After three stints on the show and two battles with cancer, the 46-year-old admits he would come back for a fourth round – but only if he was playing Aussie competitors.
“That’s probably the only thing I would do,” he says.
“Some form of international All Star version of Survivor. There’s so many countries that are using the brand and having their own … tell the powers that be for me!”
A former professional soccer player, Zohn won the third season of Survivor in the US in 2001.
He used his $1.5 million prize money to create Grassroot Soccer, an adolescent health organisation.
Going on to compete in Survivor: All Stars in 2004 and a string of other reality TV shows, including The Amazing Race, Zohn hit the headlines for another reason in 2009.
He was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called CD20+ Hodgkin’s lymphoma and went into remission after undergoing a series of stem cell treatments and chemotherapy.
However, nearly 20 months later, his cancer returned, and the motivational speaker and philanthropist underwent another stem-cell transplant before he was given the all clear again in 2012.
As an investor in a cannabis farm, and a good friend of Aussie star Olivia Newton John, Zohn credits medical marijuana with helping his recovery. It’s also proving useful for treating his anxiety during isolation as part of COVID-19, Zohn explains.
“After each bout of cancer, I was in complete isolation for 100 days, so I’m used to it. I’m fearful of this virus, I don’t know what it would do to someone like me so I’m being extra careful and I’m not leaving the house. I’m good to go for a year without leaving the house.”
It was Zohn’s second battle with cancer that encouraged him to compete in another season of Survivor.
“I was stuck in a hospital getting my second stem cell transplant and I was literally watching the show thinking, ‘If I stay alive, I would love to play again and to build myself up’,” he recalls.
“I just prayed and dreamed I would be strong enough to play again. That was a goal of mine. For me, to just get to day one was a gift and a miracle. I’m just happy I was around to play again.”
When Zohn got the call about Winners at War, he and wife Lisa Heywood, an interior designer, moved from their New Hampshire home to Atlanta, where he hired a trainer and spent three months physically and mentally preparing for the season.
“I did puzzles and knots and read a body language book [and] a lip-reading book,” he says.
“I met with psychologists to learn about personality types and researched everyone I thought might be on the show.”
With an increased prize of $3 million, Zohn says there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do to remain in the competition – including almost dying.
After being sent to the Edge of Extinction early in the game, the affable reality star was almost forced to leave the show after collapsing during a particularly gruelling challenge.
“Yeah it was the worst,” he admits. “It was definitely torture. I pride myself on being physically fit but I just had a horrible day and my body couldn’t take it.”
Despite passing out mid-challenge, Zohn put in a superhuman effort and went on to finish, leaving him to continue to fight another day in the competition.
“They gave me a cold bottle of water and electrolytes – it was like someone injected me with adrenaline,” he remembers.
“My biggest fear was that the doctors were going to tell me I had to leave the show. There was no way in hell I was going to make the choice to leave the show. I couldn’t forgive myself if I quit.”