UNLV student goes out with a bang as first boot on season 46 of ‘Survivor’

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David “Jelinsky” Jelinsky from the CBS Original Series SURVIVOR, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. -- Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2023 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

On Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, UNLV student David Jelinsky made his mark in the supersized two-hour long premiere episode of Survivor titled “This is Where Legends are Made,” named after his very own quote: “This is where great Survivors are made. This is where legends are made. Jelinsky is a legend.”

With 18 castaways competing for the million dollar prize, the tension and excitement of the episode led to a series of dynamic interactions between players. In this case, the highlight of those tensions proved to be specifically with Jelinsky’s tribe, Yanu, composed of Jelinsky, Jess Chong, Bhanu Gopal, Q Burdette, Kenzie Petty and Tiffany Nicole Ervin.

After losing the first reward challenge and coming in last of three tribes, Yanu was forced to do a “Sweat” challenge of hauling sea water using buckets that had holes in them during a set time duration in order to earn flint. After an evident struggle, Jelinsky decided to quit with more than half their time left.

On day two of the game, each tribe was instructed to send over one player to go on an unknown journey. The three players each had to draw a card and try to convince the torch cardholder they held the vote card. 

After drawing the skull and failing to convince the others, Jelinsky was forced to forfeit his vote for the next tribal council. Losing the next challenge again, Yanu was sent to tribal council to vote off one of their own.

While Yanu had originally planned to vote off Jess, Jelinsky butting heads with Burdette ultimately sent him home with the accomplishment of getting voted out first unanimously without ever getting to cast a single vote.

“Man, there was so much about the premiere episode. CBS actually had to change the format of the episode just because there was so much Jelinsky going on. Normally they are an hour and a half, they changed it to two hours long just to fit all that I had going on in there,” said Jelinsky.

One of the comedic points in the episode advertised by “Survivor” was Jelinsky consistently claiming that the term several means seven, so much so that “Survivor” titled its seventh episode “Episode Several.”

“If I ever get the chance to play again, I’m going to make sure that I present myself in a way that I am a tool for everybody. Eventually we’re going to get to a point where there’s six or several people left and then that’s where the big moves are going to come out. If I’m there, I’m going to be the one making the moves,” said Jelinsky.

While he believes the odds of “Survivor” holding a season with contestants who solely were first-boots is incredibly low, he is hopeful that there may be a season in the future of influential voted-out pre-merge players that he would love to be a part of.

“Yanu was the most dysfunctional tribe of all time, and I say that knowing that just the season prior, there was another disastrous tribe that also went down to three people. The difference with Yanu was that everybody had their own agenda, and none of us clicked. Even the people that appeared close on TV out there. We all had a problem with each other,” said Jelinsky.

The person Jelinsky seemed to clash with most on episode one was Q Burdette. Being the two who volunteered to do the Sweat challenge, it appeared that Burdette was resentful towards Jelinsky for quitting the challenge.

“I could tell Q and I weren’t jiving just because he’s just one of those people where whatever he says goes. It’s either Q’s way or the highway. I would bite back on a lot of Q’s ideas. We all wanted to vote Jess out, but Q was just so gung-ho after me. Q is just such a large personality, it’s really hard to go back and forth with him. It’s like talking to a brick wall,” said Jelinsky.

Jelinsky claimed that it was apparent voting him out was the wrong decision. Following that first tribal council, Yanu continued a losing streak of losing three straight consecutive challenges. The first three people voted out of Season 46 were all from Yanu.

“I would do a lot differently. I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure I’m back on that island. I’m not going to give up. It’s in the stars for me to win this game. I am certain I will be called back because Jelinsky’s a legend, and there’s no other first boot that did it like me,” Jelinsky said.

Now that the season is out, Jelinsky has been focusing on traveling, networking, working full time and still going to school. Jelinsky also released his own merchandise collection that people can find on instagram at @davidcjelinsky or on davidjelinsky.com.

Feeling good about his experience, Jelinsky urged UNLV students to apply to “Survivor” because of how incredible it is, and he would love to see more representation of people from Las Vegas.

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