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Army spouse and two-time 'Survivor' winner returns to show, but this time it's 'stress-free'

This edition features two previous winners, Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine, who return to the game to serve as mentors.

ROBERT VOETS/CBS ENTERTAINMENT

By RODGER MULLEN | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: September 25, 2019

(Tribune News Service) ⁠— Fans of "Survivor" will notice a familiar face when the show debuts its 39th season Wednesday: Army spouse and two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine.

But this time, Diaz-Twine said, is a lot different.

"The good thing about it is I'm just there to mentor," she said. "I don't have to worry about strategizing and getting voted off. For me, it really felt stress-free."

Diaz-Twine is featured as a mentor along with "Boston" Rob Mariano on "Survivor: Island of the Idols," which debuts with a 90-minute episode that begins at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) on CBS.

As long-time fans know, the show gathers a group of competitors in a remote location as they try to "outwit, outplay and outlast" each other and win a million dollars. Contestants are voted off until only the winner remains.

"Survivor: Island of the Idols" is set in Fiji. It was filmed earlier this year.

Diaz-Twine, 45, won the show's "Pearl Island" season in 2003 and the "Heroes vs. Villians" season in 2010. She also competed in the "Game Changers" season in 2017, but did not win.

Mariano won the "Redemption Island" season in 2011.

"Combined, Boston Rob and Sandra have played over 200 days of Survivor, and now they plan to share what they've learned with the new castaways," reads a description on the CBS website. "The players will then attempt to put those learned skills to the test and chase the title of Sole Survivor — not to mention the $1 million grand prize."

Twenty contestants in two tribes will be competing this year.

As the only two-time winner of the show, Diaz-Twine said she feels she has a lot of wisdom to pass along to the contestants. She said she and Mariano represent part of the "Mount Rushmore" of the show.

"All the players knew who I was, so they valued my opinion in the game," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Diaz-Twine said winning the show changed her life. For one thing, it freed her from living paycheck to paycheck, she said.

Currently, Diaz-Twine is living in Tampa, Florida, where her husband is stationed. She said she plans to return to Fayetteville, N.C., after her husband retires from the military in a couple of years.

Diaz-Twine said she still hears from fans of the show. Some, she said, don't realize that the show is filmed before it airs.

"A lot of people see me and they say, 'I hope you smile more next episode,' " Diaz-Twine said. "They don't realize it was filmed months ago."

©2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
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