Wednesday's "Survivor: Island of the Idols" premiere will welcome the second Whitley County resident to the reality television show when Elaine Stott of Rockholds is featured on the series.
Stott, 41, follows Williamsburg's Nick Wilson who won the 37th season, "Survivor: David vs. Goliath", in December last year.
"When Nick won, I'd like to die -- I wanted him to win but then again, I didn't because I wanted to be the first one from the county to win," Stott said with a laugh. "Me and him went to the same high school so I was a little jealous and a little mad about it, but then when I got picked, I was like, 'dang, now I'm going to have to win this whole thing or they gonna...you know,' so that became an issue after the fact."
She admitted it was a little added pressure with having to follow up after Wilson.
"It was like I don't know if this is good or bad," she said.
The 39th season that Stott will be featured on has already been filmed, the only information the castaways do not yet know is who won the season.
The season features 18 new castaways who will compete to outwit, outplay and outlast each other and the live finale at the end of the season will have the contestants down to the final three (if it follows suit of the most recent seasons). Of those final three, the castaways who were voted off the island throughout the season and who were made members of the jury will decide the winner. That person is given the title of Sole Survivor and the winner of $1 million.
A twist this season is that it will feature two legendary winners, Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine, who return to the game to serve as mentors to the group of 18 new players.
"Combined, Boston Rob and Sandra have played over 200 days in this game and plan to share their knowledge with the new castaways, but for the first time ever, they won't be competing for the money," a press release from CBS states. "During the 39 days, these new players will visit the Island of the Idols and learn skills and strategy from these 'idols.'"
Stott's journey to 'Survivor'
"Because it's only the greatest show there ever was," Stott said of why she wanted to be on "Survivor".
"'Survivor' really is, it speaks to a whole bunch of different things, it's athletic, it's mental, physical -- I just always loved the show since it came out," she said. "There's all kinds of different aspects to it and something always clicked with me, you know, it was always something I wanted to do."
Stott tried to get accepted on to the show four times, and in this case the fourth time was a charm. She had auditioned for the show in her 20s once and twice in her 30s.
"I had kinda just given up on it honestly," she admitted, but her godmother kept pushing her to try and when her godmother saw a casting call in Bowling Green, Kentucky for the series, she encouraged Stott to go. The night before the casting call, Stott decided to make the trip after work.
She laughs at the fact that they didn't choose her in her 20s when she was in the best shape of her life.
"They literally waited until I was in the worst shape I've ever been," Stott said. "I gained 50 pounds in three years sitting on a fork truck and then I finally get the call. It's the heaviest I've ever been."
Stott said she's watched every season, but some years she would get mad from not having been chosen to be a contestant so she'd protest from watching it for awhile and then before the finale, give in and watch it the whole season.
She said she watched the show with her godmother and they'd discuss it, but when Stott would refuse to watch, it would make her godmother mad because they couldn't talk about it. Stott sometimes wouldn't watch it just to joke around and make her godmother mad.
Stott went through some hard times as her grandpa got sick, for example, and she helped take care of him. During those times "Survivor" wasn't always a priority to sit down and watch.
"It wasn't always in the forefront, but it was always something that I loved," she said.
"It's all about being at the right place at the right time and the only problem is you don't know when that place is or that time is," Stott said. "So you just got to take your chances when you can."
Getting the call
Stott's mom went into the hospital the first week of October 2018. She had a brain bleed, had to have surgery and then was in a coma.
Stott had stayed at her mom's bedside at the hospital throughout it all, and the first time Stott left to try to catch a nap, she received a call from the people with "Survivor" telling her she made it to the next step and they wanted her to submit an application to the show.
Stott's mom passed away before Stott was officially accepted on to the show.
"It was bittersweet. Here it is this amazing thing that happened that I've wanted for 20 years and I can't even tell my mom," Stott said.
Stott's godmother has also had her struggles over the last couple of years and Stott's acceptance onto the show gave her something to look forward to.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster for me personally," Stott said. "Having 'Survivor' has been crazy, but it's been a complete blessing."
"I've made some crappy decisions in my life, don't get me wrong, but I'm always right where I'm supposed to be at all times and I believe in God and I think God is the reason for all of it," she said.
Preparing for her debut
Stott said she was confirmed to be one of the 18 castaways for the 39th season in late January or early February and left for filming of the show in March.
To prepare for the show she joined CrossFit 606 and lost 20 pounds before filming the season.
She also built some obstacle courses to practice balancing, which many of the challenges on "Survivor" requires, and practiced slide puzzles, another common challenge in the series, on her phone.
As a seasoned "Survivor" fan, Stott knew though that the biggest challenge when it comes to "Survivor" is the social aspect of the game.
"If you don't click with them, you don't click for them," she said of the other castaways. So she knew that she needed to follow the vibes of her tribe members to help her in the game.
She thought her easy going personality would be a strength for her going into the season.
"My personality and my humor," she said of her strengths. "I'm a talker, which I think a lot of us southern folks are, we just like to talk. We got the gift of gab."
But, she also knew she is kind of bossy because she is independent. She knew she couldn't play the game of "Survivor" successfully being bossy.
Stott already filmed her season beginning in March and the whole cast was kept for two months so they returned home in May.
"We've had to keep our mouths shut since then which has been rather difficult," Stott laughed.
She had to quit her job of 15 years at Aisin Automotive Casting to go on the show.
"I didn't take the decision lightly, but I couldn't pass it up. How do you pass up on 'Survivor?'"
It took some time to ease back into a normal daily routine again, Stott said, and she has been staying at home with the support of her fiancée.
"Survivor: Island of the Idols" premieres at 8 p.m. Wednesday on CBS.