Survivor Nicaragua Cast Revealed! Get Inside Scoop From the Set

Jimmy Johnson one of 20 contestants competing for a million dollars in reality competition's 21st season

By Drusilla Moorhouse Aug 09, 2010 1:00 PMTags
Survivor NicaraguaMonty Brinton/CBS


Months after we inflitrated the set of Survivor: Nicaragua (with the help of CBS), we can confirm this season's big secret: Legendary football coach Jimmy Johnson is one of the 20 contestants vying for a million dollars—and we have the scoop on Jimmy, his "legacy of hair" and the rest of the Castaways competing in the controversial, old-versus-young smackdown...

"He's wealthy—or you certainly think he is," host Jeff Probst told me about Jimmy Johnson during filming in Nicaragua. "He's incredibly successful, so he has fame...He'll tell you, 'If I win, I'm giving it to charity.' He really wants adventure."

At 67, Jimmy is the second-oldest Survivor Castaway (after Rudy Boesch), but he'll be playing among (relative) peers in his older Espada tribe. As we revealed earlier, Johnson's tribe will compete against the younger La Flor tribe.

To account for the age differences, Survivor is leveling the playing field this season. "Once we decided it was going to be old versus young," Jeff told me, "we knew it couldn't be big physical challenges. One of the things that's kind of implied [in Survivor] is that the challenges have to be fair for everybody."

Immunity Challenges will have another twist with the new, unfortunately named Medallion of Power: It gives the tribe who possesses it an advantage in the challenge—if they choose to play it. If they don't, they continue to keep it. If they do play the, ahem, MOP, it reverts to the opposing tribe.

But really, we're all watching Survivor: Nicaragua to see how Jimmy's famous hairstyle squares off against Mother Nature without the defense of White Rain.

"He's got a legacy of hair," said Probst, "that's just fun to think about what might happen."

For more on Jimmy's hair, health, strategy and how Survivor "saved his life" (seriously), check out our exclusive interview—just hours before the game began in Nicaragua.

Below is the complete list of Johnson's competitors (we interviewed all of them, too, so stay tuned for more details). You can meet them all when Survivor: Nicaragua premieres—in a new Wednesday time slot—Sept. 15 at 8 p.m.

La Flor Tribe
Alina Wilson, 23; student/model
Ben "Benry" Henry, 24; bar owner
Brenda Lowe, 27; business owner, former Miami Dolphins cheerleader
Chase Rice, 24; NASCAR jackman/singer
Judson Birza, 21; student/model/musician
Kelly Bruno, 25; medical student, amputee triathlete
Kelly Shinn, 20; student
Matthew "Sash" Lenahan, 30; luxury broker
NaOnka Mixon, 27; P.E. teacher
Shannon Elkins, 30; business owner

Espada Tribe
Dan Lembo, 63; property management
Holly Hoffman, 44; swim coach
Jane Bright, 56; dog trainer
Jillian Behm, 43; ER physician
Jimmy Johnson, 67; retired NFL coach/TV sports broadcaster
Jimmy Tarantino, 48; fisherman/government seafood inspector
Marty Piombo, 48; wine industry executive
Tyrone Davis, 42; fire captain
Wendy Jo DeSmidt-Kohlhoff, 48; retired army officer
Yve Rojas, 41; stay-at-home mom

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Get a closer look at all the Castaways in our Survivor: Nicaragua photo gallery.