I used to be the biggest Survivor fan in middle school and high school. Way back when it aired on Thursday evenings, I couldn't wait to get to school Friday morning and discuss an episode with one of my closest friends, who was a fan as well. People are quick to forget how controversial Survivor was back in the day, with its castmembers walking around in scantily clad clothing and eating bugs on primetime TV.

It remains one of the all-time great works of reality TV. Although I haven't watched a full season in 10+ years, I still have fond memories of Boston Rob, Russell Hantz, and more castaways.

However, there might be added incentive to watch the upcoming season.

Survivor 43 — today I learned they stopped using locations in their titles when they hit season 40 — features a castmember, who is a native to Eastern Iowa! His name is Cody Assenmacher, and he grew up in Preston, IA, about 45 minutes southeast of the Tri-States.

The 35-year-old Assenbacher currently resides in Honolulu, HI, and his occupation is listed as "elevator sales" (there must be levels to that job!) He describes himself as "optimistic, charismatic, and fearless," and the "little known fact" he lists about himself sounds so quintessentially Iowa, it's perfect:

[Several] of my bottom front teeth are fake. When I was a kid, my older brother strapped me into a sled behind an ATV in a frozen cornfield, and the sled flipped over.

Per usual, "Survivor 43" will be hosted by series mainstay Jeff Probst. Photo Credit: Rich Polk, Getty Images
Per usual, "Survivor 43" will be hosted by series mainstay Jeff Probst. Photo Credit: Rich Polk, Getty Images

Assenmacher is gunning to be the third Survivor winner from Iowa. If so, he'll join the likes of Denise Stapley, who won the title of "Sole Survivor" in the show's 25th season, Survivor: Philippines. She later came in 6th place during her second appearance on Survivor: Winners at War. Stapley, who works as a sex therapist, is from Cedar Rapids.

He'd also sit alongside Sarah Lacina of Muscatine. Lacina was the 7th castaway eliminated during Survivor: Cagayan in 2014. Lacina would return three years later for Survivor: Game Changers and be crowned "Sole Survivor." Impressively, she came back for a third time in 2020 for Winners at War, where she was alongside Stapley. Lacina would place 4th during her third and most recent stint.

Assenmacher seems to have a good head on his shoulders and a likable personality, which should give him a leg up at least before the three tribes merge midseason. When asked by EW why he thinks he has what it takes to be "Sole Survivor," he said:

I know that SURVIVOR and I were meant for each other. Just took us 20 years to realize it! My charismatic, fun-loving personality will enable me to build alliances. My competitive edge will keep numbers through winning challenges. Experience being outdoors will help in building shelter and sourcing food. My experiences, profession, and living in different cities have given me wisdom ahead of my time, and I will use that to my advantage in communicating with players older than me, while my active lifestyle and youthful spirit will enable me to relate to younger players.

Survivor 43 premieres on CBS on September 22nd. The show will also be available to stream on Paramount+.

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