“The reason ‘Survivor’ is still working is so many kids are into this show now,” Jeff Probst told Jimmy Fallon during a recent interview on “The Tonight Show” (watch above). Probst has hosted CBS’s reality TV show since day one, but he’s noticed in recent years that more and more youngsters are watching it thanks to the old seasons now streaming on Hulu. The series is currently gearing up for Season 40, aka “Survivor: Winners at War,” which brings back 20 champions to compete for the ultimate title of Sole Survivor.
“I meet nine-year-olds who say, ‘I started watching a year ago and I’m fully caught up,'” Probst explained. “So my point being, we have eight-nine-ten-eleven-year-old kids who have seen 20 years worth of ‘Survivor’ and they’re amped for these people. They weren’t even alive when these people played 20 years ago!”
When Fallon asked whether Probst ever thought he’d do 40 seasons of “Survivor,” the host responded, “No. I remember being in the jungle in Borneo in the South China Sea, walking through the mud, in the rain, carrying a tripod, thinking this is the greatest summer of my life. I wondered if anyone would even watch this show, let alone like it. I remember being here in New York at 56th and 6th when [producer] Mark Burnett said we’re gonna do an All-Stars season in 2004. I was like, ‘Oh man, when you do the greatest hits, you’re done. That’s the end of the rock band.’ And that was 16 years ago.”
Fallon showed a clip of the Season 40 premiere, which airs February 12 on CBS, in which Probst informs the 20 returning winners about the big news: instead of a $1 million prize, this time there will be a $2 million prize. “The largest cash prize in the history of reality shows,” he proclaims. “All you gotta do is win.”
Probst won four Emmy Awards for his role as “Survivor” host between 2008 and 2011, a record that was just recently matched by RuPaul Charles (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”). The reality TV show originally premiered in 2000, with Probst becoming a producer in 2003.