win and win and win, you don't play the game. 

I love people, but there are a lot of people on that cast that I don't have respect for their game." 


 
8. Which castaway(s) could you picture winning the title this time around?

9. 8. Which castaway(s) could you picture winning the title this time around?

"I'm not there, so I'm not sure, but Wentworth's got that Idol in her pocket, so I'm hoping she does well. She's the one I'm counting on.

Of course, I'm pulling for Terry and Wigles, but Wentworth is a better player than them.

And, Spencer Bledsoe. You know, I kind of want him to win because I tried so hard to get rid of him, and if he makes it to the end and wins, then it's a good-oId 'I told you so.'" 
9. What does Survivor mean to you?

10. 9. What does Survivor mean to you?

"Survivor, to me, is a life-changing experience. It's just one of those moments that God has put into my path. All of the things I hoped I had learned the first time that I didn't, I'm just so grateful that I had the opportunity to do it a second time—to right those wrongs, and come at it from a different angle. 

I'm embracing everything. It's helping me to not only get to know me, but a new me that I'm really excited about going into my future with. 

You don't know who you can become until you're challenged. I think everybody should try to do it, challenge themselves in some way to get to the next level, and this is a great opportunity to do that." 
10. Do you have any advice for aspiring Survivor castaways?

11. 10. Do you have any advice for aspiring Survivor castaways?

"A reality-show cast is a puzzle, and you just have to be the right piece with the right piece. They find a good personality they want, and then they look for someone to compliment or clash with that person.

You never know what they're looking for, so I think the smartest thing for anyone trying is to always be yourself. If you can't tell a story compellingly in a short amount of time, you're never going to get chosen. Really embrace who you are and show that to them. They need to know who you are in 10-15 seconds.

Hit 'em with the best right out of the gate. Make them want more."

 
11. Any final words on your experience and what fans can expect from you next?

12. 11. Any final words on your experience and what fans can expect from you next?

"I'm glad they got to show the whole midlife-quest angle to my approach because that's really launched me into a different direction. It's helped me understand that there's so much more ahead of me. I want to help people get to that level, as well.

I'm starting a travel company called Project Explorer and I hope to challenge people with it. I'm trying to launch a TV show surrounding the midlife-quest theme. Who knows where it's gonna go? We'll see what happens." 

Watch new episodes of Survivor Cambodia every Wednesday at 8/7c.