UPDATE: Since her time on “Survivor,” Elaine Stott has gotten married to her longtime girlfriend Tonya Gambrel. Fellow “Island of the Idols” castaway Dean Kowalski officiated the big day, and nearly a dozen other castaways were in attendance.
Since tying the knot, Stott and Gambrel have been busy traveling. They went ATV riding at Windrock Park in Tennessee, celebrated Mother’s Day together and took a road trip to Springfield, Ohio, for a wedding.
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Elaine Stott is definitely one of the most colorful characters on Survivor: Island of the Idols. In fact, Stott is right up there with some of the best characters over the 39 seasons the show has been on the air.
On the Oct. 30 episode, she pulled off a terrific blindside on Jason Linden with the help of her alliance-mates Elizabeth Beisel, Aaron Meredith, and Missy Byrd. Can she keep it together enough to go all the way? Sometimes being too well-liked can be a curse on Survivor, but time will tell.
Here’s everything you need to know about this delightful castaway.
1. Elaine is a Factory Worker from Kentucky
This 41-year-old castaway is a born and raised Kentuckian. She tells Parade magazine that her hometown of Woodbine is “a small, redneck town,” but it’s home.
She went to college for Psychology and Movement & Leisure Studies, but her friend got her hired on at a car parts factory and she worked there 15 years before quitting to go on Survivor. She hated the work, but it paid the bills.
She tells Parade, “My grandpa partly raised me and told me, ‘It don’t matter if you like it. If it pays the bills and puts food on the table, it’s what you have to do.'”
2. She Doesn’t Have Time for Your Nonsense
In her Survivor profile, Elaine lists her pet peeves as “guys who think women aren’t their equals, girls who think they need to use their body to get ahead, and people who think their sh*t don’t stink!,” which is definitely in line with the way she’s been playing Survivor.
Also in preparation for the show, this pint-sized truck driver tells the Corbin, Kentucky Times Tribune that she joined CrossFit 606 and lost 20 pounds before filming started, saying she got accepted for the show when she was “in the worst shape” she’s ever been in.
“I gained 50 pounds in three years sitting on a fork truck and then I finally get the call. It’s the heaviest I’ve ever been,” says Stott.
3. Jeff Probst Thinks She Could Win It All
In a preview profile on Elaine, host Jeff Probst said he thought she would be a favorite this season.
“Elaine is going to be an early favorite. I think one of those players on Survivor that is a one-name player,” says Probst. “There’s never been anybody like Elaine on the show and I think people are going to instantly know who she is and root for her to win this game.”
Elaine added that she’s taking a page out of the Talledega Nights playbook.
“My strategy is I want to be everybody’s sidekick. I want someone to be my Ricky Bobby, I need to be Cal Naughton Jr. and win the damn thing in the end, you know what I mean?” says Stott with a laugh.
4. Her Godmother Inspired Her Survivor Journey
Elaine actually tried out for Survivor four times before being chosen as a contestant. In between her different auditions for the show, she was beleaguered with personal tragedy.
She tells Parade that after her first tryout, she had to take care of her grandpa, who got sick. Then after he passed away, her godmother came to her and told her to try out for Survivor again, but she still wasn’t chosen.
This time around, she is dedicating her game to her godmother, who, in the eight months leading up to the season airing, lost her daughter, husband, and dog and also had a stroke.
“My godmother has been a mother to me. She’s everything to me since my mother just passed three months ago,” says Stott, adding that her godmother basically forced her to try out for Survivor again.
“She basically said, ‘If you don’t do this, I’m gonna die.’ [laughs] So I decided the day before I would go one last time, to give her something to look forward to. As soon as I found out, I called my godmother, and she started bawling. It’s been pretty cool.”
Elaine says the only bad thing about the situation is that her godmother was always going to be her loved one who visited her on Survivor if she made it that far and now because of her stroke, she can’t.
5. Elaine and Her Girlfriend Got Engaged This Past Summer
Elaine and her girlfriend, Tonya, became engaged at the end of July. She tells Parade they’ve been together for four years and that Tonya warned her not to get too flirty with the other contestants.
“I’ve got to keep that [expletive] in check because she warned me and threatened to cut my throat,” says Stott with a laugh. “‘I’ll murder you if you let some girl put your hair up or if you sleep next to them in the shelter.’ I would never do anything to put my relationship in jeopardy.”
If Stott’s Instagram is any indication, she and Tonya are incredibly happy together. Stott also does YouTube videos with Tonya’s son, which are super adorable.