Probst was born in Wichita, Kansas, but grew up primarily in Bellevue, Washington. After graduating from Newport High School in 1979, he attended Seattle Pacific University and worked at Boeing Motion Picture/Television studio as a producer and narrator of marketing videos.
Probst was ordained as a minister by the Universal Life Church in 1999. He remarried his parents for their 35th wedding anniversary and officiated at the marriage of Jenna Fisher, star of The Office. He also served as the officiant at the weddings of several friends.
Probst hosts the "Howard Stern Celebrity Fan Round Table" for Howard Stern on SiriusXM radio. Probst previously served as host of VH1's Rock & Roll Jeopardy!; hosted several programs for FX and traveled around the world as a correspondent for "Access Hollywood." In 2001, he was voted one of People Magazine's "Most Beautiful." In 2002, Probst wrote and directed the feature film Finder's Fee, starring Ryan Reynolds, James Earl Jones, Robert Forster, and Matthew Lillard. The film won many awards and, thanks to the critical success, Probst was selected as one of 2001's "Ten Directors to Watch" in a series presented by the American Cinematheque showcasing innovative and exciting new directors from around the world.
In 2007, Probst founded The Serpentine Project, a non-profit organization designed to help young adults transition out of the foster care system. In 2011, they joined forces with the larger non-profit organization Alliance for Children's Rights, which has provided 100,000 kids in L.A. with free legal assistance and advocacy. Every season, SURVIVOR memorabilia is auctioned off and, to date, the auctions have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization.
Probst is a four-time Emmy Award winner for "Outstanding Reality Host," the only winner since the awards inception in 2008. He has traveled the world serving as both host and executive producer for this popular series. Probst also received an Emmy in 2001 when the show won the first-ever "Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (Special Class)." In 2009, Probst partnered with Mark Burnett as creator and executive producer for "Live for the Moment" for CBS, which featured a person with a daunting diagnosis who wanted to live the best life possible and fulfill their dreams.
Probst is now married and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children when not traveling the world. His birthday is November 4. He can be followed on Twitter @jeffprobst.
In addition to Survivor, Probst previously hosted the FX network's original half-hour show dedicated to answering viewer letters, Backchat along with Sound FX, and a series of afternoon shows surrounding parenting, relationships and medicine. (1996). Probst also hosted the VH1 series Rock & Roll Jeopardy! from 1998 to 2001, and was a correspondent for the syndicated program Access Hollywood. He also wrote and directed the Lionsgate film Finder's Fee. People magazine named Probst one of the "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001. He often contributes to Jeopardy! by giving Survivor related clues from the show's venues, and he has appeared twice on Celebrity Jeopardy!: first in 2001, and again in 2003, and made several cameo appearances during the April 1, 2010 episode.
He was also a frequent guest star on the sketch show MADtv, guest starring once a season since the show's 9th season.
Probst also hosts "Celebrity Superfan Roundtable" for Howard Stern.
On April 1, 2009, Probst appeared on the CBS reality television special I Get That a Lot, in which he worked a cash register. Probst made a guest appearance on an episode of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother on October 3, 2011.
In 2011, it was announced Probst would be hosting a daytime talk show in conjunction with CBS Distribution, The Jeff Probst Show, which aired for one season from 2012 to 2013.
Probst has hosted Survivor since its inception in 2000. According to Mark Burnett, Probst had turned down several hosting jobs prior to Survivor. Burnett claimed that Probst got interested after reading about the concept of the show in a newspaper and made an audition video where he was making mock press interviews about the show, talking about its huge success. Ironically, Burnett recalled how he himself did the same thing when he pitched the show on CBS, saying he made mock Newsweek and Time Magazine covers. When he interviewed Probst, Burnett claimed that Probst "demanded" to be on the show. Probst was one of two who got on Burnett's shortlist, the other being Phil Keoghan. Trusting that both hosts could deliver, Burnett sought advice from Les Moonves, then-President and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation to help him choose the most viable host. Burnett was ultimately given the final say on who to pick, and despite picking Probst by instinct, the same conversation benefited Keoghan as well, who went on to host another CBS reality competition series, The Amazing Race. Probst briefly left the show in 2009 due to burnout due to budget cuts, leading to the series being filmed in the same location back-to-back every two seasons. However, he returned as host in time for filming Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. By Survivor: Nicaragua, Probst was promoted to Executive Producer, and has been more hands-on in production operations as Burnett had become more occupied with other television projects.
He later stated that he had worked hard to get a meeting with Burnett, because he believed the show was "something special". He is best known for delivering the series' signature catchphrase to losing contestants, "The tribe has spoken. It's time for you to go." Probst stated that Burnett came up with said catchphrase by accident in a conversation two days prior to filming Borneo.
As the show's host, he made several voice-overs during early seasons. Additionally, Probst is also present in almost all important events in the game such as challenges, Tribal Councils, and twists. In challenges, Jeff serves as the official referee, making commentaries as challenges progress for the benefit of the viewers. While officiating a challenge, Jeff reserves the right to disqualify a player at any point during a challenge if foul play is caught. The only time that Jeff does not officiate a challenge is during Do-It-Yourself Challenges, where the castaways conduct the challenge themselves. If injuries occur at any point during a challenge, Jeff would temporarily hold the challenge, while medical checks the contestant in question. Depending on the severity of the injury, or if the injured player is forcibly eliminated from the game to seek further medical attention, Jeff holds the right to continue or postpone a challenge.
Over the years, Probst apparently developed a keen eye for body language and mannerisms. In Tribal Councils, whenever he sees an interesting gesture from any of the players, he usually notices and makes it a conversation piece, inducing controversy. Also, when players make a fatal, game-changing mistake, he would either criticize or make subtle, sarcastic jokes about it.
In Survivor: Pearl Islands, Jeff is revealed to have a distaste for people who quit the game, as seen in Osten Taylor's decision to voluntarily leave the competition. After Taylor left Tribal Council, Jeff was visibly disgusted. This feeling has been consistent over the years; during the double quits of NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn in Nicaragua, as well as Colton Cumbie quitting in Survivor: Blood vs. Water. Despite this, there have been exceptions: first when Jenna Morasca quit Survivor: All-Stars because she was having bad omens about her dying mother. The second is Janu Tornell in Survivor: Palau, who became fed up with her tribe, but decided to "throw a wrench" in her tribe's plan to oust Stephenie LaGrossa by quitting the game at Tribal Council, thus cancelling the voting process for that round. The third time that Jeff was compassionate about a quitter was Kathy Sleckman in Survivor: Micronesia, when she quit because the constant raining sent her into depression. The fourth time was when Dana Lambert quit in Survivor: Philippines due to an illness she felt while in the game, even though she was still permitted to continue, and was observed for the next 12 hours to determine if she was fit to continue the game. Jeff said that even though Dana's status in the game was technically a quit, Jeff said that he respected Dana's decision, and even said that he might do the same thing if he was in Dana's position; nevertheless, Jeff is largely spiteful of contestants who leave the show because they cannot handle the harsh environments anymore, which he felt as a weak reason to leave.
Probst was previously married to Shelly Wright, a psychotherapist. They divorced in 2001.
Jeff once dated a former Survivor contestant, Julie Berry of Survivor: Vanuatu, though he revealed in a 2008 interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer that they have broken up, but still remained friends.
Probst is now married to Lisa Ann Russell, ex-wife to actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar. They married on December 5, 2011. Probst is a step-father to her two children, Michael Charles and Ava Lorenn.
Jeff Probst, alongside the co-author of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Chris Tebbetts, has written a children's book series called Stranded which focuses on a group of four children ship wrecked on an island. The book was released on February 7, 2013. A sequel titled Trial by Fire was released on June 13, 2013. A third book that wrapped up the first arc of the Stranded series entitled Survivor was released on November 19, 2013 The second arc of the series, Stranded: Shadow Island's first book, titled Forbidden Passage, was released on September 4, 2014. A sequel to Forbidden Passage titled The Sabotage was released on February 3, 2015.The final book of the Shadow Island series titled Desperate Measures was released on February 3, 2016.
- While most of the show's memorabilia are auctioned for charity, Jeff keeps the Snuffers from each season as personal souvenirs.
- Jeff revealed on his Tout page that he does not read the votes cast at the Final Tribal Council beforehand.
- In an interview with Dalton Ross, Jeff revealed that from all the Tribal Councils he conducted, his favorite was when Erik Reichenbach gave up his Immunity Necklace to Natalie Bolton in Survivor: Micronesia. His favorite challenge was the Bob-Bob Buoy challenge from Survivor: Palau.
- Before coming with his popular catchphrase, "the tribe has spoken," Jeff came up with "a long list" of unsatisfying catchphrases in a conversation with series creator Mark Burnett. Jeff at the time was still unable to produce a fitting catchphrase for players voted out at Tribal Council, in a similar rein to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire's, "is that your final answer?". In an interview, Jeff stated that Burnett initially came up with the lines of, "your tribe obviously don't want you around no more." Jeff felt it was too harsh, prompting Burnett to respond with, "it's the way it is, the tribe has spoken; you've got to go."
- Jeff reveals he also test runs challenges with the Dream Team occasionally to experience the physical pain that entails it.
- According to Survivor: Philippines castaway Carter Williams, Jeff "is terrified of butter knives".
- Jeff usually stacks the votes in such an order where he thinks could extract the most suspense, especially when a player he knows possesses a Hidden Immunity Idol receives votes.
|Survivor (U.S.) Personnel|
Bruce Beresford-Redman · Charlie Parsons · David Vanacore · Jeff Probst · Joe Rowles · John Kirhoffer · Lynne Spillman · Mark Burnett · Matt Van Wagenen · Ramona Salins · Russ Landau · Survivor Production Team|