Ethan Zohn is known for the work he's done on three different seasons of the CBS show Survivor. However, most fans may not know that he was a professional soccer player before he was winning money by surviving in an isolated location. PopCulture.com caught up with Zohn, and he talked about how he co-founded Grassroot Soccer which is an "adolescent health organization that leverages the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize at-risk youth in developing countries to overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and be agents for change in their communities." Zohn started the organization with Tommy Clark, and he got the idea while he was on Survivor: Africa.
"I was inspired to do something with philanthropy because I had a reward challenge in Survivor: Africa where I got to visit a hospital called Wamba Hospital in Kenya, and I got to play soccer with all these kids that I later found out that were HIV positive," Zohn said. "Here I am, 27 years old, middle of Africa, and I just had this real-life experience."
Zohn went on to say in 2004, 1,000 kids graduated from their program. Grassroot Soccer is now in 60 countries, and they have graduated 2.7 million kids. He said: "People think about Survivor as this incredible reality show, creating fans around the world. "I don't think they really realize is that they are saving lives as well because of the show."
Zohn was able to get Grassroot soccer started due to the connections he made while playing professionally in Zimbabwe. He was a goalkeeper for the Highlanders Football Club, and he also played for the Cape Cod Crusaders (Cape Cod, Massachusetts) and the Hawaii Tsunami (Oahu, Hawaii). Zohn never played in the MLS, but he recently hosted a TV show for the New England Revolution called State of the Revs.
"I'm a big MLS fan," Zohn said. "A lot of my friends are either in executive positions or coaching positions at a lot of the MLS clubs across the country." MLS has grown in a big way since it was founded in 1993. When the league began playing in 1996, there were 10 teams. Now, 26 teams make up Major League Soccer with four additional teams on the way.
"I am so over the moon with how successful MLS has been in the United States," Zohn stated. "I had high hopes. Back then it was so budget. (Now), we got youth programs, developmental programs, recruiting. I think it’s just beautiful."