‘Survivor’ Runner-Up Dead at 66

Survivor Thailand cast photo

CBS Official cast photo of "Survivor: Thailand."

The “Survivor” community has lost yet another contestant from its early days: season 5, “Thailand” runner-up Clay Jordan. Here’s everything we know so far.

Clay Jordan Dead at 66

Clay Jordan

CBSClay Jordan’s official “Survivor: Thailand” cast photo.

Clay Jordan, who was widely known for his prominent inclusion in an otherwise rather poorly received season, has died at 66. Shanda Jordan, Clay’s daughter, revealed in a Facebook post that Clay died Thursday.

“Clay Brooks Jordan, my sweetheart of a Dad, went to heaven to meet Jesus and be reunited with his beautiful bride!” Shanda wrote. “We love you, Dad! You will forever be my HERO!”

According to People, his death occurred after a “short illness.”

Jordan, a restaurant owner from Monroe, Louisiana, was 46 when he competed in “Survivor: Thailand” in 2002. He won one immunity challenge throughout his run on the season (in episode 9, the first challenge after the merge), and ended up making it to the final 2 in part due to the dominance of his tribe, Chuay Gahn. He lost the final immunity challenge, but was chosen by his 34-year-old tribemate, Brian Heidik, a used car salesman, to go to the final 2 with him.

Heidik ended up winning in a close 4-3 vote, though Jordan did secure the votes of Erin Collins, Ken Stafford, and Penny Ramsey, all members of Sook Jai – Chuay Gahn’s opposing tribe. Jordan may have lost some votes in the end in part due to accusations of racism by his fellow tribemate, Ted Rogers, who was Black, and who called him an “ignorant, southern, redneck hillbilly” at the Final Tribal Council. The racism accusations were vague, however, and were vociferously denied by Jordan.

Clay Jordan Had Many Memorable ‘Survivor’ Moments

Clay Jordan gets choked

YouTubeClay Jordan gets choked by Robb Zbacnik in episode 3 of “Survivor: Thailand.”

Although “Thailand” has been widely described by fans and critics alike as one of, if not the, worst seasons of the franchise, there have certainly been some memorable moments. Many fans will remember Jordan’s iconic vote for Ghandia Johnson in episode 4, in which he wrote, “Bye bye Denver Diva” on the voting parchment, causing host Jeff Probst to interrupt the vote reading for the first time in the show’s history to ask who the vote was meant for.

“Well for the first time I have a vote, I have no idea who it belongs to,” Probst said at the time. When Jordan confirmed it was for Johnson, Probst replied, “In the future, write a name down, okay? Enough with the nicknames.” Johnson would end up being voted out that night.

Jordan also had a memorable moment in the episode 3 reward challenge, in which he was choked by opposing tribe member, 23-year-old Robb Zbacnik, causing Zbacnik to be disqualified from the challenge (though Probst said it was because he was not properly in the “attack zone” at the time of the choking).

Jordan is also sometimes known for being “Survivor’s” first unofficial “goat,” i.e. a person dragged to the end by someone else because they are easily beatable. Heidik was known for making multiple final 2 deals with his other Chuay Gahn tribemates, and presumably chose Jordan in the end because he was easy to beat.

Though Heidik said openly in the final episode that he did not know which of the two of them would win, there is still some substance to this idea, as Jordan became the first “Survivor” finalist to not win the final immunity challenge yet lose the game; consequently, Heidik became the first winner of the final immunity challenge to win the game.

Be sure to catch the three-hour “Survivor 42” finale Wednesday, May 25, 2022, at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

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