This is the first of 100 essays about who I feel to be the 100 most entertaining people in Survivor history. We are starting with the Dolphin trainer from Palau, Ian Rosenberger.
There are a few reasons Ian is on the list, but not incredibly high, and some of you might be surprised to see him here.
However, I believe that his contributions to Survivor: Palau are invaluable and made the season (at least for a few episodes) seem like it wasn’t already a forgone conclusion for Tom Westman.
For those of you who don’t remember, this is Ian. He is a 23 year old Dolphin trainer from Key Largo, FL.
To give a quick backstory, Ian was the captain of the yet-to-be-named Koror tribe because he was the first male to get to the beach and grab the immunity necklace on day one. During the first few days, he made a bond with Katie Gallagher, who would remain his friend throughout the game. Ian didn’t need strategy to go far, as his tribe won every immunity challenge, and by the “merge” had only lost one member (because of a double tribal council). As the game went on, there became a rift in the Katie/Ian friendship, and he ended up giving up his life in the game on day 38, when he stepped down from the final 3 immunity challenge after requesting that the soon-to-be winner, Tom Westman, would take Katie to the final 2 over him as an apology. Granted, this was a foregone conclusion had Tom won the challenge, but it still looked nice.
So now i have to defend myself as to why I felt that Ian was deserving of a spot on the top 100. I felt like Ian could have easily won Survivor: Palau. He was really the only person who stood a chance, physically or otherwise, against Tom Westman. He was likable, and his story arc with Katie culminated in one of the most seemingly sincere acts in the history of the game, him giving up the final immunity for her.
But is that enough to put someone on the top 100 most entertaining people list? To me? Actually, almost.
The other thing that made Ian memorable and entertaining in my mind was his smile. Too often in “neo-survivor” we never see people happy. Either they are always strategizing or miserable and cold and wet. Not Ian. He enjoyed his time in Palau, even though he didn’t end up with the money.
I have to admit, this one might be a bit biased. Here is why:
When I was 7, Survivor came out. My family liked it OK, but they weren’t as enthralled as I was. Season 2 premiered after the Super Bowl, which was a school night for my 7 year old self. We taped the premier, and went to bed. The next day, however, there was a snowday. Being the young (and stupid) person I was, I got up at 7AM. (My older self cringes now, as sleep is a hot commodity in college). The first thing I did was pop in the tape of Survivor with my brother (3 and a half years older than me) and sit and watch. My parents came down to leave for work, and right when they looked at the TV, Kimmi Kappenburg said a line that I will never forget “Where the hell am I going to masterbate out here?!?!”. Well, needless to say, my parents were less than happy about this and they banned me from ever watching Survivor again. Fast forward a few years, I try to watch Survivor All-Stars, my dad catches me, and I am in trouble. Fast forward another year or so, and I begin to watch Survivor: Vanuatu at around the time of the merge. My parents have forgotten this incident by now, and I am free to watch. Therefore, the first full season I watched after being banned for life was Survivor: Palau. It will always have a special place in my heart, and I remember rooting for Ian and Tom in the final 2. He was my favorite to win up until the merge, when my focus switched to Tom.
While I am biased about Ian, I do believe that he deserves to be here, I found him wildly entertaining and I would love to see him on a future season of Survivor.
Thanks to all for reading, and I hope you continue on the journey through the top 100 most entertaining survivors.
Clue to #99: This survivor, whose season was located in the Americas won one immunity challenge, using his superior intellect and knowledge of the human psyche to seize the necklace.