Survivor fans never get tired of hearing Jeff Probst yell “drop your buffs” each season and are obsessed with his enthusiasm on the show. The Kansas native has been the longtime host of the franchise since 2000. When the cut-throat competition show is in its off-season, Jeff spends time with his gorgeous wife, Lisa Ann Russell, and his two stepchildren.
Jeff and Lisa were married in 2011 in an intimate L.A. ceremony. He was 50 and she was 40 at the time. This is the second marriage for both the Survivor star and the former model-turned-actress. Jeff was previously married to psychotherapist Shelley Wright from 1996 to 2001. Lisa was married to Saved by the Bell actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar from 1996 to 2010.
“I married the right person,” Jeff told Larry King in a 2012 interview. “I’ve always thought I’d have this family, and this great family unit because that’s what I came from.”
Jeff and Lisa met at a Christmas party thrown by Survivor creator Mark Burnett. Lisa was there with her two friends that night along with a slew of other celebrity guests like Barbra Streisand and Paris Hilton. The television personality gushed to King that marriage is “awesome.”
When it came time for Jeff to meet Lisa and Mark-Paul’s two children, Michael and Ava, they welcomed him with open arms.
“As weird as it sounds to say, I was dropped into their lives and now I feel like a dad,” Jeff told HuffPost in 2013. “It doesn’t feel weird when they call me dad and it doesn’t take away from the fact that they have another dad — their biological dad — but it doesn’t lessen the impact I feel as a dad.”
The popular host has always happily shared sweet sentiments about his “blended famliy.” Jeff and Lisa, and Mark-Paul and his wife Catriona McGinn, all get along well and coparent their kids.
“They call me dad. And you know when it locked in? When we were together before we got married, they were playing with it,” Jeff shared with King. “Sometimes it would be dad, sometimes it would be Jeff Dad 2, sometimes it would be D2.”
Lisa also comes from an entertainment background, kicking off her career as a model for Revlon. She’s appeared in a few movies over the years including Kounterfeit and Sinbad: The Battle of the Dark Knights. Naturally, Survivor fans have always wondered if Lisa would ever join the show.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water aired in 2013, pitting family members against each other for the chance at a whopping $1 million prize. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jeff shared whether he would vote his wife off the show if they competed together.
“It depends on the situation,” he said, “but absolutely.”
Despite admitting that he would vote his wife off Survivor if he had the chance, the pair are happily in love. Jeff brought Lisa on to cohost his short-lived talk show, The Jeff Probst Show, in 2013. Their playful interactions left the audience falling in love with their relationship even more.
Though Jeff does not post much about his personal life on social media, it’s clear that his marriage to Lisa means the world to him. He revealed during a February 2018 interview with GQ that despite what viewers may assume about his filming schedule, he does actually spend a lot of time at home with his wife and stepkids.
“The biggest misconception is that I’m gone all the time,” the Kansas native said. “And that’s because Survivor is on almost all year round but we shoot the show in very concentrated periods. Each season shoots for 39 days. If you’re there a week early, it’s like seven to eight weeks for each shoot. So over the summer, I’m gone almost four months. But that’s it. Then I’m home.”