Brow Beat

For the First Time, Survivor Ejects a Player for Inappropriate Behavior

A shoulders up shot of Dan Spilo, sitting on the beach with the ocean behind him, wearing a red polo shirt, from a Survivor talking head interview.
Dan Spilo, who was ejected from the game. CBS

On Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols, the producers revealed that contestant Dan Spilo was ejected from the game for inappropriate behavior. The audience got the news from a title card that preceded the credits:

Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.

The remaining players—five contestants are still in the running for the show’s $1 million prize—were told that Spilo had been ejected, but not the precise circumstances. Spilo is the first player to be ejected from a game of Survivor in its 39-season run. His behavior around the other contestants had already been the subject of a November episode in which contestant Kellee Kim’s discomfort with unwanted touching from Spilo was leveraged by two other female contestants as part of a plot to advance themselves in the game. Spilo was allowed to continue playing until his ejection this week, two weeks after Kim complained about his behavior.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Survivor host Jeff Probst said that he would be unable to give more details about the incident that resulted in Spilo’s ejection “out of respect for privacy and confidentiality.” Reality TV being reality TV, there’s a whiplash quality to Probst’s answers in the interview, since he is trying to simultaneously reassure viewers that Survivor is not putting its players in any danger, but also that this season is must-watch because it engages so deeply with the critical issues of the day:

It has been an unprecedented season. Complex social issues were woven into the game in a way we have never seen before. With our contestants’ welfare at the forefront, we have spent a lot of time discussing every layer of the situation with human resources, diversity and inclusion representatives, show therapists, lawyers, publicists, and standards and practices. We all worked diligently throughout the entire process to make the right decisions and portray an accurate depiction of what took place. We have learned a lot and it will inform our process moving forward.

Probst said that Spilo was initially unhappy he was being pulled from the game, but had calmed down by the time he left. As for Probst, he is looking to the future. “There is one more visit to the Island of the Idols, and it could change the entire game,” he told EW. “I love finales, and this is a good one!”