Mike Gabler

On Winning "Survivor" & Donating $1M Prize To Charity

While there have been veterans who have competed in the reality show: Survivor: Season 43, never has there been a non-veteran winner who gave away the entirety of the $1,000,000 prize to veteran organizations. Until now. In this week’s Team Never Quit Podcast, meet Mike Gabler who did just that. What an engaging conversation Mike and Marcus have, as Mike shares some of the behind the scenes stories related to the program. Mike, a Texas native, comes from a family of veterans, but he serves his country in a significantly different way. He is a heart valve specialist, working with top surgeons and cardiologists – a multicultural group of people with a common focus – to take care of the patient.

At age 43, Mike was the oldest contestant of the season, and the second oldest competitor in the history of Survivor. The lack of food and nourishment was really getting to him, yet he excelled in individual competition. He explained that he gained strength by thinking about the military members who are currently fighting, as well as those who’ve passed, and who’ve sacrificed so much for our nation.

“I’m gonna donate the entire prize – the entire million dollars – in my father’s name, Robert Gabler, who’s a Green Beret, to Veterans in need who are struggling from psychiatric problems, PTSD, and to curb the suicide epidemic.” “Lot of heroes served in our military. We do this for fun; they do this for real.”

Thumbnail Image:
– CBS via Getty Images

In this episode you will hear:
• Everybody on Survivor likes Type 2 fun, because that’s what it was. (6:33)
• We all became really close. We’re friends to this day. (6:38)
• I went into the game at 200 pounds, and came out at 176. (8:41)
• One day Ryan came back with a 2 foot clam. There were 2 pieces as big as 12oz filet mignons, and tasted just like scallops. (10:29)
• [At first] it’s a punch in the face, but after about a week you start assimilating. (19:43)
• [Growing up] whatever your dad yells at the TV or cheers for is what you cheer for, so we became Steelers fans. (24:23)
• In Arab culture, when you like something, they’re inclined to give it to you. (26:40)
• It was really an amazing experience as a child to traverse the world. (30:40)
• I stood on the great wall [of China] when I was in middle school. (30:50)
• When you travel around the world, you realize what a small place it is, and how similar people are at their core. (32:01)
• Crocodiles can strike half the length of their body. (41:23)
• The harder you work, the luckier you get. (49:56)
• In 2011, this brand new technology called TAVR (Trans Aortic Valve Replacement) came out. (51:01)
• I would look to the next bend in the road and I’d tell myself to get there. (54:12)
• I was on an endurance challenge where I had to hold on tight. The record for it in 22 seasons was 25 minutes. My spirit exploded, and we broke the all-time record for that at over 45 minutes. (56:15)
• Man can survive (and woman) if you can find meaning in your suffering. (58:41)
• “Doing something bigger than yourself” drove me to persevere. (65:32)
• When you go deep into yourself, big things can happen. (81:33)

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