'I Thought They'd Never Call Me Back': Jericho's Ready To Be Sole Survivor Again
Jericho Malabonga never expected to score an invitation to 'Australian Survivor: All Stars'.
The skilled social player navigated Season 2 with exceptional stealth and famously used a secret jar of cookies to gain the trust of tribemates he wanted to enlist in his alliance.
The Cookie Monster lasted 55 days in Samoa and breezed through his final tribal council against barrel racer Tara Pitt with double the jury votes than the runner-up (6-3).
Jeri was awarded the title of Sole Survivor 2017 and pocketed $500,000 -- so how did he end up being asked to Outwit, Outlast and Outplay once more?
"When I got the call I was super stunned, I had already won so I thought, they’d never call me back," Jericho told 10 daily ahead of the 'All Stars' premiere.
"I was kind of like, 'are you sure you want me back? Because that’s taking up a position of someone else who might want to come back and win,' but obviously, I couldn’t say no."
The unassuming winner said that his willingness to fly straight back into the 'Survivor' snakepit wasn't motivated by anything else other than his deep passion for the greatest game on earth.
"People go there for money or other reasons but for me, I just really love the game," he said, adding that he "didn't want to miss an opportunity".
"A lot of people try to get on the show and have to get through more than 20,000 applications so, for me to get the call and get asked, 'hey do you want to be part of 'All Stars?' That’s quite flattering and a real honour," Jeri told 10 daily.
The 'Australian Survivor' experience is one that's shaped the winner's life in recent years,
"I’m still working full time but I just bought a house with the money I won the first time so that’s been the biggest thing in the last two years. It [‘Survivor’] definitely changed my life," he explained.
“And I could possibly be buying a second house now, we don’t know!” he cheekily laughed, refusing to give away any Season 5 secrets.
But while Jericho was able to fly under the radar in Season 2, he's walking into 'All Stars' with a cookie-shaped target on his back.
"The first time around you have no profile, everyone’s coming into an even playing field but this time around," he said. "You can’t just play the same way -- everyone knows your game, your strategy so you have to be quick on your feet and make sure that you don’t give up."
But like all skilled 'Survivor' players, the name of the game is adaptation and Jeri's already got a good idea of how he'll re-invent his identity and fool his tribe into forgetting how damned good he is at the game.
"It’s important for me to go in there and place a bigger target on someone else instead of me," he explained of his plan.
Jericho's joining fellow 'Australian Survivor' winner Shane Gould as an 'All Star', so perhaps he's setting the Olympic swimming champ in his sights.