Beyond Vassar

Surviving Vassar: VQ talks with Survivor-winner Ethan Zohn '96

By Veronika Ruff '01

Since winning the reality show Survivor, Ethan Zohn ’96 has been bouncing between coasts, networks, and television personalities like it’s his job. And it may as well be. Zohn, the bio major/pro soccer player/inventor/nice guy hybrid edged out 15 other stubborn Survivors to take home one million dollars. In the weeks following his win, America’s sweetheart graciously remembered the little people, contacting for an interview. We spoke on the phone, as the internationally adored star was whisked through the streets of New York to the CBS studios.

VQ So, does the cabby recognize you?

EZ No, today I’m in my disguise ... a hat. Without it, everyone approaches me on the street. With the hat, no one.

VQ Yeah, that hair of yours... well, that’s lucky I guess, that you can go all stealth so easily. Now, since many of our readers have probably heard all the standard interview answers (you know, like, what are you going to do with the money?, etc.), I want to ask you some Vassar-specific questions. Favorite course?

EZ East Asian Folk Traditions

VQ Favorite professor?

EZ Uh-oh. Am I going to offend anyone here? [Assistant Professor of Biology] Meg Ronsheim, my thesis adviser

VQ Favorite place on campus?

EZ The soccer field over by the THs

VQ Favorite VC memory?

EZ [laughing] Founder’s Day, my senior year — we’ll leave it at that. Although, that might tie with our soccer team winning the ECACs during my junior year.

VQ Favorite food at the Retreat?

EZ Those [Nilda’s] chocolate chip cookies. God, those were great.

VQ Those are good. Ok, enough of that. Did Vassar give you any of the skills you needed to “outwit, outplay, and outlast” Survivor: Africa?

EZ Nothing can really prepare you for the Survivor thing, but Vassar definitely helped in that it allowed me to meet and get along with so many different people.... A lot of other schools may not combine that mix of people with such a small community.

VQ Why didn’t you mention Vassar on the show?

EZ You have to remember the number of hours they taped that had to be edited down into neat episodes. I actually talked about Vassar a lot; they just cut it. The same thing happened with my brothers.

VQ Tell me about your inventions...

EZ I might as well stick with the Crunch Bowl since I’ve already let that one out of the bag, and I’m sure someone’s out there patenting it as we speak. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve been thinking of things to invent, but I never had the money to patent them so they’ve all just been in my head and my little invention book. One I thought of while sitting around in college, basically so we wouldn’t have to get off the couch. The Crunch Bowl is a cereal bowl shaped like a swimming pool. There’s a deep end where you pour in the milk, but you can keep some cereal in the shallow end so it stays crunchy until the end.

VQ Brilliant — I’d buy one. Well, thank you for taking time out for the interview, and again, congratulations.

EZ You’re very welcome, and thank you, too.

To read more about Zohn, visit The Ethan Zone.