'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!
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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)
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)
7) 2021 MLB preview: Survivor's Albert Destrade previews the NL East (March 25, 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)
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!"
Jack Vita 27:08
So good. But what was cool about your season is that it launched you to The Challenge. Unfortunately, you haven't been back on Survivor. It also launched Bret and Chris to The Amazing Race. So you had some guys going doing spin-off shows.
Jay Starrett 27:22
Yeah. We weren't a one and done, which is great. I loved seeing Bret and Chris on The Amazing Race. The scene where Chris carried Bret's backpack as they're running. And it's one of my favorite things. Chris Hammons, I talked to him last week because I played a prank on him on the phone. I called him and I was like, "Hey, man, I'll call you right back." And he's like, "What? You called me?" But I was talking to him that day. I called him back. And he's like, "Oh, man, I'd love to go on The Challenge. I want to go in a hall brawl." If Chris Hammonds actually made it onto The Challenge and put them in a hall brawl, he would mess these dudes up. And he's like," I'd be the youngest rookie to ever play The Challenge and the baddest rookie to ever play The Challenge." I told him, "You're 100% right. But you would also be the oldest rookie to ever play The Challenge."
Jack Vita 28:14
Holy smokes. Oh my gosh. I mean, you got Lolo Jones on here. You got Leo Rush. You got these pro athletes. Chris Hammonds, and he played college football. He played college football at Oklahoma. He'd crush it.
Jay Starrett 28:28
Yeah, he would.
Jack Vita 28:30
He would. And he's What? 40 something? And he'd still do it.
Jay Starrett 28:34
No. Yeah, he'd crush it. Yeah, I still would not want to go against him in a hall brawl. No shot. He's huge.
Jack Vita 28:41
How about Bret, would you go against Bret in a hall brawl?
Jay Starrett 28:43
Oh, yeah, I'd love to. I would mess with him.
Jack Vita 28:49
How would you compare the difficulty of the challenges on Survivor when you're malnourished, to the challenges on The Challenge when you're not malnourished?
Jay Starrett 29:05
They're both a test of mental toughness. Because on Survivor, you know, you're completely malnourished and you're literally depleting all energy and you're slowly slowing down. But the adrenaline sometimes can keep you going. And you're not stuck there as long as you are on The Challenge. Luckily, we don't all just pass out immediately. Whereas if you were malnourished, like we are on Survivor, and then had to do like a mini-final like like I had to do on The Challenge. There's no shot of doing that. Within like half a mile, you're done. So they're their own beasts, which is great because on Survivor, you get to push your body to the ultimate form of depletion and then see what you can do there. And then on The Challenge, you get to push your body to your highest physical self, if you prepared correctly, or at least get as close to your highest physical self as you can and then get to see how far you can push it, with the strength that you've gained and with the talent or skill that you have with whatever you're doing
Jack Vita 30:09
In terms of social politics, how would you compare those two shows? I mean, are they the same strategically? Or is it different? Because you're, you know these people before you go out there. Is it like all-star Survivor?
Jay Starrett 30:21
So luckily, with The Challenge, you get to study some of these people. I know that Wes is a strategist. I know that Cory and Nelson don't strategize as much as others. I know that Johnny Bananas runs the show most of the time. I know that CT, you just don't go into elimination against CT.
Jack Vita 30:43
But you did it. You did it.
Jay Starrett 30:45
I know, and I pulled out the win, thank God. The night before, I was like, "CT, thank you so much for the honor, because I know you're coming down tomorrow, but at the same time, oh, my God." On Survivor, you just show up on an island, you don't know anyone, they could be lying about everything. And there's no way for you to know, because Bret was telling me he was a mortician the whole time. But I knew he was a cop. And I was like, "Hannah, keep bugging him. I know, he's a cop, he's gonna pop soon. And you know, it's crazy the difference and the political game on Survivor. It's mainly because of the players. Sometimes on The Challenge, you have really strong athletes that are really bad at social politics. And then on Survivor, everyone is good at politics, because that's why they're on the show. Like, you don't need to be a savage athlete to be on the show. Like you have moms, and you have older people, and you have dads and you have people that could be out of shape, or young guns that are like, you know, fully in shape, but terrible at politics. You can have all sorts of mixes of people on on Survivor, whereas on The Challenge, you know that they're all athletes, because they're casting athletes. But you don't know how their political game is. So on Survivor, it's like, bring your brain game because that is about to be serious.
Jack Vita 32:11
So how much of getting ready for The Challenge involves just having these social bonds and these ties going into the show? How valuable is that compared to building those bonds while you're actually there?
Jay Starrett 32:23
Oh, so much, so. So much so I never realized before. But, you know, I lasted double the time on my second season of The Challenge, because I had met those people already. Whereas the first time I didn't know anyone, I just knew Nelson basically. And Josh. And going in was like walking into a wolves' den where they're like, Jay, every time just throwing me up. And then the second time everyone's like, alright, Jay beat CT last time, he beat some of us last time. He didn't have anyone, he had no numbers.. And he still survived, you know, a few episodes in. And then this time he has friends now. We know that he's good at eliminations. He's good at challenges. I also wanted to do that too. Where this time I trained hard enough to come back and not just be like," Hey, man, I'm a lamb throw me to the wolves whenever." Instead, it was like, I got second place in one of the dailies in my first one. I got first place in the mini final. I'm competing, and I'm beating you like pulling up the rope faster than all the bigger guys on the thing. So I wanted them to know, like, oh, Jay might seem smaller than us. Even though I'm like a normal sized human. They're large.
Jack Vita 33:36
How tall are you, Jay, 5-10?
All right. We're the same size. 5-10, 170. Average person.
Jay Starrett 33:43
Yeah. Whereas Fessy. He's like six foot four, I think and like 240 pounds, and he's like, "Alright, I'll see you in the hall, bro." I'm like, "Great. They don't even do this in MMA, but great. I'm down." And, you know, I want to go in there and compete and push myself to the limits and see exactly what I can do.
Jack Vita 34:06
I think the skull twist has worked against you, because you've been someone last season - Iit's like, "Oh, yeah, we'll just go against 'skinny Jay'. He's an average sized person. I'll go up against him this season." It's like the people who want to throw themselves in, they're really putting themselves at risk, but you got to get it. Whereas there are some of these other people that are playing a more conservative game, they're keeping it a little closer to the vest. They know they're going to get that chance. And so I feel like as it's set up, it's not really rewarding the people that they were expecting it to when they made the twist to reward the people that go in there and toughen up and just throw their hat in the ring.
Jay Starrett 34:45
Yeah, I mean, it's a double edged sword. I love it because it makes people have to go down. You can't just play a political game. Now you have to play a political game with a physical game. It's great because then it gives the physical people who don't have a political game a chance, and it also gives the political game people - it makes them have to prove themselves. So, you know, it's perfect for both ends. And for me, you know, the first season wasn't in my favor, because if they only had the twist where it's like you win a gold school, you're safe for at least a week, that would have been nice. But it is what it is, man, I love it. So, send me down into the thing. Let's go compete and if that means I get to do one more challenge ahead of you. And I get to more more adrenaline and more experience and more. You know, what does that Yeah, more experience? Because like, when am I ever gonna hang upside down by my wrists and ankles, shackled to a bar that's on fire or whatever. And like, scoot down and scoot back. I'll never get to practice that, like you don't go home and you're like, Oh, you know, I got an idea. I'm gonna practice this because next season, they might have that. Now it's like, man, I almost had Leroy so you don't want to see me now. And I know how it works now.
Jack Vita 36:01
Yeah, for sure. Well, last season, they gave you a lit fireball to hold with your hands.
Jay Starrett 36:09
I used to do that as a kid. So I wasn't too scared. But at the same time, I was like, "This is a big flame. I didn't have a big flame like this as a kid. You just have the axe can and spray and make a flame thrower or whatever. Yeah. No, the fireball. I was like, "Oh my god. If Rogan pushes my face and says ball, I'm gonna burn my face. Is it worth it? Holy crap. Lights out."
Jack Vita 36:32
Yeah, unfortunate how that played out, but you're just getting started here, hopefully. So with Survivor, you went on that show and it aired in 2016. And then you came back on Ex on the Beach two years later, I want to say, in 2018 .So what were you up to in the time between when you first got off reality television to getting back on reality television, what did you do?
Jay Starrett 36:58
Man, I got a job. I got off Survivor, went back to Florida. I just bought my house. So I had to pay bills, got a mortgage and got a job bartending and doing real estate. And then I was like, "Alright, this is cool. I like bartending. This is fun hanging out with my friends, doing my thing." It was cool to be on TV, and have people come up to me at the bar and be like, "Yo, you're Jay from survivor, right? And I'm like, "Yo, that's crazy. Man, I want that feeling again, that like unknown." So I hit up Adam, and I was like, "Hey, man, I want to move to LA. Do you want to be my roommate? Let's go." And he's like, "Yeah." Next thing I know, I moved to LA and then a month later into LA, Ex on the Beach gives me a call. They're like, "Hey, you want to go on Ex on the Beach? And I was like, "That's MTV, isn't it?" And they're like, "Yeah, we got this new MTV show." They didn't even tell me it was Ex on the Beach. And I'm like, "Alright, if I get on this show, then maybe if they liked me enough, they'll move me to The Challenge, which is another show I've always wanted to do." And then I was like, "Alright, I'll give it a try. Let's go." And then I went, next thing you know, the rest is history. And I was blessed.
Jack Vita 38:18
So they they sought you out. You didn't seek them out?
Jay Starrett 38:21
Ex on the Beach? No, they hit me up. They didn't even tell me it was Ex on the Beach. They were just like, "Hey, have you ever had any past relationships?" I was like, "Yeah, I mean, I'm seeing this girl Morgan from Big Brother. And they're like, oh, okay, let's hit her up. And then the next thing you know, I'm in Malibu, and they're like, "Hey, Morgan. This is your ex Jay, and I'm like, "Oh, okay. This is what we're doing."
Jack Vita 38:48
Yeah, to be honest, I did not watch that show. Did I miss anything?
No, not at all.
So you're, you're a huge Challenge fan.
Jay Starrett 38:58
I love The Challenge.
Jack Vita 38:59
Yeah. How'd you fall in love with it?
Jay Starrett 39:02
Watching the challenges. Honestly, watching Derrick Kosinski. He was the smallest dude. He's like, I don't know 5-8, 5-7 or something. I don't know how tall he is. But he's the smallest dude and he's putting up the biggest fight. Watching CT almost kill Adam in the house. Watching the "Bananas backpack." Watching Alton run up the cargo net. Like there's so many. When Dave Mirra was the host it was the show. And you were watching Wes pole-wrestle and stuff. I was obsessed. I love the challenge aspect of it; the drama was alright. But the challenges themselves, I was like, "Damn, I wish I could try that. I wish I could do that. I want to go out there." And then when I applied for Survivor, I was like, well, there's challenges on Survivor too. So I'll get to experience that at least a little bit. So let me go compete. And then next thing you know now I'm looking down at hall brawls like, "Please don't be me, please don't be me."
Yeah, back then there had been no path from non-MTV shows to get on to The Challenge. So I have to think you never thought that would ever happen.
No, and even for, for me, I was the first Survivor to cross-over, ever, to MTV. So once I crossed over to Ex on the Beach, I was like, "Alright, dope." And then the next thing I know, I'm the second Survivor, but the first American Survivor to ever make it on The Challenge. Turbo is first as far as Survivor's concerned. So shout outs to Turbo; he is an animal. But yeah, man, I was like, "Wow, I paved a way, like I made a way. I don't know how I did it. Thank God. And then the next thing I know, now Natalie's on with me, and I'm like, let's go." I need more Survivors. Like Big Brother has their clan; Survivor's got to have their clan. Let's show these people what's up and let's have a battle. You know, we starve ourselves. And we go battle on an island with no food, no, nothing. And we're still standing. And you know, you guys have been getting drunk for a while. So let's do that.
I think there's a lot there with Survivor. I actually wrote a piece a couple months ago about some people from Survivor that they could put on The Challenge. And I was getting so many responses to it. They're like, "Oh, you forgot about this person. And this person and this person." I'm like, "You're right." These Survivor contestants, I think are cut from that cloth of like the old school challengers, at least, at least the ones they picked - you and Natalie and I think there's some more that they could pick and put on there.
Oh, I agree. I love Natalie's competition within her. She's a savage. That girl says she wants to win. She wants to compete. She wants to battle; she's not scared. Like, if you say her name, you know, she's gonna come back for you. If you throw her down to elimination, she has a high chance of winning. So she's one of the strong girls and hopefully they'll invite her back and we'll see her again because I'd love to play with her again. And I'm so proud of her, to even come in and like, first day, you know, first day they did exactly to her what they did to me. It's like, "Oh, you're from Survivor? You're brand new? We'll throw you down there. First elimination is a Survivor champ versus an MTV champ. And Natalie was like, "Alright, let's go." No fear. No, nothing. She pulls the W, sends Ashley home and I'm like, "We're here, baby. Let's go."
Who would you like to see from Survivor make that leap?
Oh, my God, a bunch of people. I mean, I was talking to Michele Fitzgerald. like three days ago. Wendell Holland, I was talking to him. Last week. Again. I pulled a prank on him. Woo (Hwang) hit me up and he's like, "Hey, man, let's skate the Venice bowl. And if you ever need more friends.." I was like, "Alright!" But there's a bunch, like Chris Hammons. I want to see him in the hall brawl.
How about Rodney?
Oh, Rodney is a beast! There's so many man. There's so many. It's like endless.
Michaela's a savage. You know, I love her. Like the list can go on and on forever.
I think they're onto something here. There have been over 500 Survivor contestants. Now you're not going to cast like Boston Rob now. He's just gonna go out there at age 45. Not the same Rob we know from when he was younger. And I love Boston. Rob. But he's married. He has four kids. He's not leaving. But there's so many good ones I think they could get out there.
Oh, definitely. Yeah. And all of them are, you know, savages. Because when you go live on an island, with one pair of clothes, that's different from going into a house and like having a whole backpack.
Jack Vita 4:39
So were you in good with the Big Brother alliance going into the season?
Jay Starrett 4:43
Yeah, so I actually made a pregame alliance with Josh which, you know, you see crumble within the show because of his own insecurity. But, um, Kaycee was cool. Fessy, he was a rookie with me on my first season. Kaycee was a rookie as well. So we we had a bond. I wanted to see Swaggy and Bayleigh come back because they also bonded with me, but they didn't. Swaggy's doing big things right now too. But I had a pregame alliance with them; I talked with West from last season. CT, I hadn't talked to him since I beat him. So I was like, "I wonder how that's going to go coming back. But he was cool when the first season when I beat him, and you know, seeing him the second season, he's just like, "Oh, hey, Jay, what's up? How you been?" I'm like, "Good, man. How are you?" And it was so cool. It was chill. And then you know, Big T, I made a relationship with her. So it was way easier once you have a relationship coming into the house. So to have friends is a blessing in that house, because if you don't, you know that you're the sacrificial lamb.
How are you and Josh now? You guys make up?
Jay Starrett 5:52
I haven't talked to Josh since the show. So...
Alright. I've heard with Josh, that he is someone that people really gravitate towards when they meet him in person. Jonny Fairplay actually was talking about this recently. Fairplay couldn't stand him on TV; met him in person, really fun guy to be around.
Yeah, you know, the first time I met Josh was at a Hearts of Reality event. And he was super hung over and I saved him because he was about to miss the bus. So I saved him. And then on the first season of The Challenge, he was upset, and I was like, "Yo, man, just chill, chill." I kind of talked him out of, you know, just like losing this control. And then, you know, this time around with him. He just blew up. And I was like, "Man, this is so dumb. Like, our plan to come in here was for me to be a double agent legitimately." And then it's funny that they named the show Double Agents, because I was like, I'm gonna come in. I'm gonna pretend like I'm in alliance with everyone. And I'll come back with inside information for you, Kaycee, Fessi, and Nelson and Cory, and, you know, whoever else is involved, Natalie, and like, try to make sure we're always good. Next thing, you know, this person's losing their mind, this person is losing their mind. Then I find trust in another person. I'm like, I trust Teresa. Like fully. She's got my back. You can even see she even battled it out for me towards the end. So she's a cool chick. But yeah, just to see that I was like, "This is such a down move. Like, honestly."
How did you and Teresa end up picking each other? How did you come to that decision to team up with her?
So when TJ said to pick our partners, I turn around and Amber B is standing right there. And she looks at me and she's like, "Yeah, let's be partners." And I'm like, "Yeah, you're super hot. But no, I'm not going to be partners with you. Because you're a rookie, and I'm still kind of a rookie. I'm not going through that again." I turn around. I need someone with more relationships in the show. Teresa's standing there, and she looks at me and she's like, and I'm like, "Yeah, perfect. You're an OG. You have relationships with everyone: Aneesa. Wes CT, like, you know, everyone, perfect. They're not going to throw you in right away. They'll throw in a rookie before they throw you in. So I'll have your back. Let's go." And it was perfect.
Yeah, she's fun to watch. I hope she does a few more of these.
Oh she's a great player. She is a great player. I think she's, like one of the best. Like she's really friggin good.
Yeah, she stirs the pot pretty well, too. And keeps it interesting.
I'm a fan as well, and watching the show, and like she did all that.
As a Challenge super fan, what was something that really surprised you once you got on the showm versus what you had seen from the show?
You know, when you see the show, it's like really action-packed. And some of the players you're like, "Yeah, he's huge." Or you know a lot of those things. Where you just get on here like, they're just regular people. There's no there's no like, "Oh my gosh", like, it's just like, "Yo, what's up?" And I know when I beat CT, like I made it weird, and I'm always gonna make it weird. What's up baby? But it's just normal. It's just normal competitors.
Yeah, kind of like entering the Survivor world too in that way, right? Because you and I both got phone calls from T-bird (Teresa) Cooper recently, and she's someone that I watched on Survivor: Africa. She was awesome. She almost came back a second time. And T-bird is the most normal, friendly, kindest person there is.
Yeah. And you realize like, these are just all regular people and you know, some people are nicer than others and some people aren't. But at the end of the day, I'm just there to compete and have some fun.
Why do the MTV people hate Big Brother so much?
I don't even think they hate Big Brother. I just think that they love pushing Josh's buttons.
That make sense.
Yeah because Devin's like, "Oh, Big Brother sucks." And Josh really takes it to heart. And he's like, "Don't say that. Big Brother doesn't suck." And then he gets so mad. And it's like, if I had ammo like that, I would totally - like if Adam was on the show, and I was screaming, "Survivor sucks!" he's probably going to lose his mind, and I'm definitely going to keep on flaming that fire because it's going to get under his skin. He might do something stupid, and hits you, and then they're voted out and you're one step closer to a million dollars.
Adam voice: "Stop it Jay! Survivor doesn't suck!"
Oh, that's hilarious. Oh, man. Devin's a cool dude?,
Devin is one of the funniest people I've met in that house so far. And he's very smart. And he's very good at chess.
Jay, you were very emotional when you got sent home on this past season. You were tearing up. You've mentioned that this money could really make a big difference for you. Would you like to elaborate on that?
Yeah, I own a house. It's expensive. I mean, it's a million dollars, man. A million dollars to change your life. In two seconds, you get a million dollars, you invest it correctly. Your life is different. You know, you don't have to. I mean, as much as people like to say you don't have to work as hard. A million dollars isn't gonna help you retire nowadays. So it'll help you get a start to retirement and children. You'll be able to be like, "Alright, I'll pop a couple kids out and sit on the beach and chill. But I'm not ready for any of that by the way. No kids, not yet.
But yeah, I mean a million dollars would help my family, help me pay for my house, pay my house off, buy my mom her own place. It helps out everyone and also, I'm an emotional dude. And I play the game with a lot of heart and I give it my all. I cried on Survivor. I cried on Ex on the Beach. I cried on The Challenge. It's alright, cry. I don't care. It's alright to cry over things that actually matter. I'm not just going to like, cry over nothing. But you know, just being done with the show. You get off and your adrenaline's coming down, you're finally realize like, "Okay, I'm off the show, I got eliminated. It's a lot to digest at once, where a lot of people don't understand, like, you're in a house, you can't show stress, and so on, like, your game is on, you know, there's nights that I don't sleep that, you know, I don't know if they showed it or not, but like, I'm up in my bed in the Challenge house scheming, like, "Alright, if this happens, this can happen." And it's like, you can't even sleep because you're like, worrying about that.
And when you get off, you realize, like, all the stress levels are kind of just like, you can show it now. Everything's okay. And now you're just back to normal, where it's like, "Hey, I can get Chipotle if I want, like, do anything. And yeah, so that's why the tears, but the money you know, I'm always fighting for the money. I'm always trying my absolute best to to also give it my all because I'm also a fan of the show. So when I go on, I want to compete and I don't want to not give it my everything. I don't want to sit back, relax and just be like, "Oh, I'm here for a paycheck." Because I'm not. I'm there to entertain and to look back and watch it as a fan and be like, "Damn, boy, let's go. And then at the same time also win a million bucks. So I can come back and be like, "Hey, sister, what kind of car you want? Mom's house is paid. You want another one? Like, you know, I want to be able to invest it correctly.
Yeah, that's what I fight for. So that's why it's emotional.
So would you say is your family is a big driving factor for you on the shows?
Oh 100%. My family's the driving factor for my life. Legit. Like, there's nothing else that's more important to me. I will trade everything on this planet for my family, for the people that I love. Nothing matters. Nothing else matters. That's number one and then everything else after that, because I'd give up everything. And it wouldn't even be like a decision to me if someone was like your family or $10 million? My family. Your family or every single one of your dreams ever comes true? And like, Well, then, you know, that's a double edged sword because then that means my family's wealthy with me.
Have you noticed a difference between the Survivor community with the other contestants that go on the show compared to The Challenge community? And similar with the fans? Have you noticed a difference? Or is it pretty much the same?
Luckily, you know, my fans have loved me and shown me a lot of love. Sure, you get a couple trolls here and there. But you know, you always got to meet a troll to cross a bridge.
And like, it's so different because like, Survivor was my first show. That family will always be tight, even though it's different, because The Challenge, they've been doing it for years. They don't need to be your family. On Survivor, you guys all have the opportunity to do it one time and experience it all at the same time. And go through the very first time together. And Challenge like, you know, Wes isn't gonna call me and be like, "Jay Man, what a great season we had. It'll be memorable forever. Come to my kid's birthday party." Like, you know, he'll never be like that. He'll be like, "Alright, it's been five seasons. I mess with you. You're a cool dude. Come on, over, let's hang out. Whereas like Sunday Burquest is like, "Hey, Jay, how are you?" Chris Hammonds is like, "Hey, man, come on down to an Oklahoma Sooners game. And let's hang out. Let's go." That family will always be so much more tight-knit. Whereas The Challenge family, you know, interchanges and they've been connected for so long. But they'll never have like that, that basically like pop-the-cherry experience that we had on Survivor where we all just come in together.
I want to make sure I get all these questions. And I only have a couple more. So I sent some out to the listeners who contact me a lot and talk to me on social media. I said, "What do you guys want to know from Jay?" And I got one question here about Ken, from your season of Survivor. The question was, "Was Ken the way that he was depicted on the show?" And I thought this was a very random question. I wasn't expecting this.
And it's very random question.
Because Ken was a guy that kind of felt like he belonged on one of the real old season of survivor where it seemed he kind of didn't have a whole lot of experience with the show. He was really like a man of mystery. He seemed like he had all kinds of interesting stories.
Yeah, that was Ken from what I remember. I don't even remember what his edit on the show was. He was just a normal dude. You know, did the survival thing, fed people when he could. He wasn't really like a political genius, you know. He wasn't strategizing like David Wright. He wasn't out there making deals like Adam. But he was a beast. Like he competed really well. He was just a normal guy. He was just a good dude. I have no bad thoughts on Kenny, he's a good dude. And he's just chill. That's how you think of Ken like he just chill.
Seems like a fun guy; seems pretty cool.
Yeah, he's a cool dude. He's just a chill, all-around nice guy.
Younger Ken on The Challenge. Can you see that?.
He would love it. Because he loves to compete. Yeah, it was one of the things like I remember when I won the family visit. And he came in second. He was pissed. He was pissed because he's like, "Jay pick me" and I was like, "Bro, I made promises already. I'd love to pick you but I already made promises." But he's like an athlete. Because even when he went in in that challenge, he like broke the log and he's like, "I'm done." I'm like, "Oh, man, that boy is coming."
Have you ever been contacted go back on Survivor? Do you think that ship has sailed? Would you go back?
If survivor called me I'd have to see if I'm even allowed, but if I was allowed and it didn't conflict with anything I would totally play Survivor. I love these games, man. Put me on any. I love competing. If Survivor wants to call, if Big Brother wants to call, if The Challenge calls again, I'm there. I'm there. I love competing. As long as it doesn't mess up anything, I'm good.
Who would you run The Amazing Race with from The Challenge?
Oh, girl or boy, or both?
Theresa, great partner, Natalie Anderson, great partner. From The Challenge, I mean, Cory, Nelson. Wes. Kyle would be funny. Devin would be hilarious.
How about Survivor? You and Adam?
No. We'd be great television, but we would not win. I mean, we might win. But you know, it's funny. Someone hit me up two days ago, and he's like, "Hey, we should do The Amazing Race together" because he's always hitting me up about rock climbing and stuff. And that's Dr. Mike Zahalsky.
I love Dr. Mike. He's the man. So if if I ever got to run the race, and it was with Dr. Mike, you already know there'd be a bunch of - I don't even know if I'm allowed to say that - jokes. Cuz you know what kind of doctor he is.
Yeah. A bunch of jokes about male genitalia, or "Johnsons".
A bunch of Johnson jokes.
Who would be good from The Challenge on Survivor? You think they ever cast someone from there?
You know it's so funny. Like you ask these questions that people are actually telling me like last week, you know, two days ago Dr. Mike's like, "Hey, man, we should get on The Amazing Race together." I'm like, "Alright." Two weeks ago. I remember Cory Wharton. He's like, "Bro, I just watched every season of Survivor. I love this game." And I was like, "Cory Wharton would be great to watch because he's like a muscular guy. But you don't get food out there so I'd love to see him like get hangry, lose weight, and then also, the political game's got to be on point, so if Survivor's listening, cast Cory Wharton. I know he wants to play
That would be awesome. What's next for you, Jay?
You know training. Hopefully The Challenge calls. Hopefully Survivor calls. Hopefully somebody calls. I'm waiting for the phone to ring, and you know, just seeing where the world takes me. Have some fun with it.
Awesome, Jay. Well, is there anything else you'd like to add?
Uh, thank you all for following me. Thank you, Jack, for having me on your show. Thank you, you for tuning in and caring about what's going on in my life. It's awesome. And thank you for the article. It was fantastic. Just keep watching, keep enjoying the challenge and watch any show that I get on and hopefully one day you know, I'll just get my own. We can just do silly stuff.