The winner of Survivor is not the only person who walks away with money, every castaway gets a certain amount of money dependent on how long they stayed in the game. For example the 2nd place winner receives $100,000.
While in Australia, Colby Donaldson removed corals from the Great Barrier Reef, a crime resulting in a fine of AU$110,000. Technically, he should have been disqualified from the show due to breaking the local law. The helicopter involved with the reward also flew around sea bird rookeries. When this episode aired in Australia, the commercial breaks featured advertisements that stated removing coral from the Great Barrier Reef is illegal and results in a fine.
An early challenge on "Survivor: The Australian Outback" consisted of the castaways having to balance a wooden pole with jugs of water hanging from it on their shoulders. The tribe-member who held on the longest won a reward for their tribe. However, one of the poles unexpectedly broke under the weight of all the water and the challenge had to be run a second time with slightly different rules. Since this incident, every challenge featured on the show is tested by a team of people (known as the "Dream Team") prior to filming in order to discover loopholes and ways to cheat.
Mark Burnett wanted the Tribal Council to feel like it was a ritual that had been going on for thousands of years. However, some small features of the Tribal Council ceremony disappeared after the first season. The gong that the Survivors would ring upon entering or exiting the Tribal Council area was canned because it was, in the words of host 'Jeff Probst (I)', "corny." The first Tribal Council set also featured a treasure chest full of fake dollar bills. In one of the early episodes of season 1, the Survivors passed around a conch shell and took turns talking. The person holding the shell would be the one speaking, and when he or she was done, he or she would pass the shell to the next person. Probst disapproved of this method of moderating Tribal Council because he felt that he didn't have anything to do other than sit and listen, and the conch shell was never seen again after this episode.
The tenth season of Survivor, Palau, set a lot of records. (Note: these applied to the series Survivor at the point when the tenth season aired, some may or may not still apply): 1) First time there were 20 contestants at the start of the game 2) First time that 2 survivors never got a chance to play the game 3) First time that a tribe did not win a single immunity challenge 4) First tribe of one 5) First time there was no merge (the final tribe was still known as Koror even after Stephenie joined) 6) Greatest number of ties at tribal councils 7) Longest Challenge in Survivor history (final immunity challenge, lasted 11 hours) 8) First tribal council held at a challenge (final immunity challenge)
On December 5, 2006, about two days before the final Tribal Council on "Survivor: Fiji," a coup d'état was started by Fiji's military leader, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. While there was some speculation that a full evacuation of the Survivor crew members from Fiji would take place, only a few crew members on the mainland were relocated to the second-smallest island.
Melissa McNulty, a 28-year-old talent manager from West Hollywood, was set to be a contestant on Survivor's fourteenth season, "Survivor: Fiji," but due to massive panic attacks she withdrew from the game the night before filming was to begin. As there was no time to find a replacement, "Survivor: Fiji" became the first season of Survivor to start with an odd number of contestants.
The lyrics to the "Survivor" theme, "Ancient Voices" (composed by Russ Landau) are based on an ancient Russian folk song. Every season the song is re-mixed to include musical elements of the location in which the show is being filmed. (For the theme of "Survivor: China", Landau met with a choir of young women and translated the Russian lyrics into Mandarin. He also added an ancient Chinese folk song that is played over the main lyrics.)
It was decided that Survivor IV would take place in the Marquesas after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 made their original plan to film in Jordan unfeasible. Host Jeff Probst has said that the Marquesas was the "worst location ever" and would never be used again, due to the unbearable pain and discomfort caused by the biting No-No sand-flies.
Although the second season was set in what the producers called the Outback of Australia, the location was only slightly remote by Australian standards (it was within three hours drive of Cairns, a small city on the coastline), and it was located in a wet, semi-tropical area rather than the arid, true outback.
In first six installments of Survivor had an indigenous culture theme, meaning that challenges, tribe names, etc., were based on names, history and culture of the past and present indigenous occupants of the game's geographic location. However, Survivor: Pearl Islands differed in that they had a pirate theme, with tribe names, challenges, etc. were based off of pirate folklore instead of local indigenous culture.
Tina Scheer was originally selected to participate in "Survivor: Guatemala," but due to the death of her son just before she was about to leave, she stayed home and was allowed on "Survivor: Exile Island" instead.
For the All-Star edition, there are eighteen castaways instead of sixteen, and were divided up into three separate teams. During immunity challenges, the top two tribes were awarded the immunity idol that could be separated into two pieces.
Longtime composer Russ Landau was not approached to compose a new theme for the 28th installment of Survivor, "Survivor: Cagayan." Hence, the season re-used the theme originally composed for season 16 ("Survivor: Micronesia") and the opening credits are abridged and do not show the names of the contestants.
On August 21, 2014 the Motion Picture Editor's Guild (IATSE Local 700) announced it had reached a deal with Mark Burnett's Island Post Productions to unionize after a one day post production crew strike.
5 former players appeared on "The Price is Right" (Mitchell from Australia, Tijuana from Pearl Islands, Lisa from Vanuatu, Rita from Fiji and Aaron from China) either before or after their time on Survivor. All but one won their games, but did not advance past the Showcase Showdown.
Six merged tribes are made of combinations containing the names of their starting tribes: Chuay Jai (Thailand), Chaboga Mogo (All-Stars), Xhakum (Guatemala), Aitutonga (Cook Islands), Solarrion (Cagayan) and Huyopa (San Juan del Sur).
Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of Survivor, was charged and found guilty in January 2006 of failing to report his winnings to the IRS to avoid taxes. He has been sentenced to four years, three months in prison.
Michael Skupin was the first Survivor castaway to leave the game without being voted off. An accident at the campfire resulted in severe burns on his hands which required him to be flown to an Australian hospital.
Mike Skupin is the only player to have been in multiple seasons and never be voted off; he was medically evacuated from his first season (Australian Outback) and reached the Final Tribal Council in his second and last season (Philippines). Sandra Diaz-Twine won her first two reasons and shared this general record before her 3rd try, but in that season she was voted out and did not make the final jury.
Earl Cole was the first Survivor winner to earn a unanimous vote from the jury during the Fiji season. James "J.T." Thomas Jr. also won in a unanimous vote from the Tocantins jury; J.T. also became the first winner ever to get all the votes in a two-person final jury and the first winner to never have a single negative vote against him. Earl Cole, Tom Westman from Palau, and Sandra Diaz-Twine all had one negative vote, with Tom and Sandra's lone negative votes from the final juries.