Jeff Varner

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Jeff Varner
Born (1966-04-16) April 16, 1966 (age 49)
Television Survivor: The Australian Outback
Survivor: Cambodia

Jeff Varner (born April 16, 1966)[1] is a news anchor and reporter, a former entertainment reporter, and a former contestant on the CBS reality television series, Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Cambodia.

Early life and education[edit]

Jeff was raised on a tobacco farm in Greensboro, North Carolina in southern Guilford county. He grew up about a mile from the Polecat Creek home place of his idol Edward R. Murrow. An extensive genealogical search discovered Jeff and Murrow are related by marriage on Murrow's mother's side of the tree. He played right defense for a hockey team in the local youth hockey league. He earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 15. He attended Southern Guilford High School, where he was active in student government and theatre arts and editor of the school's yearbook. He later went on to earn a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[2]


The Australian Outback[edit]

Jeff was a contestant on Survivor: The Australian Outback, 2001.[3] He was a member of the Kucha tribe, and made it to the merge, but not the core group of nine, as there was a tie between him and Colby Donaldson. At the time, in the event of a tie, previous tribal council votes would be used. Jeff had two but knew only of one, Colby had zero. It was revealed on the Survivor Australia Outback DVD, in the special commentary section, that it was Kimmi Kappenberg that inadvertently gave away the vote he had against him during the Episode 2 Reward Challenge. This is also mentioned by Jeff in the episode he was voted off, early in the episode while the Kucha tribe is talking in their shelter at night.

During the show, Jeff's luxury item was a coloring book and a set of crayons. The Survivors colored in the books and signed their autograph in it, and after the show, he sold the pictures on eBay to raise money for charities.[4]


On May 6, 2015, Varner was revealed to be one of the 16 men who was eligible to be voted by the viewers to return for the 31st seasons, Survivor: Cambodia. Also from The Australian Outback, on the women's side, was Kimmi Kappenberg. On May 20, the results revealed that both Varner and Kappenberg were voted to return.[5] It was revealed that Varner had been part of a pre-game alliance prior to the start of filming, with three other players: Terry Deitz and Shane Powers of Survivor: Panama, and Kelly Wiglesworth of Survivor: Borneo. Although Powers did not make it into the season, Deitz and Wiglesworth did, and the two of them ended up with Varner on the same Ta Keo tribe.[6] Early in the game, Varner was seen as a crucial player in the season: He and Peih-Gee Law from Survivor: China were the swing votes who ultimately decided the elimination of Vytas Baskauskas on Day 3, and Varner himself organized the elimination of Shirin Oskooi on Day 6. However, after a tribal swap and expansion turned the two tribes into three, Varner and Law ended up on the brand new Angkor tribe, along with fellow former Ta Keo members Yung "Woo" Hwang and Abi-Maria Gomes, and two new members from the former Bayon tribe, Latasha "Tasha" Fox and Andrew Savage. Although Varner initially planned to simply stay with his former Ta Keo allies, Fox suddenly realized this was his plan after they lost the immunity challenge and called Varner "a rat" in front of the other tribes. As a result, Varner inexplicably began to panic and decided to turn on one of his own allies for no reason, ultimately voting with the majority to send Law home on Day 9.[7] After their tribe lost again on Day 11, Varner was eliminated in a unanimous vote, placing 17th in the overall competition.

Journalism career[edit]

Jeff was, until September 2014, main anchor at WNCT-TV, the CBS affiliate in Greenville, North Carolina. Prior he worked as a general assignment reporter for WPIX-11, the CW's flagship station in New York City. He has worked as an entertainment reporter for KCBS in Los Angeles, CA then E! News Live, and then as a field correspondent and host for the TV Guide Channel. He was a weekend anchor and reporter at FOX 8 WGHP in High Point, North Carolina. In his first year in broadcast news, he won an Associated Press Broadcast News Award: "Rookie of the Year," and "Best Health Report" in 2005.[citation needed] Jeff has been a fill-in host for "Live with Regis and Kelly" and also worked for many years as morning anchor at WWMT Channel 3 in Kalamazoo, MI before being promoted to main anchor. He held that chair until he left the station in April 2011.

Jeff began his career in communications as a public relations assistant and corporate communications manager for Citicorp in New York City. He was part of the first team in the corporate world to utilize the internet to communicate project information in Citicorp's "Product Design and Development Division."

He used that background to transition into web development, working in developing online properties for Citibank, MCI, Harlequin Romance, and Martha Stewart Living Online.[8]


  1. ^ "Survivor Cast: Jeff". CBS. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Jeff Varner". MyFox WGHP. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  3. ^ " Jeff Varner". Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  4. ^ "Jeff Varner of 'Survivor Australia' auctioning coloring book pages for children's charity". Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  5. ^ Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance cast (and logo) revealed Entertainment Weekly, Retrieved May 21, 2015
  6. ^ "Survivor Second Chance: Episode 1 - Ghost Town". Inside Survivor. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Survivor Season 31 Episode 3 -". CBS. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Survivor". Retrieved 2007-04-13. 

External links[edit]