Challenge Double Agents Player Preview: Jay Starrett
I felt last season that I was very optimistic about Jay’s potential on this show. However, even I didn’t expect him to take out CT in elimination in such dramatic fashion. Jay immediately became a huge fan favorite by winning the first two male eliminations last season, trying his hardest in daily challenges, and bringing an overall good vibe to the show. When I got to interview him last season, he revealed his love for the show and the fact that even though he liked Survivor, his goal was to always be on the Challenge. Now, it seems like he is lining himself up to be a staple for the franchise. Jay was grinding his ass off in his early 20s, working as a realtor, and now in his 30’s, he gets to live his dream, traveling the world and competing on the Challenge.
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Introducing Jay: He debuted on reality television in 2016 as part of the cast of Survivor Millenials vs. Gen X. Jay was a solid Survivor competitor who had a realistic shot of winning as he had a fantastic social game and won two individual immunities. Unfortunately, he got voted out at Final 6, and his dream of becoming Sole Survivor was over. He later appeared on MTV’s Ex on the Beach Season 2, showing up as Morgan Willet’s Ex. They were together to end the show, and a few days later, she went to film War of the Worlds 1 and began an entanglement with Johnny Bananas that is now a full-on relationship. When interviewing Jay last season, he revealed he has no ill will towards Bananas, but there was an incident where Jay cursed out Bananas for leaving his dirty shoes on Jay’s bed.
His foray into the Challenge universe has been successful, even though he was only on five episodes last season. The big thing for Jay last season is he earned his stripes. Now that he has the respect of his fellow competitors, it’s way less likely that he gets thrown into early eliminations. Also, he now has social connections for potential alliances. If you are likable with no enemies and perform well, you should be able to make it to the half-way point. Simultaneously, Jay’s size will always be a thin shadow lurking over his Challenge career. Wes and Jordan are the most recent male winners closest in size to Jay, and they were each five-tool players and legends of the franchise. For Jay to be in that winner’s circle, he needs to become a little bigger, a bit stronger, faster, better with puzzles, and savvier politically.
Jay Starrett: 31 years old, 5'10, 160 lbs*, 1 Season, 2–1 Elimination Record, Highest Finish: 12th Place
Skills and Physical Strength: Jay always did well in immunity challenges on Survivor. Their challenges are more focused on obstacle courses, puzzles, grip-strength, and muscular endurance. He was great at all those things, mostly since his slender frame was more advantageous in that game. Jay can carry his weight and hold himself up with ease. It only becomes a problem when forced to face off with someone much bigger than him. The immediate and easy comparison for Jay is someone like Cohutta. Jay is a bit taller than Cohutta, but each comes onto their seasons as the smallest guys weight-wise. Fortunately for Jay, it looks like Joseph Allen weighs less, so he doesn’t have to be the smallest guy out there this time around.
As a rock-climber, the guy has good grip strength. He is a quick thinker, which is enormous because, on the Challenge, you get thrown so many carnival-game type activities that you will fail if you don’t immediately have a strategy. It’s part of the reason he was able to beat CT last season. Jay needs to play to his strengths, likely heights challenges, puzzles, and obstacle courses. Where he will falter is in the tests of strength and physical-race-type activities. His goal should be in the middle of the pack when it comes to the more athletic challenges. While Jay is fit and crafty, he isn’t the natural athlete that some of the other men on this show are.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Jay entered last season in an alliance with Fessy; thus, I expect that continue this season. Likewise, he is on good terms with people like Big T and Nany. I hope he and Natalie Anderson to have some bond as the two Survivor people immediately. Other than that, Jay is mostly a Free Agent. He doesn’t have to deal with any Dee stuff as she got banned from the franchise. From a strategy perspective, his best play is to stay as long as possible. Jay is in a good position; his focus should be to create friendships for future seasons to play a more active political game in the future. If he tries to go for big plays this season, it will likely come back to bite him as he doesn’t have much protection in the form of a bigger group.
He is smarter than most Challenge cast members in terms of the mental game, so I expect him to do well comparatively in puzzles and trivia. He solved some puzzles on Survivor, which are generally a few levels higher than Challenge puzzles.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Jay would lose in Hall Brawl, Pole Wrestle, Balls In, or Reverse Tug of War against most men on this show. He needs to steer clear of headbangers if possible. Nothing would crush my soul more than watching Jay lose to someone like Josh because the elimination was size-based. Jay proved adept in the more cardio-based eliminations last season, beating Asaf (a dancer) in an elimination focused on muscular endurance and balance. He also beat CT in a more extreme version of Knot So Fast, the elimination that I ranked as the best elimination in Challenge history earlier this year. In the games where you have to think on your feet, I’m always going to hedge towards Jay succeeding. If it’s a physical battle, I will take his opponent most of the time.
Can Jay win? Last season, I said he had no shot. This season, I say he actually has a chance. It’s not a big chance as a physical elimination could send him home quickly, and we’ve also never seen him win a daily challenge, so to say he can win a final is a massive stretch. Regardless, he is someone who has the cardiovascular and mental ability to win one. The guys that win finals are the ones who can eat gross foods, swim, do puzzles, etc. Jay is that. It’s just hard to envision him making the final unless he dominates daily challenges.