Watch the special expanded series finale online now.
Hometown: Boston, MA; resides in Boston, MA
Darwin Zook is an all-American stud and former basketball player at University of California at Santa Cruz who knows how to strategize - and he plans to stop at nothing in order to crush the competition and find love in the wild. In addition to coaching basketball at his alma mater, Zook also played semi-pro football as a wide receiver in the Boston area while obtaining his master's degree from Boston University.
All he needs on a first date is a fun, relaxed atmosphere, music and free-flowing drinks. Zook is looking for the right woman and he will not settle.
He currently works as a location assistant manager for a production company.
Whom did you feel most connected to during the competition?
I thought my partner, Ali, was a beautiful girl but given the circumstances of our adventure, things never materialized. I was disappointed I didn't get to spend basically ANY time with the new girls that came in after me and the other guys were eliminated. In a brief interaction with a couple of these new girls, as part of a full group photo, I was much more physically attracted to them than the girls in the first group. I also never got to speak with Summer as she was in the Oasis when I was there, but she had the type of fit, tall and athletic look I was most attracted to.
Ultimately, are you happy the additional contestants were brought in to mix it up?
I think it was great to bring people in at different points, but in order to get a real feel of how people might match up and the type of interactions and competitions that could occur, there needed to be an even ratio of girls and guys of some kind more early on. I felt that I never even had a chance to say hello and meet more than half the girls that appeared on the show.
What behavior surprised you the most from the other contestants?
I wasn't surprised but I did find it pretty funny how people would all try and get their punch line jokes and stories in quickly before the next person could talk. Because there were twice as many guys as girls early on, the guys literally would be talking over each other to get in their witty remarks. I kind of sat back and enjoyed the comedy show. That being said, I really enjoyed spending time with everyone I got to meet!
What was your favorite challenge and why?
Unfortunately, I only got to participate in the one challenge that was very swimming oriented! But my favorite part of the challenge was the coconut toss and just the overall feel of competing and tromping through the jungle.
Was there anything off-screen that you feel the audience missed out on?
Probably some of my great football catches and volleyball spikes!!! Honestly though, I think that even though there are cameras everywhere, some important conversations are still sometimes missed.
Any fun anecdotes or run-ins with nature you'd like to share?
Watching my swimming stroke should be enough comedy for anyone, especially while lugging that heavy sack through the ocean. Also, the giant mosquito attack that occurred on my back was certainly a funny if not ugly looking spectacle for a few hours!
What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
I think this whole experience re-affirmed to myself who I am. I won't sacrifice my values or belief system by being deceptive in order to make myself look better at someone else's expense. I've always known myself to be ultra-competitive, but I was happy to learn that I have limits in what I will do to win. Winning is as important as anything but it isn't worth being sneaky, deceptive and sacrificing who you are. No matter what, I competed until the end, stayed tough and kept a smile on my face. I had an amazing time and feel very lucky to have been chosen for the show and to have had this amazing experience.
Why did you decide to take part in this show?
I think in life you have to be willing to take chances and make memories. Taking part in this show was without a doubt an amazing and unique experience I will never forget. I am someone who is always looking to grow in different ways and try new things. This was a tremendous opportunity to go to an amazing place in the world (Dominican Republic), compete athletically and try to find that special girl!
Would you call yourself an outdoorsy person? Why or why not?
I am an extremely outdoorsy person... In a world that's becoming increasingly technological, I think it's more important than ever to look up, enjoy your surroundings and remember the outside nature world around us is the one consistent thing we can always rely on and enjoy. Despite being a very below average swimmer, the beach is my favorite place to be!
What are you afraid of?
I am most afraid of leaving things in life on the table. I don't want to look back and say I wish I had experienced this, travelled here or tried that. We are all always going to regret certain actions we take or don't take, but I don't want to look back in fifty years and say I was afraid to try.
What surprised you most about being in the jungle?
The mosquitoes. I definitely didn't realize I would need multiple cortisone shots for crazy reactions!
What was the hardest thing for you to live without? What did you miss the most?
I'm an only child and very much enjoy my space and alone moments. The biggest thing I missed was definitely that space and the chance to be truly by myself. Of course, I knew that cameras would be there all the time, but actually experiencing it was a whole other thing.
What would other people say are your best qualities?
I think people would say I'm a loyal person and a leader when the going gets tough. I have a few very close friends and those people know that I would always be there for them no matter what. The people that know me well would say I love being a goofball and am always ready to laugh with a dose of cynicism. Many would say at times I have an extreme, tough and intense side especially when competing in sports but that in general, my every day laid back attitude balances this out! I hope my friends would say I challenge them to sometimes look at life differently than the traditional view of how one is "supposed" to live.
Describe the worst date you've ever been on.
The worst date I've ever been on was me trying a bit too hard to impress the girl I was with. I was immediately very attracted to her and normally I would just let things flow and have fun, but I think I tried to anticipate everything too much and ended up acting a fool. Live and learn!
What qualities do you find to be most important in your partner?
She has to be confident in who she is but willing to laugh at herself too. I like a girl who is a positive, encouraging person that wants to experience new things and travel to fun, exciting places. It is great if she has a bit of an edge that makes her unique in some way. Of course, I can't lie, she has to be hot... and have a great smile.
Describe your ideal date.
An ideal date would be going to some beach bar, hanging on the deck, enjoying the warm sun, a couple margaritas, a few laughs... and let the good times roll!