On a tribe of Survivor heroes, Rupert Boneham is more like a superhero. He wears a signature costume that’s as recognizable as Batman’s nipple-studded chest plate. He has super strength. When he gets excited he even roars like that blue chick from Avatar. He also started as a lowly social worker from Indiana before founding his own charity.
But being a superhero is no easy job. Just ask one.
Swarms of rabid fanboys will tell you that Rupert is a teacher’s pet. They say Survivor came up with an excuse to give Rupert a million dollars just because, well, they like pirates. Some are crying foul that he’s playing for a third time.
Given that Rich, Tina and Ethan were voted out early in All Stars strictly because they had already won a million, maybe it isn’t just the fanboys who root against the over-achievers. Will he be voted out early on, despite his super powers?
I asked Rupert about a potential backlash, as well as his recent participation on the Isreali version of Survivor, and whether he, Tom, Colby and James are the immunity challenge equivalent of the ’28 Yankees.
I saw a clip on YouTube where you appeared as part of a reward challenge on the Israeli version of Survivor. Did the Isreali contestants know who you were?
Most of the contestants knew who I was. They are very big Survivor fans and watch Survivor US on the internet and on TV in their own countries.
What was that cultural exchange like?
It was very interesting to hear about the Israeli culture. They are very high energy, exciting men and women and they reminded me of my buddies and friends back home.
On Survivor: All Stars, winners were targeted early. You won a million dollars at America’s Tribal Council. Did you worry it would amount to the same thing?
Of course I was worried about being the first person voted out. But I also remember the pain of Survivor, and if you can help eliminate some of that pain, you are looked at as a benefit to the tribe.
If you don’t mind my asking, how did you spend your million?
I spent the first million dollars in a matter of weeks. But I met life goals with it. $277,000 went to charity. Only part of that went to Rupert’s Kids. My daughter got her college fund. My family got out of debt and the government got a check for $487,000.
That’s a lot of money! So if you won a second million, how would you spend it?
If I am lucky enough to win a second million dollars, I am sure I would do exactly the same thing.
You seemed less light hearted on Survivor: All Stars than on the Pearl Islands. Did you feel worn down at that time?
I was the first Survivor ever to do back to back Survivors. Yes, it was hard on my body and my mind.
So will we see the return of the fun loving Rupert in Heroes vs. Villains?
Now that I have had six years in between Survivors, I plan on going back out there with all the gusto I can muster. I like being me!
With you, Colby, Tom, James and JT working together, can the Heroes be beaten in the challenges?
That is one amazing combination of strength and Survivor knowledge. I would hope we are dominant in all of the challenges. I know I’ll show my strength and value. I hope everyone else can.
You were unstoppable in some of the strong man competitions in the Pearl Islands. How do you train?
I have trained all of my life in the school of hard knocks. I show the younger generation how working hard every day can build your muscles, your body and your mind. Check out RupertsKids.org
-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins
(Image courtesy of CBS)