Popular ‘Survivor’ Alum Faces Backlash After Railing Against Vaccines, Masks

Survivor Heroes vs Villains cast

CBS Cast of "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains."

Three-time “Survivor” player and one-time fan favorite Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick was once the most popular contestant in the show’s history, with her popularity peaking at 97% after her first two appearances, according to IMDb. A defining character of the show’s early seasons, Stephenie became legendary among the fanbase for becoming the last remaining member of her ill-fated Ulong tribe in season 10, “Palau,” which lost every single immunity challenge.

Stephenie, who returned to the show twice, including as a “Hero” in “Heroes vs. Villains,” recently made some controversial comments on Instagram live about COVID-19 vaccines and masks which have some fans rethinking their thoughts on the once-loved all-star.

Here’s what you need to know:

Stephenie Says COVID Vaccine ‘Doesn’t Work’ and Criticizes Mask Mandates

Stephenie LaGrossa at Survivor Heroes vs Villains finale

GettyStephenie LaGrossa at the “Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains” reunion show (2010).

In a recent Instagram live story, 42-year-old three-time contestant Stephenie LaGrossa Kendrick, a Philadelphia native who now resides in Florida, decried masks and showed herself at her children’s private Christian school in Florida.

In the story, Stephenie posted a rant in which she called the COVID-19 vaccine the “fauci ouchie that doesn’t work,” and that those who had received the vaccine “are still getting the vid [COVID] too just like the freaking common cold!” In reality, although many vaccinated people have contracted COVID, they are highly less likely to be seriously ill or die from the virus, according to the CDC.

She then proceeded to rail against mask mandates, especially those for children. “What I do care about is YOUNG children,” Stephenie wrote, “being masked up for 8 plus hours a day inside and outside!!!! while these losers are living it up. Whatever makes them money.” She went on to say that children were “Forced [to wear] masks, can’t see a teacher speaking, not being able to sit by friends, and thinking this is normal! ITS NOT!  WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!” She added that she was looking forward to the upcoming Super Bowl, which is set to take place in LA County, which she said was “in a state of emergency and omicron is ‘surging’ LMAO… makes total sense right?! 🙄🙄🙄”

She closed by saying “unmask our poor children you hypocrites.”

Stephenie’s Children Go To a Private Christian School in Florida

Stephenie, who is married to former MLB pitcher Kyle Kendrick, has three children with him: daughter Sophia, born 2011, son Kyle Jr., born 2013, and daughter Sloane, born 2018, according to her Instagram. In the Instagram live story, she included a video of herself and some young students on “recess duty” at her children’s school – Skycrest Christian School in Clearwater, Florida.

“Here we are at recess duty at our maskless school in Florida,” Stephenie said to the camera. “Normal kids playing with no masks. No more illness than any other school. Just saying’.”

Skycrest is a private school whose mission, according to their website, is “Partnering with families to prepare students to impact the world for Jesus Christ.” The website also states that “A biblical view of educating children demands parental involvement,” and that “Central to education [is] training students to explore and express Christ’s preeminence in every area of thought and life.” Although the school is opposed to masks for children, they do have some COVID precautions in place, including a 5-day quarantine for students who test positive, as well as additional cleaning and sanitizing throughout the campus each day.

Stephenie is not the first former “Survivor” to receive backlash from fans due to their controversial political statements. One-time fan favorite Reiman (formerly Spencer) Bledsoe recently faced a reckoning from fans after railing against the COVID vaccine and comparing quarantines to authoritarianism.

Joe Anglim, another formerly popular contestant, has also faced similar adverse reaction after promoting false and dangerous conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being stolen, as well as revealing his affiliation for the popular online conspiracy theory known as QAnon. Like these other contestants, fans are not responding kindly to Stephenie’s recent public statements, with one Reddit user summarizing the fanbase’s sentiment by asking, “Why are all my favorite [players] turning into crazy people[?] 🥲”

“Survivor” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Be sure to catch season 42 when it premieres March 9, 2022.

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