“Survivor” is the granddaddy of American reality television. It was the first one to really capture huge ratings, and helped create the revolution in television in which there are now whole channels of reality shows. In Oakton, John Cochran was watching from the start, as a 13-year-old in 2000, and he calls himself a show superfan.
Now, he is a part of Survivor history. Cochran, 26, won the 26th season of the show (there are two per year) in a live ceremony announcing the winner in Los Angeles last week. The episodes were filmed last year on Caramoan in the Philippines, where Cochran had to eat nasty things and do all the other physical and mental torture tests required of the contestants. He collects $1 million for his troubles. Cochran also competed in season 24 in 2011 but did not win.
Meanwhile, the Oakton High School graduate has just finished up his law degree at Harvard. But he tells Dave Seminara in the Fairfax County Times that he’s not sure if he wants to be a lawyer. And that after the bright lights of Hollywood, his return to Oakton is “depressing. I’m a heartthrob on a TV show, but I’m still living at my parents’ house in my childhood bedroom, refreshing message boards and Twitter, and not doing much else.”
Last year, after being voted off in season 24, he told Seminara in The Post that he had received death threats for his actions on Survivor, and was taking time off from Harvard Law to bask in the “fleeting notoriety of being a reality TV star.” He said he tended to get recognized more around Northern Virginia than at Harvard, though he later went back to Harvard and earned his law degree. Now, after a second season of life in the reality TV spotlight, Cochran said, “When I go to Tysons, the people who approach me are over the age of 60 or under the age of 12,” he said. “It’s the very old and the very, very young.”