'Survivor: Nicaragua': New cast and new twists revealed!

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Two-time Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson headlines the new cast of Survivor: Nicaragua when it premieres Wednesday, September 15 on CBS. The former coach (who also won college championships as both a player and a coach) and current Fox football analyst will join nine other contestants over the age of 40 on the Espada tribe to take on 10 contestants 30 and under in Survivor‘s second old vs. young battle (Survivor: Panama was split into four tribes divided by both age and gender). The younger La Flor tribe features Survivor‘s second amputee contestant, Kelly Bruno, who lost her right leg to a birth defect when she was six-months old (Survivor: Vanuatu also featured a contestant with an artificial limb, Chad Crittenden). “We don’t really look at Kelly as ‘let’s do another amputee,”’ Jeff Probst told EW.com while on location during filming. “When Kelly came in, it wasn’t that she had [an artificial] limb. It was that she was so charismatic.  I hope Kelly lasts a long time because that’s somebody I would want in my foxhole with me.”

The old versus young division is not the only twist this season. At the very opening, Probst will reveal to the contestants a brand new item: the Medallion of Power. The Medallion can be used by a tribe to give itself an advantage in an immunity challenge, but once used, it goes over to the other tribe to use when it sees fit. “The Medallion of Power is designed to give you power at challenges,” explains Probst. “And our job is to make sure that the advantage is enough to tempt you — not so much that it’s a landslide, but enough that you go, ‘I’m not sure we should take it. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t.'”

Also, expect fewer hidden immunity idols to be played on Survivor: Nicaragua, or at least expect them to be a bit harder to find. “This season we have made changes to the hidden immunity idol,” says Probst “The only way you’re gonna find it is to decipher these cryptic visual clues. So it’s a bit like a visual riddle, and the audience will get to play along. And the first set of four clues is very difficult. The next set will be a little easier, and then by the third set, you should find it.”

Other contestants beyond Jimmy Johnson and Kelly Bruno include a former NFL cheerleader, a fire captain, an ER doctor, and a goat rancher. For exclusive video interviews and footage of each contestant, check out the video player below. (The full list of Survivor: Nicaragua contestants is below the video player.) Also make sure to check out our photo gallery of the new cast, with quotes from each. Finally, for Survivor news, views, and reviews all season long, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

Jill Behm

Age: 43
Occupation: ER Doctor
Current Residence: Erie, Penn.

Jane Bright
Age: 56
Occupation: Dog Trainer
Current Residence: Jackson Spring, N.C.

Tyrone Davis
Age: 42
Occupation: Fire Captain
Current Residence: Inglewood, Calif.

Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff
Age: 48
Occupation: Goat Rancher/Retired Army Officer
Current Residence: Fromberg, Mont.

Holly Hoffman
Age: 44
Occupation: Swim Coach
Current Residence: Eureka, S.D.

Jimmy Johnson
Age: 67
Occupation: TV Sports Broadcaster/Former Football Coach
Current Residence: Islamorada, Fla

Dan Lembo
Age: 63
Occupation: Real Estate Executive
Current Residence: Water Mill, N.Y.

Marty Piombo
Age: 48
Occupation: Technology Executive
Current Residence: Mill Valley, Calif.

Yve Rojas
Age: 41
Occupation: Homemaker
Current Residence: Kansas City, Mo.

Jimmy Tarantino
Age: 48
Occupation: Commercial Fisherman
Current Residence: Gloucester, Mass.

Judson Birza

Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Current Residence: Venice, Calif.

Kelly Bruno
Age: 26
Occupation: Medical Student
Current Residence: Durham, N.C.

Shannon Elkins
Age: 30
Occupation: Pest Control Co. Owner
Current Residence: Lafayette, La.

Ben “Benry” Henry
Age: 24
Occupation: Club Promoter
Current residence: Los Angeles, Calif.

Matthew “Sash” Lenaham
Age: 30
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Current Residence: New York, N.Y.

Brenda Lowe
Age: 27
Occupation: Paddleboard Co. Owner/Ex-NFL Cheerleader
Current Residence: Miami, Fla.

NaOnka Mixon
Age: 27
Occupation: Physical Education Teacher
Current Residence: Los Angeles, Calif.

Chase Rice
Age: 24
Occupation:  Pro Race Car Jackman/Singer
Current Residence: Charlotte, N.C.

Kelly Shinn
Age: 20
Occupation: Nursing Student
Current Residence: Mesa, Ariz.

Alina Wilson
Age: 23
Occupation: Art Student
Current residence: Downey, Calif

Comments (86 total) Add your comment
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  • Entertainment2u-Twitter

    so how long does the age thing get phased out? after week 3 I’ll guess.

    • LOL

      No one cares about this crap.

    • Jethro

      Totally agree, this show is aging so rapidly nothing can improve it. The addition of Jimmy Johnson makes it seem desperate to get the ratings it once had and the move to Wednesdays show CBS feels the same.

      The show is very predictable and a bore at this point!!

      • mistress of the sea

        don’t watch it then, you are not getting paid to watch it anyway!

  • Entertainment2u-Twitter


  • John

    Very promising…with only FOUR contestants from California (and only one from LA!), can this mean that the recruiting of actor/model wannabes from whatever bars the casting directors hang out at was kept to an absolute minimum? Whoppee!!

    • Mike

      CASTING AHOY! That’s a huge percentage – out of the “young” people, 4 out of 10 are from the LA area (Venice, LA, Downey). That strikes me as still a lot of casting.

      • @Mike

        If you think 4 contestants is a huge percentage of casting you don’t watch the show. A few seasons like when they did the ethnic twist they cast 80% – 90% of the contestants from recruiting in California.

  • Lori Adams

    So I guess if you’re in your 30’s, you’re out of luck. Interesting.

    • Jen Jen

      That’s what I just noticed. I guess the 30 year olds had something better to do . . .

      • mistress of the sea

        hehe ;)

    • MCS

      Seeing as they have been doing Survivor twice a year for the past 10 years, im sure the thirty-somethings can just sit this one out

      • XDX


  • darclyte

    I’m sure that the Espada Tribe will want to vote off Jimmy ASAP, but they’ll probably need him to try to win Tribal Immunities. If he makes it to the individual portion of the game, he’ll be gone the first chance they can. Unless people determine that if they go to Final 2 with Jimmy that NOBODY would give him the money over ANYONE else since he’s already “rich.”

    • hugo

      Reality TV makes people stupid. Darclyte, it’s too late for you. Get a hobby and save a couple brain cells while there is still time.

      • wow

        Back under the bridge troll!

      • allie

        Wow, clearly you don’t know Darclyte very well. He actually writes very intelligently both here and on the tvg blogs.

      • CraigJ

        @Hugo, I don’t think watching Survivor makes you stupid. What does is grouping every reality show into the same category and assuming they are all the same and have nothing to offer more than entertainment value. You could make that comment about something like The Kardashian’s, but to say that about Survivor shows your limited ability to think outside of the box. For someone interested in sociology you will find that there is much to be learned about The Human Condition from watching this show and it’s a hell of an entertaining way to do so. Do you even watch the show you are commenting on?

      • jzon

        No, darclyte is pretty stupid. I have seen its other posts.

      • darclyte

        Not every post is going to be a gem. Oh look, a double rainbow! What does it mean?

      • CanadianChick

        and what about idiots who read and have nothing better to do than knock people on these comment boards??? Hugo, you’re an idiot

      • mistress of the sea

        hahaha, that’s a good one! :)

    • silverrose

      all jimmy has to say is take me to the finals and you get superbowl tickets and hes a shoein.

  • ZRob

    Thank god, a sesson with Russell Hantz at last.

    • AIan

      I think you mean finally a season withOUT Russel Hantz! Thank the Lord! I was half expecting the producers to stick him in again, just to enrage us long time fans.

      • ZRob

        Yes, WITHOUT that troll, at last. Note now that he’s not on, the HII is suddenly going to be less in evidence.

      • Liz

        I’m happy there will be less HII action. It really ruined the last two seasons and especially the last season for me.

  • Rean Reel

    J. H. C. — how bad do your ratings have to be that you’ll stoop to cast an old dude like Jimmy Johnson ???

    What’s next, Survivor: Topless Edition?

    • Minutiae

      Yeah, because there wasn’t some even older dude on Season 1 named Rudy or anything…

    • awesometeer

      i would watch that

    • Immature

      count me in

    • CraigJ

      That’s a great idea for Showtime!

  • mandyk

    Next season just make it Survivor: California Models vs. the rest of the United States.

  • Bob Frapples

    {Insert ExtenZe joke here.}

  • Barry

    This crap is still on?

    • Mr. Know-It-All

      No, it went off the air about four years ago.

    • asdf

      I don’t know anyone who watches it anymore. It has zero buzz. (And that front page pimpin’ couldn’t be any more obvious paid editorial.)

      • texangal

        I hate to tell ya, but this is a top 10 show. Just cause you little kids don’t watch it, doesn’t mean nobody else is. Go back to watching Snookie.

      • nodnarb

        Please, grandma. Don’t kid yourself… there is ZERO difference between the famewhores on Survivor and the ones on Jersey Shore.

      • Jerri

        Go back to watching Twilight, troll

  • DebbieLG

    Looking forward to it – always end up enjoying each season – some better than others but still fun to watch.

  • McNulty

    Thanks to Extenze, Jimmy Johnson is going to last forever on this show.

  • Dav

    Oh Jimmy…..*sigh* What happened to you man?

  • stephen

    I say get rid of the hidden immunity idol altogether! Or only do one per season… Once it’s found, that’s it.

    • TreS

      Agreed! HII needs to go away! This Madallion of power could be ok, but Id rather time wasnt eaten up explaining to us what the thing could do, only for them to not use it each week. I dunno, go back to the basics survivor. Or at least bring back Exile for them to get the HII.

    • Liz

      I agree. I don’t like these little gimmicks that they are using HII and Exile and now the Medallion of Power?! WTF is that Survivor? You have a good show without all the rubbishy gimmicks.

      • CraigJ

        Do you ever like a show to change or to try new ideas (gimmicks) to keep things fresh? Maybe they should do the same challenge in every episode too? I have watched from the beginning and think the last 2 seasons were some of the best ever and look forward to the twists every new season brings.

      • MCS

        I cant even imagine Survivor anymore without the Hidden Immunity Idol. I admit it was overdone with Russell, but really, it is as important to Survivor as Jeff Probst

  • Maria

    i’m looking forward to seeing how long jimmy johnson will last. and to see his hair get messed up. should be interesting.

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