When the 43rd season of CBS’s hit reality show premieres on Wednesday night, Idahoans will already have a favorite castaway to cheer for! 

In May 2022, 18 new castaways headed to the Mamanuca Islands for 26 days to film Season 43 of Survivor. Mike Gabler, an aneurysm and trans-catheter heart valve specialist from Meridian, was among them! At 52 years old, Gabler is the oldest competitor on the new season. 

In his 2020 audition tape, Gabler shared that he’s been a Survivor fan from the very beginning and has been watching the show for over 20 years. That means he’s seen the likes of older contestants like Rudy Boesch, Bob Crowley and Kim Johnson do very, very well on the show. At the age of 72, Boesch finished third during the very first season of the show. Crowley holds the record for the oldest “Sole Survivor” winning the show at age 56. Gabler hopes that being a Gen Xer will allow him to bring an interesting perspective and maybe some wisdom to the show. 

Survivor night has always been a big deal in the Gabler house. He told Parade that he and his wife started watching it before they had kids and now enjoy watching the show with their teenage daughters. He’s enjoyed watching classic Survivor gameplay and gotcha moments from the couch but knew it was time to get off the sofa and try to win the game. 

Robert Voets/CBS

In his official cast interview, he said “You know to outplay, outwit, outlast, you’re gonna have to be a little ruthless.” He says he has a heart of gold and thinks he could be that good friend that will take out his competitors one by one with a smile. Gabler thinks that being under pressure in the operating room has more than prepared him for the show. When the show starts, he’ll be one of the six players on the yellow “Baka” tribe. 

Should Gabler become the “Sole Survivor,” he would not only win $1 million, but he would also become the second Treasure Valley resident to win the show. Boise’s Ben Driebergen won the “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers” season in 2017. 

Survivor airs at 7 p.m. on CBS2. 

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