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Jeffrey Keith "Jeff" Varner is a contestant from Survivor: The Australian Outback, Survivor: Cambodia, and Survivor: Game Changers.

In The Australian Outback, Jeff was an integral member of the Kucha Alliance, which entered the merge even in numbers with their rival Ogakor Alliance. This resulted in a deadlock between Jeff and Colby Donaldson at Tribal Council, which saw Jeff eliminated when the tiebreaker took into account previous votes.

After nearly 15 years, Jeff returned to Cambodia playing a much more aggressive game, quickly adapting to the erratic and impulsive gameplay of the modern Survivor. Despite having a numerical advantage after being switched to the new Angkor tribe, he was outmaneuvered by Andrew Savage and Tasha Fox, due to the infighting within his original Ta Keo contingent, as well as the physical toll the game had taken on him, and was voted out on Day 11.

In Game Changers, Jeff aligned with Michaela Bradshaw and Sandra Diaz-Twine early on, with the alliance taking control of the Mana and Nuku tribes. However, a second tribe switch relegated him to the bottom with Sandra and, after her departure, Jeff scrambled to stay alive, but took it too far by revealing sensitive information about Zeke Smith at Tribal Council. Alas, he was voted out one cycle short of the merge, thus missing out on the jury for a third consecutive time.


Retrieved from

AGE: 34
OCCUPATION: Internet Project Manager
HOMETOWN: New York, New York
LUXURY ITEM: Coloring Book and Crayons

Jeff Varner is an internet project manager, having most recently worked as Director of People and Process for a Manhattan start-up company. There he developed and managed the technical and interpersonal aspects of a Human Resources/Operations hybrid system for a staff of 30. Prior employment includes work as a website producer, graphic designer and marketing manager for various companies.

Varner obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Earlier employment included stints as a waiter, bartender and traveling salesperson. He is most proud of successfully making the transition from small town living to the much faster pace of a big city.

An aggressive athlete, he first put on a pair of skates when he was two years old and has since played competitive hockey (right defense) for 16 years, though he admits he spent most of the time in the penalty box. Additionally, he studied martial arts, receiving a black belt in Tae Kwon Do when he was 15 years old. While pursuing his degree with UNC, he was Captain of the National Champion Tar Heel Cheer Team (1989–90). He is an avid rollerblader, spending many afternoons skating through Manhattan's busy streets.

Varner describes himself as provocative, energetic, competitive, adventurous, and a free spirit who will try anything twice. His favorite television show is Sex and the City while his favorite feature films are Coal Miner's Daughter and The Matrix. He likes all kinds of music, especially that which motivates.

His perfect day includes a trip to the mountains with someone special for a day of hiking and nature (including a swim at a breathtaking waterfall). The day finishes with a jog, a shower, a bottle of Merlot, a ruthless game of backgammon, and great sex.

Born and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina, Varner currently lives in Manhattan, New York. He is a member of the Society of Human Resources. His respect, love and concern for children motivates him to volunteer for organizations and charities that support kids with need. Currently, he is researching burn trauma organizations for kids with the hope of making a difference. His birth date is April 16.[1]

Name: Jeff Varner
Season 2
Survivor: The Australian Outback
Current Age: 49

Hometown: Greensboro, NC[2]

Age: 50
Hometown: High Point, NC
Previously played on:
Season 2: Australia, Finished 10th out of 16 & Non-Jury
Season 31: Second Chances, Finished 17th
How have you changed since the last time you played? I'm more physically fit, less emotional, and smarter. I'm still me and could pop off at any time without warning, but I'm focused on being calmer. I'm honored to be part of this cast and aware this could be the last time I'm ever on a Survivor island, so I want to soak up the surroundings, beauty, and energy of being part of this landmark series. I just played this game, so the excitement of being back is more tempered by a focus to not get too carried away.
What skills do you bring to Survivor that will make you a useful member of the group and what skills have you been learning since you last played? I'll be much more useful at challenges and intend to be more instrumental around camp. I want strong relationships when this is over, but already have a host of great friends. I make mistakes, but I'm a good person with a good heart. I hope America sees that. But if my competition doesn't, their loss.
What are you most proud of from the last time? Being chosen by America, by far! Also, my instinctual gameplay. My ability to control a volatile group of people and be the determining factor as to who went home on the first two boots.
What, if anything, do you most regret? Going too hard, too soon. Playing with too much emotion in the beginning. Drawing the Angkor buff. No matter how good of a game you're playing, drawing the wrong buff can change everything.

How will you play differently this time? I want to have more fun this time. I'll combine my Outback and Cambodia styles—hard gameplay with a more subtle approach. I plan to try and control my emotions more. As best as circumstances allow, I'll manage a swap better. I plan to align myself with the big threats. Even if I end up in the minority after a swap, I'll make sure there is someone else with me who is more of a target. This time, it's all business. I'd love to make the Jury finally, but if I don't, I want to make sure I've soaked it all up in a way that it's okay.[3]


The Australian Outback[]

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Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Kucha Bridging the Gap Reward/Immunity No Lost
2 Butch Cassidy Reward No Lost
Tucker'd Out Immunity No Won
3 Water Torture Reward No Lost
Lock Step Immunity No Won
4 Mastermind Reward No Won
True or Falls Immunity No Won
5 Triage Reward No Won
The Maze Immunity No Lost
6 Blind Leading the Blind Reward No Won
Tribes Merged, Day 20
7 Barramundi Perch Immunity Lost
Voted Out, Day 21

Episode Jeff's
Voted Against
1 Debb Debb
2 Kucha Tribe Immune
3 Kucha Tribe Immune
4 Kucha Tribe Immune
5 Kimmi Kimmi
6 No Tribal Council
7 Colby;
Amber, Colby,
Jerri, Keith, Tina;
Amber, Jerri,
Keith, Tina1
Voted Out, Day 21

^1 In "The Merge", the vote ended with a 5-5 tie between Jeff and Colby, forcing a revote. Nobody changed their vote on the revote, eliminating Jeff due to prior votes at Tribal Council.


Jeff was chosen from a pool of 32 candidates to be one of the 20 castaways to compete on the second chance season, Survivor: Cambodia. He was originally placed on the Ta Keo tribe, which quickly split between old school and new school players, with Jeff and Peih-Gee Law finding themselves in the middle. Although Jeff was an old school player, he wanted to prove he could succeed in new school Survivor. When Ta Keo lost the first Immunity Challenge on Day 3, Jeff and Peih-Gee voted with the new schoolers to send Vytas Baskauskas home. However, his loyalty to the group did not last as he saw how hard Shirin Oskooi and Spencer Bledsoe were playing, so he worked on turning the tribe against them. After Abi-Maria Gomes felt ostracized by the new school alliance fighting and making fun of her, they pulled Abi-Maria into the old school alliance, giving them the majority. When Ta Keo lost again, the alliance split their votes between Shirin and Spencer, and Shirin was voted out.

On Day 7, a Tribe Switch occurred that split the tribes from two to three. Jeff found himself on the new Angkor tribe with Abi-Maria, Peih-Gee, and Woo Hwang, which held the majority over original Bayon members Andrew Savage and Tasha Fox. However, Angkor was sent to live in hardship, being forced to live in a new camp without the any of the supplies that the two original tribes acquired during the marooning. After Angkor lost the next Immunity Challenge on Day 9, Jeff tried to send a message to Kelly Wiglesworth, but was caught by Tasha, who called him out in front of everyone, placing Jeff in hot water with his tribe. Despite this, the attention shifted to the continued infighting between Abi-Maria and Peih-Gee, handing the power to Andrew and Tasha. At Tribal Council, Jeff sided with Abi-Maria, Andrew, and Tasha in sending Peih-Gee home.

Angkor's continued living in squalor continued to take its toll on the tribe, resulting in a complete collapse at the Day 11 Immunity Challenge. With Abi-Maria, Andrew, and Tasha still in control, the vote was narrowed down to Jeff and Woo, who argued that Jeff should be voted out because of his deteriorating physical condition and his poor challenge performance. Jeff countered by citing that he had already proven his loyalty to the tribe, while Woo had not. Ultimately, Abi-Maria put aside her grudge against Woo, and she, Andrew, and Tasha opted to keep the tribe strong and vote out Jeff 4-1.

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Ta Keo The Marooning Reward No Won
Quest for Fire Reward/Immunity No Lost
2 Yank Yer Hank Reward/Immunity No Lost
Switched Tribes, Day 7
3 Angkor Draggin' the Dragon Immunity No Lost
4 Stomp-ede Reward Yes 1st
Blind Leading the Blind Immunity No Lost
Voted Out, Day 11

Episode Jeff's
Voted Against
1 Vytas -
2 Shirin -
3 Peih-Gee -
4 Woo Abi-Maria, Andrew,
Tasha, Woo
Voted Out, Day 11

Game Changers[]

Jeff started his third season on the Mana tribe. When Mana lost the first two Immunity Challenges, he joined the majority in voting out Ciera Eastin and Tony Vlachos respectively. He, along with Sandra Diaz-Twine, Malcolm Freberg, Aubry Bracco, and Michaela Bradshaw, were switched to Nuku after the first tribe switch. They joined Nuku member J.T. Thomas. Jeff faced a heavy blow on Night 11 when Malcolm was blindsided. On Day 13, he was caught in the middle between the duo of J.T. & Aubry who targeted Michaela and Michaela & Sandra who targeted J.T.. He chose to side with the latter duo to avenge Malcolm, hence blindsiding J.T..

Jeff and Sandra remained on Nuku after the second tribe switch, but were joined by original Nuku members Sarah Lacina, Andrea BoehlkeZeke Smith, Ozzy Lusth, and Tai Trang, leaving Jeff and Sandra on the bottom. Zeke led the original Nuku alliance into claiming that they were against Tai in order to keep Jeff and Sandra from scrambling, allowing them to take the latter out. When Nuku lost, Jeff was confident that Tai was going home. However, when Tai accidentally told him Sandra was the target, Jeff became suspicious. Though Jeff and Sandra stuck together in voting for Tai, the Nuku alliance succeeded in voting out Sandra, leaving Jeff as the odd man out.

After Tribal Council, Jeff planned on trying to convince everyone to get rid of Ozzy for being a physical threat come the merge. The next day, Jeff began making his moves against Ozzy, recruiting both Sarah and Zeke. Zeke apologized for leaving Jeff out of the Sandra vote and promised to be honest with him moving forward, with plans of reaching the Final Tribal Council together. When Nuku lost immunity again, Jeff tried to convince Zeke again to get rid of Ozzy, but Zeke was conflicted due to his strategy of keeping larger targets in the game as shields. Zeke's hesitance caused Jeff to believe that Zeke and Ozzy had a secret alliance, which he exposed to the other tribe members, causing them to question their loyalties.

At Tribal Council, a desperate Jeff outed Zeke as a transgender man, and tried to insinuate that Zeke's hiding this aspect of his life showed an ability to be deceitful. However, everyone else—including host Jeff Probst—quickly and emphatically rebuked Jeff for this tactic. After a long discussion, Jeff apologized, expressing shame and remorse for what he had done. Seeing that Jeff's actions would clearly lead to his elimination, Probst took an open roll call from all of the players, then had Varner eliminated without a formal vote.

It was revealed that Jeff was fired from his job as a real estate agent after the episode where he outed Zeke aired because of all the controversy. However, at the Reunion Show, he revealed to have gotten hired by another real estate agency. He also revealed that he has been working on a book called "Surviving Shame".

Episode Tribe
Challenge Challenge Type Sit-Out? Result
1 Mana The Marooning Reward No Lost
Blue Lagoon Bustle Reward/Immunity No Lost
Serpent Turf Reward/Immunity No Lost
Switched Tribes, Day 7
2 Nuku Austin's Elemental Obstacle Course Reward/Immunity No 1st
3 Ram-Ball On Reward Yes 1st
Ow-Pairs Immunity No Lost
4 Unchained Medley Reward No 2nd
Box CarBlues Immunity No Lost
5 Cargo Salvage Immunity No Lost
6 Dulcimer Stomp Reward No Won
Plunge, Pop, Pull Immunity No Lost
Voted Out, Day 18

Episode Jeff's
Voted Against
1 Ciera -
Tony -
2 Nuku Tribe Immune
3 Sierra1 -
4 J.T. -
5 Tai -
6 None2 Andrea, Debbie, Ozzy,
Sarah, Tai, Zeke
Voted Out, Day 18

^1 In "The Tables Have Turned", Sierra used a Hidden Immunity Idol, negating Jeff's vote against her.
^2 In "What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile", instead of a standard vote, the tribe verbally voted to eliminate Jeff. Jeff himself did not cast a vote.


  • On May 13, 2001, Jeff, along with The Australian Outback cast mates Colby Donaldson and Elisabeth Filarski appeared on Rock & Roll Jeopardy!. Jeff finished in 3rd place earning $1,000 for his charity which was for a burning center for the University of North Carolina.[4]
  • On May 17, 2001, Jeff appeared as an panelist on Hollywood Squares for Survivor Week along with the rest of The Australian Outback cast.[5]
  • Jeff, along with Alicia CalawayGervase Peterson, and Susan Hawk, appeared on Big Brother 2. They competed against the final four in a luxury competition and won $15,000 to share between them.[6]
  • Jeff, along with Diane Ogden and Brandon Quinton, attended the Marquesas Reunion Show.[7]
  • Jeff attended the Survivor: Thailand Reunion Show.
  • In 2003, Jeff was one of several castaways who appeared on MTV's Men vs. Women: Rumble in the Jungle, a preview show for The Amazon and offered his commentary in the debate of which gender was stronger.[8][9]
  • Jeff worked as an entertainment reporter for KCBS in Los Angeles, CA then E! News Live, and then as a field correspondent and host for the TV Guide Channel. He was a weekend news anchor and field reporter at FOX 8 WGHP in High Point, North Carolina. In his first year in broadcast news, he won an Associated Press Broadcast News Award: Rookie of the Year, in 2005.
  • Jeff began his career in communications as a public relations assistant and corporate communications manager for Citicorp in New York City. He was part of the first team in the corporate world to utilize the internet to communicate project information as a manager in Citicorp's "Product Design and Development Division."
  • He used that background to transition into web development, working in developing web properties for Citibank, MCI, Harlequin Romance, and Martha Stewart Living Online. Jeff used his Survivor exposure to turn his web and PR career into a full-blown on-camera reporter, anchor and host.
  • In May 2007, Jeff left FOX 8 due to what he called "angry and unprofessional management" from the station's news director. He is now working for WWMT in Kalamazoo, Michigan as a News Anchor for the News Channel 3 morning news.Jeff was promoted November 27, 2008 to WWMT evening anchor. He anchors the 10pm CW7 newscast solo, then joins Judy Markee as co-anchor for Live at 11.
  • On July 27, 2009 Jeff was selected as one of the top 20 broadcasters nationwide to serve as finalist for co-host for a day on Live with Regis and Kelly. Local new viewers nominated their favorites. For two days, Regis and Kelly viewers voted for the best, and on July 29, 2009 the nationwide vote selected Jeff as co-host. He hosted August 7 with guests Susan Lucci and David Cook.[10]
  • On January 9, 2010, Jeff attended Survivor's 10-year anniversary party.
  • In 2012, Jeff became a news anchor for the CBS affiliate WNCT in Greenville, N.C.[11] He left sometime in September 2014.[12]
  • Jeff is planning to launch a travel company called Project Explorer.[13]
  • Jeff lost his job as a real estate agent in 2017 as a result of the backlash from the controversial statements he made at his elimination Tribal Council in Game Changers.[14]
    • At the Game Changers Reunion Show, he revealed to the audience that he had been hired by another real estate company.


  • Jeff's luxury item was a coloring book and crayons. The pages were later sold on eBay for charity.[15]
  • Jeff was the second of three players eliminated at Tribal Council through the "previous votes against" tiebreaker. The first was Mitchell Olson and third was Lindsey Richter in Africa.
  • Jeff received at least one vote at every Tribal Council he attended in The Australian Outback.
  • Jeff was the first male contestant to finish in 10th place, and the first male contestant to be on the merged tribe but be eliminated pre-jury.
  • Jeff has claimed to have stopped eating peanut butter after The Australian Outback.[16]
  • It has long been rumored that during the second Immunity Challenge, Kimmi Kappenberg told the opposing Ogakor tribe about Debb Eaton's vote for Jeff the night before, the rumor even being referenced on the season itself. In an interview in Rob Has a Podcast, Kimmi claimed that Jeff himself unwittingly spoiled his vote to the other tribe.[17]
  • Jeff revealed that he had a pre-game alliance with Shane Powers, who did not receive enough votes to return for Cambodia.[18]
  • Jeff is the fourth contestant in series history to play at least twice and be eliminated pre-jury every time. The others are Russell Swan, Francesca Hogi, and Colton Cumbie. They were followed by Caleb Reynolds.
    • Jeff is the only contestant to be eliminated pre-jury on their first two seasons, and return for a third season.
    • Jeff is the only contestant to be eliminated pre-jury three times.
  • Jeff is one of two returning players who competed on at least three seasons and lose the first Immunity Challenge each time. The other was Malcolm Freberg.
  • Jeff has played the fewest days out all returning players who competed on at least three seasons, with 50 days accumulated during his Survivor career.
  • In Game Changers, Jeff became the third contestant to be voted out verbally, following Ian Rosenberger in Palau and Brandon Hantz in Caramoan. They would be followed by Tori Meehan in Survivor 42 and Bhanu Gopal in Survivor 46.
  • Jeff is one of three returning players who competed on at least three seasons without ever starting on the same tribe as the season's winner. The others are Stephenie LaGrossa and Aubry Bracco.


  18. Ross, Dalton (August 26, 2015). "Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance players reveal who they are surprised did NOT make the cast". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 

Survivor: The Australian Outback Castaways
S2 alicia t
S2 amber t
S2 colby t
S2 debb t
S2 elisabeth t
S2 jeff t
S2 jerri t
S2 keith t
S2 kel t
S2 kimmi t
S2 maralyn t
S2 michael t
S2 mitchell t
S2 nick t
S2 rodger t
S2 tina t
Survivor: Cambodia Castaways
Ta Keo
S31 abimaria t
S31 andrew t
S31 ciera t
Ta Keo
S31 jeff t
S31 jeremy t
S31 joe t
S31 kass t
S31 keith t
Ta Keo
S31 kelley t
Ta Keo
S31 kelly t
S31 kimmi t
S31 monica t
Ta Keo
S31 peihgee t
Ta Keo
S31 shirin t
Ta Keo
S31 spencer t
S31 stephen t
S31 tasha t
Ta Keo
S31 terry t
Ta Keo
S31 vytas t
Ta Keo
S31 woo t
Survivor: Game Changers Castaways
S34 andrea t
S34 aubry t
S34 brad t
S34 caleb t
S34 ciera t
S34 cirie t
S34 debbie t
S34 hali t
S34 jt t
S34 jeff t
S34 malcolm t
S34 michaela t
S34 ozzy t
S34 sandra t
S34 sarah t
S34 sierra t
S34 tai t
S34 tony t
S34 troyzan t
S34 zeke t