Jeff Varner is seeing real world repercussions to outing fellow castaway Zeke Smith on “Survivor”.
The three-time “Survivor” player — and North Carolina real estate agent — has been fired from his job, Varner confirms to ET.
Varner, who is a former news anchor for CBS and Fox affiliates, was let go on Thursday from his job at Allen Tate Real Estate, and tells ET that he was fired in “what I felt was an ugly, knee-jerk reaction kind of way.”
“I wasn’t even given the chance to explain or right the wrong,” he explained. “In the real estate world, buyers and sellers want to know they’re signing up with a company that won’t dump them or turn their backs on them in time of trial. So I’m talking to several firms now that I know will care about and believe in their employees. I have had several reach out [and] I’m confident I’ll find a better home.”
“As I’m spending hours doing press [on Thursday], I discover I can’t access my email. Then the MLS association emails to say, ‘You’ve been terminated.’ I didn’t even find out from my company. Suddenly my real estate license was inactive and my current clients [were] left in the dark. It took hours after my press junket to get anyone with the company on the phone to tell me personally, and even longer to calm my clients, all of whom, by the way, are coming with me to my new firm,” Varner continued. “It was an ugly day. My former boss told me that I was in a news story they wanted nothing to with.”
“I was devastated,” he added. “[I warned the company that headlines might be coming], but apparently not the people who needed to hear it.”
ET has reached out to CBS reps and Allen Tate Real Estate for comment.
A media storm erupted on Wednesday night after viewers saw Varner out Smith as being transgender during Survivor‘s tribal council. “There is deception here. Deceptions on levels, Jeff, that these guys don’t even understand,” Varner said during the episode. “Why haven’t you told anyone that you’re transgender?”
In an interview with ET on Thursday, Varner revealed that he hadn’t intended on outing Smith, and that he had been undergoing therapy over the last 10 months to deal with the “traumatic” situation.
“[I] have been in therapy, CBS has paid for [me]. They wanted [me] healthy,” he said. “This was traumatic for the both of us and it was ugly. When I came out of that game, I believe I even said, ‘Somebody shoot me.’ I probably sent all the red flags up that I was going to kill myself over this, which of course I would never do that as much as I felt like I probably deserved it. There was a psychologist outside at the path that I walked down and I fell into her arms it was just great for me.”
“I was prepared for last night, and I’ve worked through where I was going to be psychologically and emotionally before I even sat down to watch it. I knew that it would be emotional. I cried a lot. I sat numb a lot. There was relief that this is finally out there,” he added.
See more in the video below.
Reporting by Brendon Geoffrion.
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