Jeremy Collins, a member of Cambridge, MA Local 30, had always been a big fan of “Survivor.” He applied for 10 years before being chosen for Season 29 “Blood vs. Water” in Nicaragua in 2014, along with his wife, Val. In the same season, Collins competed with two other IAFF members: father and son fire fighters Keith and Wes Nale from Shreveport, LA Local 514. Keith – now retired – admits he was never a huge fan. It was his son, Wes, who would watch every week and wanted to be a contestant.
When all three were eventually voted off in Season 29, none expected to get a second chance at the $1 million prize less than a year later, but viewers voted for Collins and the elder Nale to compete again in Season 31 “Second Chance” in Cambodia.
This time, Nale stayed in the game for 37 days, but it was Brother Collins who took home the prize. “He did a good job,” says Nale. “He’s a good guy, and if it wasn’t going to be me, I’m glad it was him.”
“People liked the idea that I was a fire fighter with two kids,” says Collins, who trained for the show by restricting his diet, working out in sweats and using a sauna. “I think it helped win me a spot on the show again.”
Unbeknownst to the other players, Val was pregnant with their third child when Collins left for Survivor the second time. During a particularly tense part of the show, when it was down to the final three contestants, he revealed that they were expecting. “I didn’t plan on sharing that information unless I thought it could potentially help me, and I think it did,” says Collins.
He says being a fire fighter definitely helped prepare him for the show. “You spend a lot of time with people in close quarters. You have to know how to get along with people, even when it gets ugly at times. I think that environment definitely primed me for all types of situations.”
Returning from the show, Collins headed straight back to work. Days later, Val gave birth to their son, Remy. “It was an unreal time for me,” he says. “I got back from winning Survivor on a Wednesday, was invited down onto the field for a Patriots game on Sunday and my son was born on Monday.”