Jeff Zausch on Naked and Afraid XL: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Jeff Zausch on Naked and Afraid XL has spent 121 days surviving Discovery Channel’s missions, returning again and again for another challenge. He questioned whether he would “survive to see the next sunrise” during Season 5 Episode 8.

Jeff completed survival missions as a child before he decided to bare all on “Naked and Afraid” and “Naked Afraid XL.” But even with years as a survivalist under his belt, he never experienced anything like he did on Season 5 Episode 8 of “Naked and Afraid XL: Jeff’s Worst Nightmare,” which airs on Discovery Channel at 8 p.m. EST Sunday July 14, 2019.

“The group is devastated when two critical survivalists leave the challenge;” the episode’s description says, “with just 10 days left before extraction, Jeff is forced to change his survival strategy, but a medical emergency puts him on the verge of a tap out.”

Zausch told East Idaho News the 60 days he spent in the Phillipines was his most extreme challenge yet.

“This series that I just got done filming has by far the most life and death moments,” he said. “This is the first time ever, in one of these challenges, that I thought that my partner might not live through the night. It’s also … the first challenge I’ve ever done in my life where I questioned whether I would survive to see the next sunrise.”

Jeff Zausch credits his survival skills to his father, who had a heart defect and survived much longer than his doctors expected.

He started giving himself survival challenges as a young child, camping out in the mountains near his rural Idaho home. At age 9, he spent the night alone during a blizzard with temperatures 15 degrees below zero.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. ‘I Questioned Whether I Would Survive to See the Next Sunrise,’ Jeff said
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TOMORROW. 8PM EST on @discovery I think Theodore Roosevelt says it best: ”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt Photo by: @davidewestphotography #TheFirst #LetsDoThis #NeighborsNotRoommates #NakedAndAfraidXL #nakedandafraid #nakedandafraidsavage #jeffandlaura #survival #survivor #survivalist #wilderness #wildernessculture #wildernesssurvival #philippines #impossible #hungry #expedition #adventure #adventuretime #survivalsunday #savage #travel #travelblogger #tvhost #tvshows #discovery #bushcraft #largadosepelados #largadosepeladosatribo @nakedandafraidtv #quotes

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Jeff Zausch nearly tapped out during his 60-day survival venture in the Philippines on Season 5, Episode 8 of “Naked and Afraid XL: Jeff’s Worst Nightmare” because of a medical emergency.

He clearly survived the episode to talk about it. He was interviewed by East Idaho News at the end of filming. He spent 121 days stripping down for Discovery Channel’s extreme survival reality show challenges, but never had an experience as difficult as his time in the Philippines. During the season, he wondered if both he and his partner, Laura Zerra, would survive the season.

Jeff Zausch has been a recurrent face on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid shows.

“This series that I just got done filming has by far the most life and death moments,” he said. “This is the first time ever, in one of these challenges, that I thought that my partner might not live through the night. It’s also … the first challenge I’ve ever done in my life where I questioned whether I would survive to see the next sunrise.”

The episode description said Jeff Zausch nearly tapped out on season 5 episode 8.

“The group is devastated when two critical survivalists leave the challenge; with just 10 days left before extraction, Jeff is forced to change his survival strategy, but a medical emergency puts him on the verge of a tap out,” the episode’s description said.

He shared a photo on Instagram to promote the episode, along with a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.

“TOMORROW. 8PM EST on @discovery,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I think Theodore Roosevelt says it best: ”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt”


2. At Age 9, He Spent The Night In The Mountains During a Blizzard

Jeff Zausch gave himself his first true test of survival when he was only 9 years old. During a severe blizzard near his rural Idaho home. When he heard the forecast of 3 feet of snow and temperatures dropping to 15 below 0, he decided it was the perfect time to test his skills, according to his Discovery biography.

“His mother had let him spend numerous nights in the mountains by himself but never under such life threatening conditions,” the bio said. “With the help of his father, he was able to persuade his mother to let him test his skills by camping overnight in the storm, high up in the mountains behind their house. This experience changed Jeff forever. From that moment on he continued to push the limits of human survival in the outdoors and was always on the lookout for a new challenge.”

Leading up to his biggest survival challenge, he would spend his afternoons and evenings exploring the mountains, returning home well after dark.

3. Jeff Learned Survival From His Dad, Who Had a Heart Defect

Jeff Zausch learned to survive from his father, who was born with a heart defect and proved doctors’ expectations wrong when he survived to adulthood. His father died shortly before Season 2 of “Naked and Afraid,” where survivalists challenged their skills in Madagascar, according to Jeff’s biography.

Jeff’s dad had his first open-heart surgery at only 5 1/2 weeks old, when that type of surgery was still very new. Discovery wrote in the bio the surgery was one of the first of its kind in the world. He had nine more heart surgeries over the course of his life.

“This ability to conquer, overcome and survive soon became a permanent part of his character,” the bio said. “Jeff’s father was the best survivalist that he ever met. Every-day of his life was a fight for survival. He taught Jeff how to be mentally strong even when the odds were against him. He taught Jeff how to succeed even when others said it’s impossible. Simply put, Jeff’s father taught him how to survive.”

Jeff’s survival is a part of his father’s legacy.

“This legacy that his dad left behind is the same one that [Jeff] tries to live by – to never quit, never give-up, and always succeed, even when others say it’s impossible,” the biography said.

Jeff Zausch shared a photo of him with his father in 2015. It said, “Today’s “Throwback Thursday” moment goes back to the 7 year old me. That happy boy had everything in life that he could ever want. Where his #1 hero was his Dad and his #1 girl was his Mom.”


4. He Has Spent 121 Days On Naked and Afraid & Naked and Afraid XL

Jeff Zausch clearly can’t get enough of showing off his survival skills while being filmed. Before Naked and Afraid XL, Jeff Zausch and his partner, Laura Zerra, completed back-to-back challenges, completing Naked and Afraid’s typical 21-day challenge followed immediately by Naked and Afraid XL’s 40-day challenge.

“It’s crazy to even think about,” Zausch told PEOPLE. “That’s two months without clothes, without a proper meal, living out in the wilderness. There was a lot of mental preparation involved. If you’re not mentally strong, you’re not going to make it.”

He has spent a total of 121 days on Naked and Afraid and Naked and Afraid XL. He also co-hosted “Dual Survival.”

Jeff has returned to the series over and over again, spending 21 days in the Madagascar desert and 40 days in Columbia. On the current season of “Naked and Afraid XL,” he is attempting to survive 60 days in the Philippines for the show’s longest stretch.

“I do it for the thrill, the adventure and the joy that I feel when I make a big kill or when I pull myself out of a very terrible life-or-death situation,” he told East Idaho News. “That type of joy that I feel, I only feel it doing these types of challenges. That’s why I keep going back. I guess I’m addicted to the thrill and addicted to the feeling of accomplishment.”

After his first stint on “Naked and Afraid,” he posted on Instagram in 2014 that a petition was circulating to bring him back to the show.

“I love my fans!!” he wrote. “Evidently there’s a petition to get me back on the show!”


5. Jeff Zausch Pleaded Guilty to Pleaded Insurance Fraud in 2015

Jeff Zausch was convicted of felony insurance fraud in 2015 for trying to file a vehicle accident claim when he did not have full coverage, according to the Idaho Office of the Attorney General.

The judge gave him a withheld judgement and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service. He was placed on probation for three years at the time. He was also ordered to pay Geico $376 in restitution and pay a $1,250 fine, according to a press release.

He entered a guilty plea to a felony count of insurance fraud September 8, 2015, admitting that he knowingly gave an insurance company false information about the date of an accident, the Office of the Attorney General wrote.

Zausch was involved in an accident February 3, 2014. His vehicle was towed. The next day, he called to change his policy from liability to full coverage, which he added to the policy 16 days later. He then filed a claim, saying he was in an accident Feb. 18, 2014, the press release announced.

Zausch shared a meme of himself on Instagram the day after the sentencing October 19, 2015, which said, “Knocking me down is the easy part. If you want to keep me there, you’re going to have to try harder.”

He captioned the post, “To all those who wish to throw me punches. #KeepOnSwinging”