• Jack Vita

'Survivor's Jay Starrett on 'The Challenge' 36, 'Survivor' 33

Dubbed "The Future of 'The Challenge" in an article written by Jack last week, Jay Starrett visits the Jack Vita Show to discuss his latest run on The Challenge (The Challenge: Double Agents), his rookie season (The Challenge: Total Madness), his time on Survivor 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X), how to prepare for reality television, what life on The Challenge is like, how it compares to life on the island, where his drive and love for competition comes from, what Survivor contestants should go on The Challenge, what's next for him, and so much more!

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Amazon | iHeartRadio | Stitcher | Pandora | TuneIn | Listen Notes | Podtail | Podchaser | Hubhopper | Audio junkie | Himalaya | Podcast Addict | Available wherever podcasts are found.

Check out other Survivor contestants on the Jack Vita Show:

1) Survivor: China contestant Leslie Nease on her Christian faith and reality TV (October 28, 2019)

2) Jonny Fairplay talks "dead grandma" lie, faith, and life after 'Survivor' (February 18, 2020)

3) 'Survivor' Contestant Reem Daly on the 'Edge of Extinction', 'Winners at War', and social distancing (April 6, 2020)

4) Former 'Survivor' contestant Albert Destrade previews ALCS, NLCS (October 12, 2020)

5) 'Survivor's Jay Starrett on 'The Challenge' 36, 'Survivor' 33 (February 13, 2020)

6) What if 18 MLB players competed on 'Survivor'? (Feat. Albert Destrade, 'Survivor: South Pacific') (February 20, 2021)

7) 2021 MLB preview: Survivor's Albert Destrade previews the NL East (March 25, 2021)

8) Survivor: South Pacific's Albert Destrade talks Braves, Cubs, MLB trade deadline, injuries (August 4, 2021)

9) Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick talks 'Survivor', life and Philly sports (September 21, 2021)

10) Orestes Destrade, Albert Destrade recap ALDS, NLDS; preview ALCS, NLCS (October 15, 2021)

11) Survivor: Africa's Teresa "T-Bird" Cooper on Braves, World Series (October 26, 2021)

Follow Jay on Instagram (@jqskim), Twitter (@Jay__Qs), and TikTok (@jqskim), and visit his shop, Stay Loco, and pick up some swag from his new clothing line!


Jack Vita 2:18

This guy came on to The Challenge. He came in hot, and he's done fairly well over the first couple seasons. And he did really well on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. I believe he finished in sixth place. Last week I wrote a piece on him on my website jackvita.com, dubbing him the future of The Challenge. Please welcome Jay Starrett!

Jay Starrett 2:45

What's up! Welcome to the Jack Vita Show. The one, the only, the greatest. First of all, I do want to say, Jack, I did read the article that you wrote about me. It was very long, very in detail. And very, very good. if I do say so myself; probably the best article I've ever read, considering I don't read very many of them. And also the fact is you just crushed it. So thank you so much.

Jack Vita 3:08

Thanks. I really appreciate that Jay, and I hope I didn't misrepresent you. And I didn't want to paint a bigger target on your back for these future seasons that you have potentially coming up.

Jay Starrett 3:20

I don't mind, the target was already on my back anyway, so it's totally fine.

Jack Vita 3:24

So what happened this past season? Was it exactly how the show depicted - we saw the story of what happened - why you got the boot. Was it accurately depicted? Was there more to it? What happened this time around?

Jay Starrett 3:38

Yeah, you know, this season? Um, it was definitely depicted correct. I mean, I know a lot of people always blame editing or they say editing this and they did this. But bro you played your own game, you did what you did, they got it on video, you got caught. It is what it is, like just go with the flow and stop crying over editing and spilled milk. So, um, with me, I messed up cuz I didn't follow my gut. My gut was like, tell Cory and tell Cam. But instead, I went with the other half of my brain that was like, "Hey, man, you're totally fine." Just do whatever you need to do. This is a game at the end of the day. You don't need anyone's permission or an explanation for anything that you're doing. I mean, for a million bucks. You overthink and you overanalyze. So, you know, I just played a little bit aggressive this time, and it was awesome.

Jack Vita 4:34

That's awesome. And that's the thing. It's unfortunate. I feel like you were penalized for playing the game. I mean, you and Leroy were the only two competing in that daily challenge, at least from what we saw on the screen. You were out there competing and you ended up getting penalized for playing the game, and that's why I wrote that piece. You saw how TJ reacted to you and everything that's been going on. They've clearly been upset. It's like tanking in sports. They want people to go out there and be aggressive and give them what they want; go out there and compete. I thought it was emblematic that you and Leroy were really the only two men out there competing, and you got penalized for winning, essentially, because you won the previous challenge. You put blood on your hands from what you did the week before.

Jay Starrett 5:25

Yeah, it was great. Because like, last season, you know, um, I didn't really get to play the political game at all. So last season, I went in, they threw me in, you know, elimination after elimination. So every single time I had to prove myself and they're always like, oh, rookies, got to prove themselves. I'm like, Alright, well, I'm proving myself three times in a row, how many days does it take? And then this season, everyone left me alone. But I got to play a political game, and I finally won one of my first dailies ever, which was a $6,000 win, let's go. And after that, I was like, man, I didn't get to play last season. So why don't I just, you know, start the game really, really aggressive. And then it came back who got me and, you know, I, the first time didn't get to play political had to just win eliminations, the second time, I didn't get to win any eliminations and I just got to play political so hopefully the third time's a charm. If they give me a call back. We both really well, and you know, get a title. And then be a champion of one of the damn shows that I've been.

Jack Vita 6:36

And prove me right to for that matter.

Jay Starrett 6:39

Yes. Because your article is on point. I even had to look something up because you compared me to the newest, one of the best draft picks for the quarterbacks. I forgot his name. That's right, Trevor Lawrence. Yeah, he looks like Sunshine from Remember the Titans. I go to my room and ask my roommate. And I'm like, "Hey, man, who's this football player?" So I started doing like research on him. I was like, "he compared me this guy." And then I checked him out. I was like, wow, you are giving me huge props?

Jack Vita 7:09

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I meant it, I wouldn't have, you know, to be fair, I wouldn't write anything overly critical and negative of anybody on my side. That's not what I do here with with my brand. But, I mean, I watched that episode. And it was very much - even though you were out - it felt like they were really elevating you and building you up. So I'm glad you came out of it with a lot of positive feelings.

Jay Starrett 7:33

Oh, man, you know, I take these shows as a blessing because I have the opportunity to go out there and compete. And a lot of people wish that they could go out there, they wish that they could continue competing. After you go on Survivor, usually that's it, unless they give you a call back. And I got lucky and blessed enough, from the universe and God, or whatever everyone believes in, to get to go back and compete. I'm so grateful, you know, because I get to continue, I get to continue competing. I love doing this. I'm an adrenaline junkie. So doing this stuff, like they're like, "Jay, hang off the helicopter." I'm like, "Alright, let's go."

Jack Vita 8:15

Now, you had mentioned you're not a big sports fan. Did you grow up playing sports?

Jay Starrett 8:21

So growing up, we always played backyard sports. I was never like, in team sports in high school. I was always at the beach going skimboarding or going skating down parking garages and running from security guards. And like, you know, just getting into trouble basically, I was always just doing my own thing. So I didn't get too involved with sports in high school. But I mean, I did. I was on the swim team. I did play like, you know, little league for pretty much every sport, but backyard sports was always my thing. There's no coach to be like, "you can't fight after that play."

Jack Vita 9:04

Well, you you mentioned skating and skimboarding. I gave that little plug at the beginning. Did you ever watch Rocket Power as a kid?

Jay Starrett 9:11

Oh, what? The shoebies are still on the beach. I love Rocket Power. That was that was the show, man.

Jack Vita 9:18

I got a sign over here on the other side of my room. It says "no shoebies".

Jay Starrett 9:21

Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. I think it was like three years ago. I worked at a bar. And some of the some of the bartender's were like, my friend, Carly. She was Chucky from Rugrats, and then I was Otto Rocket. And this girl I was talking to you at the time. She was Reggie from Rocket Power. So we crushed it,

Jack Vita 9:44

I was thinking that as I was doing this plug, I'm like, "Oh my gosh, J could have been one of those Rocket Power kids if he was growing up in California."

Jay Starrett 9:52

For sure. But I grew up in Florida. So a lot of people in Florida are just like, "You're from California, right?" I was like, "No." And then when I moved to California, everyone was like, "Where are you from? Are you from here? You're confused."

Jack Vita 10:06

Where does the love for competition that you have come from?

Jay Starrett 10:11

Probably just my family man, like growing up, we always played a lot. I mean, I just played a lot of board games and a lot of card games, you know, you don't want to lose, we're all Spanish and just, you want to win, and then the whole family's against you. And we're all just talking crap about each other, like, you're gonna lose this game of spades real quick, and then just backyard sports with our friends. You always want to just go out there and give it your all. And that's the same thing with like, if you're longboarding down a garage, it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. You're doing it. If you fall, or you eat it, it's on you, because you messed up. So when I go into these challenges, too, it's like, as much as people like to blame other people for things that they're doing, at the end of the day, I lost to Leroy. Leroy didn't beat me, I lost to myself because I didn't go fast enough to beat his time. So the only other time probably is like, you know, even a hall brawl. But even then, if you're faster on your feet, if he hits you and rocks you and you're just faster running out - Nelson almost got Fessy the very first round, but then the second round, you know, because he was like, "Well, I'm just gonna make sure you don't get up."

Jack Vita 11:26

Right. So speaking of this season, what was it like preparing for your second time around? Did you have a feel for how you should be getting ready for this thing? And then you also had COVID complicating the matter as well?

Jay Starrett 11:41

Yeah, the first season I went on, I was training, going to the gym, going to the rock climbing gym, you know, just basic, normal life. I thought, "Alright, I'll just train normal and I should be alright." Got out there, and it was the first daily, I'll never forget. They're like, "Alright, you got to tug on this huge crate, before TJ runs over with a tank. And it's 100 yards out and I'm like, that should be no problem. I grab the rope. start pulling. I'm like, "Oh my god, am I gonna go home my very first day? No. I need to bulk up. I need to eat more. I need to really take this seriously, because it is a hard game like Survivor." So training for the second season, it was like, "I gotta get serious. I got to start running. I really got to start getting my cardio up." I started getting a lot stronger. Because my cardio has always been good, but just getting stronger in general, lifting heavier weights. I'm now coming off my second season, I went straight into the gym. So I had to really take it serious. And I really went for it and was training like two to three times a day. So it was good. It was worth it.

Jack Vita 13:43

And that was during COVID. Right?

Jay Starrett 13:45

Yeah, so super easy to train because no one's bothering you. No one's like," Hey, man, I got a party next week."

Jack Vita 13:57

In terms of sending you out there you go out to Iceland, what were the COVID protocols? How did it differ from last season in terms of getting ready and getting out there?

Jay Starrett 14:07

I mean, last season, you just got on a plane and started playing. This time was we had to quarantine. They had to test you. We had to make sure that everything is good to go. And we quarantined and we got tested every other day. So it was great. And you always felt safe. And then coming back to the real world. You know, you're seeing people and you're not accustomed to like people wearing masks all the time now because you're out in Iceland, quarantined with your bubble. And then coming back, you're like, wow, I need to be careful. I can't just hang out with whoever I want. Because on the show, you're all safe. You all know you're COVID-negative. So you're fine.

Jack Vita 14:51

Yeah, that's really interesting. I hadn't thought about that.

Jay Starrett 14:55


Jack Vita 14:56

So what did you think of Iceland?

Jay Starrett 14:58

Absolutely beautiful. That was one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been to so far. And I saw the Aurora lights, I saw like cliffs; it was like every two miles was a different kind of waterfall like hundreds of feet and you're like, "Wow, I wish I could climb that."

Jack Vita 15:28

How do you guys pass the time on the show when you're not working out? Because that's the only thing we see. We see the workout and we see the little bubble that you have for the cocktail hour.

Jay Starrett 15:37

Oh, yeah. So we we just kick it. Create games. Think of fun games and read. Big T is always performing some song and she's so funny. Big T is hilarious. So if you can ever get her on here that would be great. She's hilarious. Oh, yeah. We have cards. You know, chess. I was playing chess a lot with Devin and Casey and Darrell. I was really good at chess and Devin's really good at chess. We had a bet that I won, so now he has to fly me out to Boston this summer, which is great. Yeah, so it's just a good all around time. We just, you know, try to kick it as much as possible. And then whenever you're stressed out, go workout.

Jack Vita 16:18

So how did that differ from how you would pass time on the island on Survivor?

Jay Starrett 16:26

We got board games, we got cards. In the house on The Challenge, you can't really escape. You're trapped, and you're surrounded by the other challengers all the time, so you get annoyed. But on Survivor, when people are just talking about food too much, or they're just getting on your nerves, or you have no alliance members left and no one wants to talk to you - you'd just grab the spear and go fishing. I loved fishing, man, because the reef was absolutely beautiful. And then at the same time going out there and being able to just basically quiet the mind. Just literally be quiet because you can't hear anything underwater and just have to be with nature. And then also be hyper-focused, because you know, you're dragging 15 dead fish on your belt and then you know that there's gonna be a shark eventually gonna show up and be like, I'm coming for the for the blood.

Jack Vita 17:24

So how'd you end up on Survivor? How'd you figure out that's something you wanted to do?

Jay Starrett 17:29

So Survivor, I used to watch with my aunt. So my aunt was a super fan of the show. And she was absolutely obsessed with Malcolm. And she thought Malcolm was one of the best players. And she's like, "Hey, you remind me of Malcolm, you should apply for the show. They're casting right now. I saw a commercial for it." And then it was a perfect timing in my life, because I just got my house. Everything was good. My mom's health was pretty good. So it was it was just the right moment. I hit up a friend and I was like, "Hey, man, can you help me make a tape real quick? Just like record me and let's edit it and send it in." Next thing I know, we send in the tape. It was like two weeks later, I get a phone call. "Hey, this is a casting director for Survivor. We saw your tape, we loved it. We'd love to have you on the show!" And I thought it was one of my friends. And I was like, "Nah, brah whatever. Stop messing with me. It's whatever." And they're like, "No, we're serious." And there was more curse words than just whatever. Trust me.

Jack Vita 18:29

Well done there.

Jay Starrett 18:33

Yeah, it was really key. I'm helping you out. So then they were like, "Well, if you keep doing this, 'whatever' thing, we're just gonna hang up.: And I was like, "Are you for real? This is for real CBS? Like, this is Survivor? And they're like, yeah, and I'm like, "oh my god. Alright, I'm so sorry. Let's get it." Next thing I know, they're flying me out to California to do some meet and greets and go through the casting process and I was alternate on Kaoh Rong for the season that Michelle Fitzgerald won. They flew me out to Cambodia, and I waited for someone to get hurt or sick or something so I could play. No one did, so they sent me home and I was like wow, that's it. Then I got addicted to it. Made another tape send that back in. I was like, "hey, you're not getting rid of me. I really want to play now. I've tasted it." It's like giving a drug addict drugs. You give him the drug, then he's like "I need more." So I was like alright, well I need to feel that rush again. So then they flew me back out and the next thing I know, I'm in Fiji with Taylor and Figgy and the fantastic four over there, and Adam is pissing me off every day.

Jack Vita 19:53

Guys, for those of you who are not watching this video feed and listening the audio stream, Jay just made a face 20 minutes in, like, "Why did I go on a PG rated podcast?"

Jay Starrett 20:03

No, no, I did not. I was more like, how can I make it PG-rated? On MTV, they give me a lot of freedom. I gotta go back to my CBS roots.

Jack Vita 20:19

Your season was a great season. Millennials vs. Gen X is in my opinion, the last great Survivor season.

Jay Starrett 20:31

Oh, wow. Thank you so much. Yeah, I loved our season because there was a lot of story, there was a lot of love. There was a lot of friendship. There was a lot going on and that season, not just like with me and Adam, and but like, you know, you got to see a lot of players. So it was great. Like Sunday, you know, I love Sunday. She's battling cancer right now. And she's a warrior and a true survivor, in every sense of the word. So, shout out to my Fiji mom. Michaela was also another strong competitor; I had to get rid of her. But you know, she's a beast. A lot of people don't know, like, once I once I voted her out, I felt terrible after because me and her were really good friends. We talked about a lot of things, but I knew if she made it to the end, she was definitely one of the people that could be me, along with David Wright. But I'm just happy. You know, Adam got the win. And everything that happened with his family after it's okay, so that's life, you know, so I'm good.

Jack Vita 22:15

They really were able to zoom in on your friendship with Adam, which I thought was awesome. It was like, these two guys are like brothers, they hate each other, but they have respect for each other. What do you gotta say about Adam?

Jay Starrett 22:30

He's a good dude, man. I have no no bad words, no bad intentions toward the guy. He's still a good friend of mine. He's out here in California. So we talk all the time. He'll call me after like Challenge episode. He'll be like, "Oh, my God, I can't believe this happened, or this political thing, or this person." And we talk a lot about the gameplay. So it's good because I get another perspective from his side of gameplay. It helps me realize a lot of things and helps me strategize and figure stuff out. And he always has insight because he watches every single show. So for me, I'm like, "Hey Adam, who's this person from the show?" And he's like, "Oh, they did this and this and that, and this.". I was like, "Thank you for all the cliff notes. I don't need to watch the whole season."

Jack Vita 23:16

What did you think of him on Winners at War?

Jay Starrett 23:19

I think he did a terrible job. I called him. I was like, "Yo, what are you doing, man? You're everywhere right now." And he's like, "I know, man, I really messed up. I really messed up." But I was proud of Michelle Fitzgerald. I'm also very close with her. And she did great. I thought that they were going to be you know, in a tighter alliance, but he was just flip-flopping back and forth everywhere. So shout out to him. He thought it was the best moves at the time. I can't judge anybody by the moves that they make. I've made some silly mistakes where, you know, the whole house voted me into a challenge against Leroy. And that's what happens.

Jack Vita 24:03

Right. Yeah, that tribal council, where you and Taylor were just riling up Adam. That one I think is one of the most underrated tribal councils of all time. I've seen every season, I've seen every episode, and that one is one that my sister and I reference all the time because it's something she does to me all the time. It was like you guys were his siblings. Can you tell that story of what exactly happened with that food jar and Adam, for those that watch The Challenge and don't know what happened on Survivor?

Jay Starrett 24:36

So Taylor actually would in the middle of the night - I had no idea about this until like the day of tribal council - was taking food, hiding it in jars and then burying it under the sand. And he had a special way of burying it, which was footprints of how to get there and where to find it. So it was a really good treasure. What I didn't know is that then I found out later when Taylor's like, "Hey, we're gonna have our last feast." And I'm like, "What are you talking about last feast? Like, there's no food." And he's like, "No, I got food." And I was like, "What?" So we go. We unbury this treasure chest. He's got jars, there was multiple jars. He had one jar left, he opens it. He's like, "Hey, man, have some." I couldn't even eat because it was after the merge. My stomach was messed up. So I was having the ginger roots. And I was like, "Whatever, I'll eat the ginger roots." Everyone else ate all the food I couldn't eat. So whatever. And then I was like, "But dude, like, we can't be hiding food. This isn't good. And if someone finds out, we're in deep trouble." And then he's like, "Oh, Adam already knows." And I'm like, "Wait, what?" So Adams been eating it too. And then we get so tribal, and Adam's out there. And he's like, "I didn't have any of the food." And I was like, "Yeah, but you knew that he had the food." I didn't have any food. either. I had the ginger. I didn't lie. And then we're all just bantering between each other. We're like, "No, man, you knew because we were trying to flip it to be on him." But at that point, Taylor was like, "No, Jay, you ate the food too." And I'm like, "Oh my God. Now it's getting on me too. So at this point, Taylor, just shut up. Just shut up. We're in trouble." And next thing you know, Taylor was the one on the block that night, so thank God it wasn't me. I got a little further but didn't pull the W.

Jack Vita 26:28

You guys made Adam explode at tribal council though.

Jay Starrett 26:37

I love it. I love it's one of my favorite things is to piss him off.

Jack Vita 26:46

I can picture it. He seems like it'd be easy to mess with.

Jay Starrett 26:49

Oh, yeah. Especially for me. I don't know what it is. But as soon as I hit a button on it, he's like, "Alright, I hate Jay!"