It was 10 years ago today that one of the most memorable runs in “Survivor” history began.
Erik Reichenbach of Pinckney was a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University student working as an ice-cream scooper at Screams Ice Cream in Hell when he made the cast of CBS’ “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites.” The first episode aired 10 years ago today – Feb. 7, 2008.
A superb athlete (he was a track standout at Pinckney High School and EMU), Reichenbach excelled on the show. He won numerous immunity challenges and won legions of fans because of his outgoing, somewhat goofy personality.
He made it all the way to the final five – and then he committed one of the biggest blunders in “Survivor” history. Reichenbach had won the individual immunity challenge – meaning he couldn’t be voted off by the other four finalists (all women).
The four women then hatched a plot to each convince Reichenbach that his only chance of winning it all (by a vote of the jury) was to give up his individual immunity idol to one of the women. They told him that this selfless act would show the jury members what a great guy he was, and they’d reward him with the million-dollar grand prize.
They also promised that if he gave up the individual immunity idol, they wouldn’t vote him off.
Reichenbach gave up the idol, and the other four promptly voted him off. He was thus dubbed “The Dumbest Survivor in History” – a moniker he has proudly worn for the past 10 years.
Reichenbach returned to Pinckney as a celebrity in the spring of 2008, making several local appearances.
He also returned to “Survivor” in 2013 for “Survivor: Caramoan.” He had a lot of success in this edition of the show, too, but his run ended when he had to be medically evacuated after making it to the final five.
Reichenbach broke down all of his “Survivor” experiences in this 2017 article.
In 2014, he married girlfriend Dana Ruff on the shores of Lake Michigan, and People magazine was there to cover it.
Now 32 years old, Reichenbach has carved out a career as a successful comic illustrator. But to his “Survivor” fans, he’ll forever be known for the unforgettable run that began 10 years ago today.
To see Erik’s memorable blunder on “Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites,” check out the video below.