March 01, 2023
Brandon Cottom spent years watching "Survivor" as a way to bond with his father. Now, the 30-year-old Newtown, Bucks County resident will compete for a chance to win $1 million on the long-running reality TV competition.
The 44th "Survivor" season debuts at 8 p.m. Monday on CBS. Cottom will be joined by 17 other contestants, including Pittsburgh resident Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt, a native of Puerto Rico.
Cottom, who now works as a security specialist, is best known for his football career. After four years at Purdue University, Cottom spent two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, mostly on injured reserve. He never appeared in a game. He later joined the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League before retiring at the end of the 2019 season.
Though Cottom spent much of his childhood watching "Survivor," including its series debut in 2000, he told Parade that he stopped watching the show once he went off to college. But after he moved back to Newtown, he and his dad picked up where they left off.
Cottom viewed going to Fiji to compete on "Survivor" as an opportunity to learn more about himself and create a better future for his family, he told Parade.
"It's very rare that we have the opportunity to kind of detach ourselves from civilization," Cottom said. "Taking away all distractions of social media and everything, there's no chance you get to really detach from everything and focus on yourself and who you want to be. I think that 'Survivor' really pulls that out of everybody, whether they like it or not."
Cottom compared himself to Jeremy Collins, a Massachusetts firefighter who won "Survivor: Cambodia" in 2015, noting that "he knew he was going to be a physical threat" and played that to his advantage.
In terms of non-winners, Cottom said that he was inspired by Danny McCray, a Season 41 contestant and former free safety for the Dallas Cowboys, who placed sixth overall during his season without any contestants learning of his NFL career.
In his "Survivor" introduction, Cottom called himself a "jack-of-all-trades" who will prove to be an important asset to the "Raku" tribe, one of three groups that the contestants were divided into. As a seasoned athlete, Cottom said he expected to easily win challenges and improve morale.
Host Jeff Probst told TV Insider that Season 44 will include the series' first "showmance" in seven seasons. Though he did not provide any information on when the romance would develop, he harkened back to the Season 37 romance between Dan Rengering and Kara Kay, who broke up before the finale episode.