2 'Survivor' contestants have
ties to Va. Tech
Roanoke Times - 8.25.06
By Marques G. Harper
Two "Survivor" contestants with ties to Virginia Tech will
compete for immunity and the $1 million grand prize when the popular
CBS reality series returns in September.
Christiansburg resident Anh-Tuan "Cao
Boi" (pronounced cowboy) Bui, who attended Tech, and Adam
Gentry, a Tech graduate who lives in California, are part of the
latest round of castaways.
Their chance for a million dollars comes seasons
after Tom "Big Tom" Buchanan, of Rich Valley in Smyth
County, became a popular "Survivor" contestant appearing
on "Survivor: Africa" and "Survivor: All-Stars."
While many TV viewers are familiar with the
reality series, this season's episodes will center on a new plot
twist: the race card.
For "Survivor: Cook Islands," 20
contestants will be organized into four tribes divided along ethnic
lines -- black, white, Hispanic and Asian, and the tribes, as usual,
will merge later in the season. The 13th edition of
"Survivor" will debut at 8 p.m. Sept. 14 on WDBJ (Channel
Bui auditioned with other aspiring survivors on
Jan. 31 during a casting call sponsored by WDBJ at Kent Square in
Bui, 42, was born in Vietnam, where he was a war
refugee when he was 11 years old, according to a biography on CBS's
Web site and his application video. Later he moved to the U.S. and
dropped out of high school to join the military. He attended Tech,
and is married to Kristol Bond. The couple have two children, Jesse
Dakota and Nicholas Roundtree.
Bui, who considers the character Forrest Gump a
hero, has lived a varied life, having worked as a photographer, used
car salesman, fisherman and farm hand. He now works as a nail salon
manager at Regal Nails in Wal-Mart in Christiansburg.
"He is back," said Vanessa Anderson,
who has known Bui for about four years. Speaking on Bui's behalf,
she said, "He's not allowed to do any kind of interviews or
take any kinds of pictures."
Anderson is administrative assistant/assistant
manager at the Montgomery Moose Lodge No. 1470, where Bui serves on
the board of officers. "A lot of people know him," said
Anderson, adding the lodge is throwing a party for the season
premiere of "Survivor." "Here at the lodge he has
made a lot of friends. He's not shy; he's outgoing. He's a super
nice guy. He would do anything he could for you. He's a crazy, fun,
In "Survivor" footage that aired on
WDBJ, Bui, who fasts for weeks at a time, said, "The biggest
lesson I've learned in my life is perseverance and tolerance. And I
think that is one of the keys to world peace and getting along with
According to CBS, Bui enjoys bicycling, hiking,
sky diving, photography, meditation and playing classical music on
his guitar. He also is the world-record holder in marathon softball
where he played for 100 hours while serving in the 82nd Airborne
Division of the U.S. Army. In 2003, he hiked the Appalachian Trail,
and has biked cross-country.
Bui also is involved with the 82nd Airborne
Division Association and the Boy Scouts of America and Cub Scouts of
The other contestant with local ties, Gentry was
born in Virginia Beach and later moved to Fredericksburg, according
to his biography on CBS.com.
The 28-year-old lives in San Diego, where he
sells copiers and aspires to move into medical sales. While at Tech,
Gentry, who appeared on MTV's "The Grind," was active in
the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and majored in marketing. After
college, he lived in Richmond, where he was a personal trainer for
about six months.
As for this season's twist on
"Survivor," Jeff Probst, host of the show, said the
network was worried the racial divide might offend viewers.
"It's very risky because you're bringing up
a topic that is a hot button," Probst told The Associated
Press. "There's a history of segregation you can't ignore. It
is part of our history.
"For that, it's much safer to say, 'No,
let's just stick with things the way they are. Let's don't be the
network to rock the boat. Let's not have 'Survivor' try something
new," he said. "But the biases from home can't affect you.
This is an equal opportunity game."
Probst said he and the "Survivor"
producers wanted to bring more ethnic diversity to the competition.
"The truth is 80 percent of the people that
apply are white," he said. "And television, in general, is
white. So all these criticisms were valid."
On each episode of "Survivor: Cook
Islands," at least one cast member will be sent to a separate
island miles away from camp, where an immunity idol will be hidden.
If found, this immunity idol could save a contestant from being
voted off the show.