Survivor’s last man standing pays high price for TV act
Has coronavirus met its match in the Golden God?
Survivor fans have to ask the question of the model player and season favourite, David Genat who had more trouble surviving Australian Survivor: All Stars, than he did outrunning the virus to make it to the live decider.
Speaking to News Corp Australia in Sydney, where he returned before the US and Australian governments closed their borders to international travel, the normally New York-based father of three was still laughing in the face of his latest challenge for 10's blockbuster reality series.
After a brutal final four decider last week - which saw Genat beat challenge beast Brooke Jowett to immunity, ensuring her elimination - the 35-year-old was still counting the physical cost this season has taken on his bruised and broken body.
First appearing on the season of Challengers v Contenders last year, the charismatic alpha male admits he was "pretty destroyed" by the end of filming All Stars in Fiji.
"Season four I escaped injuries somehow, I was fine, but the severe weight loss the first time, then having the bulk back up for All Stars and going in there a bit heavier than I normally am, it was really insane on my body."
"Day one I ended up with 10 stitches on my leg, after [former NRL star] Mat Rogers threw an errant piece of wood that caught me on the shin.
With no emergency room in sight, he says "there was literally stitches on the beach and I'm back in the game."
So battered was he and "bleeding out into my shoes completing that first challenge" he says, "I actually considered pulling out right then and there, I thought it was too much … I just thought maybe I should call it quits.
But with one shot in three at convincing a jury of his Survivor peers to award him the $500,000 prize money - challenged only by barrister, Sharn Coombs and former AFLW player, Moana Hope - he's "really glad" he found the fortitude to go on.
Even though it meant more serious injury, he adds.
"I dislocated my kneecap, and in turn because of the kneecap, I ruptured the LCL on my right leg. I don't know if it's being in the fight or flight situation for so long … but you honestly stop feeling pain in a way, I'm serious."
Add to that a chest infection and five spider bites, including one to his money maker face and another which turned into an abscess on his butt, and Genat, if crowned the winner will have earned his money the hard way.
There's no doubt Genat has played it tough and hard thus far, but this game is not just about out-muscling your opponents - but to outwit, outplay and outlast.
For Hope, the chance to change her family's life with the half million dollar prize money was her motivation when things were hard on the island.
Raising her special needs sister, Lavinia, with her new wife Isabella Carlstrom, she left both four days after the wedding to compete in Fiji.
A much more effervescent personality to talk to than came across on screen at times, the newlywed laughs about how she spent her 'honeymoon.'
"I spent my first night spooning [contestant] Tarzan … I'm a changed woman."
Dubbed the 'God daughter' for her close ties to Rogers, known as the 'Godfather' for the many tribal council kills he arranged, Hope is proud of the loyal game she played - fiercely protective of her alliance, and only going it alone when it came down to the final three.
A silent killer - going to 15 tribal councils and eliminating 14 others - she kept to herself and her allies, rejecting accusations of playing under the radar.
"For me it was about controlling the game without being that really player going 'I'm in charge,' she say, "I was able to be in charge without beating my chest."
While she came home with less injuries than Genat, she confessed to one strange "post traumatic stress disorder."
"I normally sleep nude but I've been waking up in the middle of the night and think 'Oh my god, I'm on the island'. And I sleepwalk, get dressed and get back into bed and I think 'Sharn's next to me, we're all good'. Then I wake up fully clothed, and I think 'you're insane.'"
Coombs was welcomed home a hero by her kids and husband, after again going deep into the game and covering herself in glory.
It was transitioning back to work as a crown prosecutor that she find the hardest post-Survivor shift to make.
Her debate skills and negotiating prowess proved valuable in the law of the jungle - making no apology for her final 'betrayal' of AK, Shonee Fairfax and Jewett.
Making final two in her first season, and siding with a majority alliance this time around, Coombs will stop at nothing to go one better.
"You're playing with top players so you've got to be playing it harder and sneakier and do the things you've got to do to get to the end."
All are worthy winners, but only one will keep their torch fire burning come Monday.
Whatever the result, Hope says she'll be winning on the night.
"I do know I'm wearing an amazing suit. I look great, whatever happens in the jury doesn't matter, because hopefully I'll get the money anyway."
* Australian Survivor: All Stars, 7.30pm, Monday, 10
Originally published as Survivor's last man standing pays high price for TV act