'Survivor': Jeff Probst on Confronting Gender Bias and Embracing a 'New Era' Post-'Winners at War' (Exclusive)

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Wednesday night's season finale of Survivor: Winners at War marked the end of an era for the series -- and the start of a new one, host Jeff Probst hopes. 

The CBS competition series went above and beyond for its landmark 40th season. It brought back a cast of winners from the last 20 years, upped the gameplay and doubled the prize to $2 million, the largest in reality show history. 

Old-school favorites like "Boston" Rob Marciano and Sandra Diaz-Twine declared the brutal season the start of their Survivor retirement, while new-school standouts like Natalie Anderson and new champion Tony Vlachos put themselves in a new league of Survivor players. So, what comes next? 

In an interview with ET via email, Probst opens up about pulling off the season's Zoom finale, that powerful moment he confronted gender biases and the "new era" that awaits post-coronavirus. 

ET: Tony told ET he was worried the finale might have been postponed until the summer given COVID-19. Was that ever a consideration? What went into deciding to have this finale over Zoom?   

Jeff Probst: No, we never considered postponing the finale night! The players and the fans have invested too much in this amazing season. We were never going to make them wait. It had been scheduled for last night for months and we were committed to pulling it off. We explored lots of options for how best to do the final vote read and we came to the conclusion that Zoom was our best choice. Once we knew we were going to use Zoom, then we decided to just have it be the final three and me so that it was very intimate. 

Survivor 40 Finale
CBS

I am so impressed with Natalie, Michele and Tony for how they handled it. They had no live audience to cheer for them and no other players to support them. Just the three of them in their homes and me in my garage!

Sarah Lacina brought up an important point about gender bias on this season finale -- and you admitted to having certain biases over the 20 years you've hosted the show. Why was that important for you to own up to?