Every season of Survivor there’s always one castaway that immediately captures the nation’s attention. For Season 33, aka Millennials Vs. Gen-X, that person is Zeke Smith. With his kooky Hawaiian shirt and Harry Potter-like specs, his style stands out from the rest.
But that’s only a portion of what makes him a Survivor star.
While some contestants were barely noticeable throughout the entire 90-minute premiere (Lucy, anyone?), Zeke stole the show from beginning to end and became an early favorite.
— Count Bulletsula (@CountBulletsula) September 22, 2016
1. Unlikely leader
While admitting he doesn’t fit in with the cooler kids in the tribe, he wasn’t afraid to step up and prove he’s a valuable member of the team. While his muscular tribemates couldn’t seem to build a strong shelter, he took over and guided the group into creating what looked like an effective place to sleep. It was a major achievement for a guy who described his previous outdoor experience as riding a New York City subway. Based on first impressions, he would be a memorable winner.
2. Fire starter
Only a few people have ever started a fire on Survivor without the use of flint and steel. Add Zeke to that list. With the help of a few tribemates, Zeke sparked a flame by simply rubbing bamboo together. It was amazing to watch his excitement spread throughout the tribe with a grin that couldn’t be wiped away by the wildest Survivor storm. He labeled the moment as an early sign that Survivor would change his life.
3. His personality
What I most like about Zeke is he’s not afraid to be his hilarious self. Within the first few minutes yapping about himself, Zeke admitted he doesn’t fit in with the other millennials in his tribe. Instead, he labeled himself as an 80-year-old man who belongs at a singles mixer at the retirement home. I appreciate his raw, real self-described traits. He’s clearly not there so he can move to Hollywood and become a star. Seriously, how do you not like this guy? It was like falling in love with Tai Trang from last season all over again.
Surprise! Zeke is a 45-year-old mole working for Gen X on the Millennial tribe. #Survivor
— Joseph Wesolek (@JosephWesolek) September 22, 2016
Rupert had his tye-dye, Zeke has his flowery shirt and big glasses. Can you even remember what other contestants were wearing? Probably not. But I bet Zeke’s outfit is sticking in your mind. His Hawaiian shirt even got quite a bit of Twitter love, which can’t be said of anybody else’s fashion choices (except for all the women chatting about the young guys in their underwear).
— Big Brother Always #CBBUS (@BigBroAlways) September 22, 2016
— Zeke Smith (@zekerchief) September 20, 2016
5. Cyclone who?
On the second day of filming, Cyclone Zena hurled her wrath at Fiji. The wicked winds and pelting rainfall resulted in a history-making moment where all 20 castaways were evacuated from their beach. Admitting it was possibly the hardest night of his life, it was the waterlogged conditions that seemed to spark a fire in him to fight even harder. After the storm settled, it was when Zeke really shone brightly with his ability to build shelter, make fire and stay positive.
As you probably guessed, Zeke was not the first person voted out of the game. That distinction went to Rachel, a castaway who will be forgotten as fast as Jeff Probst snuffed her torch.