I recently binged all of Survivor Millenials vs. Generation X to write this player preview of Jay. I had watched the season before, but this time I was watching with my focus on Jay. My biggest takeaways are that Jay has the heart of an elite competitor, is very talented in terms of speaking ability, mental prowess, and is a solid athlete. Jay is a throwback challenger, where he is someone who will get into an intense fight with a player, and then after they lose, they shake their hands, and the ill-will is gone. On Survivor, when Jay lost, he left with a smile because he knew he left everything out on the playing field.
Looking at all his skills, I could easily see Jay succeeding on this show; and in all honesty, he’s the type of personality you can make a staple for the franchise. However, Jay has one massive problem entering this show: he’s super skinny. While an old modeling profile listed at him at a decent 5'10 and 160 lbs (I’d subtract an inch and 10 lbs), that’s small in a Challenge house. When you are a rookie who is that size, people are likely going to target you immediately as they don’t think you’ll do well in an elimination. Especially on a season like this where you have to win an elimination to make the final. People are going to look at Jay and go, “I want that guy in Hall Brawl or a tug of war or Balls In.” On paper, Jay has all the skills to do well. Cohutta has proved over the years to be an excellent competitor, but sometimes you can’t overcome certain eliminations.
Jay will have his work cut out for him this season.
Introducing Jay: He debuted on reality television in 2016 as part of the cast of Survivor Millenials vs. Gen X. As part of the Millennial side, Jay became quick friends with two people (Taylor and Figgy) who fit Jay’s personality and aesthetic. They were stereotyped by the other Millenials as the “cool kids.” He played a good social game in the fact people liked him and maybe would have voted for him in a jury vote. Sadly, in the end, Jay didn’t have the connections to keep him in the game.
Jay then appeared on Ex on the Beach 2 as an ex of Morgan Willet, Bananas’ current casual partner, and War of the Worlds 1 cast member. They got back together in the house, and then Morgan went on the Challenge and has been casual with Bananas since.
He is not a fan of Johnny Bananas and will be gunning for him if he gets power. What I like about Jay is that when he talked about his family on Survivor, the bro in him went out the window, and there was a genuine authenticity and humbleness about him. You can tell he has worked hard to become the man he is now. Before he was on reality television, Jay was a real-estate agent who had to use charm and charisma to put food on the table. On his Survivor entry survey, he put his most proud achievement was buying his own house before the age of 30. Jay is a real person who has become a reality television competitor, and he is making the most of it.
Jay Starrett: 30 years old, 5'10, 160 lbs*, ROOKIE
Skills and Physical Strength: On Survivor, Jay was protecting himself by doing well in the challenges. The guy was quick on his feet, agile, had a great sense of balance, and was able to solve puzzles. He is an avid rock climber, which makes you assume he is perfectly adept for any of the heights’ daily challenges or anything which requires grip strength.
Jay will probably surprise people in daily challenges. Paulie and Cohutta are small guys too, and they kill daily challenges. If he doesn’t want to get targeted immediately, then he needs to pick up wins early (an arduous task). From a pure skill-set point of view, I don’t think Jay and Fessy are too far off. Yeah, Fessy is much larger, faster, and more athletic, but Jay is way smarter, has more of a killer instinct, and can run a final. The big difference is people will be terrified of Fessy, and they won’t be afraid of Jay.
People will say, “oh well, Paulie does well now.” Paulie got voted into the first elimination of Final Reckoning and spent twelve years in the Redemption House, and then entered a showmance with the female face of the Challenge. You need to scratch and claw for everything when you’re not the big guy. Jay does have a fighter’s personality, and he will scratch and claw for everything.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: His most significant connection entering this season is Nelson. He and Nelson were on Ex on the Beach together and even did an AfterBuzzTV recap together. I would love for these two to align on this season because Jay is intelligent, and Nelson has always needed a strong political player on his side. Likewise, Jay can use Nelson’s connections from prior seasons, and they can attack Johnny Bananas together.
I do expect Johnny Bananas to target Jay early because it is easy to focus on a rookie, and it will act as a smokescreen for his eventual plan to gun for Wes. Jay needs to play the game hard and make some noise if he wants to get cast for multiple seasons. If he is only the chill version of himself, he’ll still get targeted early. Jay needs to set up rivalries, exes, and play the game.
From a mental perspective, Jay proved he was able to solve puzzles on Survivor. Although the final challenge he played in and came up short in, he forgot to cover a puzzle that he solved first, and it would have given him a massive lead for the final puzzle in the obstacle course. Everyone copied Jay’s solved puzzle, were able to catch up to him, and because of it, he lost out on immunity. The little stuff like that matters on the Challenge. At least Jay learned never to make that same mistake.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: We have seen people Jay’s size like Cohutta succeed in eliminations. Not all eliminations are headbangers. Jay has the advantage as he can carry his body-weight like nothing. He has experience from Survivor, where the immunity challenges mentally put you through a ringer as your body is physically exhausted. Put Jay in something that’s half physical and half mental, and he will adopt a strategy to win.
If you put him in a Pole Wrestle or a Hall Brawl, his chances are slim to none. Yet, that’s part of the Challenge. Jay could easily be an early exit if the elimination is overtly physical, and it sucks because the guy has all the other skills you want in a competitor.
Can he win? It’s hard to imagine him getting to a final considering he does not have many allies going in, will get targeted due to his size, and then also, it’s simply hard to make a final. Oh, and we still have no clue if he’s good at the Challenge.