Julie Berry may have just missed making the final four on Survivor: Vanuatu, but she did wind up with a nice consolation prize: As previously reported, Berry, 24, a youth mentor from Gorham, Maine, began dating Survivor host Jeff Probst shortly after filming wrapped last summer. With the Vanuatu season finished, Probst has gone public with the relationship and calls her "the love of my life."
Berry flirted with Probst during the game, "but," he says, "she was playing around and I was harder on her than on [the other contestants] because I thought she was not delivering as much as I wanted. We were definitely not having our own little party out there."
But a month after they returned from the island, Probst called Berry. "I had a lingering curiosity about her," he admits. "I have made a few friends on the Survivor shows, like Colby and Savage. And I check in on people sometimes to see how things are going."
Obviously, "checking in" led to more than friendship. The twosome really bonded on a West Coast road trip they took together. "That is when we really got to know each other and I started to fall in love," he shares. "The person on Survivor is not the real me. I play a distinct role — a real hard-ass. And it was not the real Julie either; she was playing to win a million dollars. When I got to know her, I was blown away by the real wisdom of this woman." Berry has since moved from Maine to Los Angeles, where she is studying for a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.
"I had been waiting for this for a long time," says the 43-year-old divorcé. "I never would have dreamed I would find a love affair on a show I hosted. I would have lost my house and all the money in my bank account betting against it."According to Probst, the other Survivor contestants are cool with their romance. "They are completely supportive," he says. The one person with whom he has not discussed it is his boss, executive producer Mark Burnett. "Mark is so in love with Roma Downey that he is a convert, a believer in love," says Probst. "I'm sure he will say 'I am really happy for you.'"