In the year 2000 50-million viewers
watched sixteen ordinary Americans fight it out for 1,000,000 dollars on a stranded island. Those are viewership numbers more comparable to Super Bowls and the Oscars than reality television. The cultural force of Survivor
made the unknown players household names. We at the Baby Name Institute wanted to know if that recognition translated to babies being named after any players. The answer is yes, parents did name their children after (or at least subconsciously because of) the smelly scheming players they saw stranded on an island. Here are the top five names impacted by Survivor.
The winner of Survivor: Africa
was a universally beloved soccer-playing brainiac named Ethan Zohn. At a time when thirty-million viewers was still possible, the name Ethan soared to an all-time high the year after the third season. Seven-thousand more babies named Ethan were born in 2002 than 2000. We have Ethan at #5 on this list because the name had been growing in popularity even before Ethan's name was printed on the chyron in his confessional. However, it is known that at least one baby was named directly because of Ethan Zohn. Season 35 player Dr. Mike revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter
that he and his wife named their son Ethan after the third Survivor
Parvati is a rare Survivor player and a rare name. The Social Security Administration only reports names if there are at least five babies in a year with that name. Up until 2007 that had never happened. However, in 2008 when Parvati won Survivor: Micronesia the name broke through. While the total numbers may not be as large as the popularity of Ethan, it is safe to say that Parvati successfully took a name from complete obscurity to relative obscurity.
Number three on our list is Elisabeth who became America's sweetheart after the second season of Survivor
. Elisabeth helped her spelling of the name achieve its best year ever. Since then Elisabeth with an S has dropped in popularity, either due to an appreciation for classical spelling or because of her appearances on The View
. Elisabeth still has a long way to go to
catch Elizabeth but it was a valiant effort by Elisabeth Filarski.
Before continuing with the rest of the list, let's take a moment to look at a few honorable mentions. For instance, Silas
from Survivor: Africa
came very close to making the list.
It is unclear how much Silas from Survivor
impacted the history of the name. It surely broadened the recognizably and expedited the name's growth. However, before you say Silas got screwed by being left off this list, the name had been growing exponentially even before Silas got on the show. There are some other names with similar stories. The name Lillian
had a 17% bump after Survivor: Pearl Islands
. Meanwhile, Jenna
fell 42% in five years after Survivor: The Amazon
and the name Clay
was down 57% in the five years after Survivor: Thailand
Although small in total number of babies, second place on our list is a well-deserved victory by Lex van den Berghe. It doesn't hurt to have a unique yet pronounceable name on the most popular television show of the year. After his Survivor season the name Lex doubled and has not returned to pre-Lex van den Berghe levels since.
Number one on our list goes to the man who never won one-million dollars in three attempts. Congrats Colby! Although the name Colby had been gaining some popularity in the years prior, after the second season of Survivor the name exploded. The name went from 1,464 babies to 3,859 babies in one year. Unlike Parvati, for which there are barely enough people named to even field one tribe, there are legions of Colby's walking around because of Colby Donaldson.
If you are curious about the name of any player left off the list, feel free to search their name data at the Baby Name Institute using the search bar at the top of the page. If you liked this article, please enter your e-mail list at the bottom of this page and follow us on Twitter
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Published May 13, 2018