Knoxville native hopes youth will help him win new season of 'Survivor'

Erin Hatfield # State

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Another Knoxville native is following in the footsteps of Tina Wesson, her daughter Katie Collins, as well as Hali Ford to compete on the reality TV show "Survivor."

Michael Yerger, 18, will be competing as part of the "Malolo Tribe" on the 36th season, "Ghost Island." The twist this season? The two groups of 10 will have to grapple with the bad decisions of past survivors. There will be a separate, haunted island with relics from past seasons that were used incorrectly and participants will try to "reverse the curse."

"'Survivor' continues to be a complicated game of social politics, and everything rests on one’s ability to make the right decision at the right time,”
executive producer and host Jeff Probst said.
“This season, 'Ghost Island' serves as a constant reminder that one bad decision can haunt a player forever.”

As for Yerger, the Knoxville native who's "kind of a country boy at heart" currently works as a real estate agent in Los Angeles. He said he's a people person who plans to portray himself as 23 years old so other players don't count him out quickly.

"My biggest motivation to be here is to be the youngest winner ever,"
Yerger said.
"I mean, I want to be the 18-year-old sole survivor and I don't really think there's any title better than that. I don't have all the life experiences that all the other players have, but ignorance is bliss and I think my positive experiences will keep me going."

Yerger's friends told Local 8 News the contestant graduated from Bearden High School in 2016 before flying out to live in Los Angeles.

Donathan Hurley, 26, is competing with Yerger on the "Malolo Tribe" as well. He's from nearby Phelps, Kentucky.

"Survivor" returns with a two-hour premiere on Feb. 28. It airs at 8 p.m. on WVLT.

Meet "Survivor" contestant Michael Yerger