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Newest Coach Brings eSports to Survivor Auditions

Katherine Stohlman, C'19

Michael Hansen

For Michael Hansen, Mount St. Mary’s newest eSports coach, his job goes hand in hand with reality television. The popular TV show “Survivor,” to be exact. A longtime fan of the show, Hansen never dreamed that he’d have the chance to become a competitor—or that eSports would have anything to do with it.

The 24-year-old Massachusetts native earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and his master’s in business from Nichols College. He made his way to the Mount in May 2022, after seeing a position as eSports coach on LinkedIn (he also plans to start teaching courses in the eSports minor program next spring). Hansen has been competing in eSports since he was about 15 years old. What started as a hobby that was secondary to his participation in traditional sports such as basketball and football, became a passion after one too many concussions made him re-evaluate his priorities. Ahead of his senior year of high school, he left athletics and focused more on eSports, joining his college team when it was revamped during his third year.

He relishes competition and new opportunities. This is what drove him to apply for a position on the cast of “Survivor.” “I didn’t realize how easy the audition process was. I started by just submitting a three-and-a-half-minute video of myself in [his eSports office], introducing myself and stating why I should be selected.”

A second short video submission led to a phone interview with the panel that chooses “Survivor” cast members. Hansen caught their attention by explaining the connection he believes makes him the best choice: eSports. “I sold myself to them in about 30 seconds,” by observing that cable television is lagging compared to streaming services, and eSports sponsorships and collaborations would provide an opportunity for “Survivor” to tap into a booming young industry, he related.

And he seems to be onto something. With audience members in the hundreds of millions and primarily young adults, an alliance with various eSports organizations might very well help “Survivor” continue as a popular reality TV show.

Beyond helping to benefit the show, Hansen’s primary motivation for auditioning as a contestant is to “look for the next challenge…the next cool life experience I can have.” He’s already traveled extensively, and spending a month in Fiji, participating in a strategic, survivalist competition, with the chance to win $1 million, doesn’t sound bad at all. Hansen shared that the next step in his audition process is waiting to see if the show’s producers call him in January, to fly him to Los Angeles for a final, in-person interview. “I’m completely prepared for [not hearing back],” he said. “Some people try for 7-10 years before getting it, I’m not scared of that.”

Nevertheless, he’s made it quite far and is optimistic about his next steps. He advises anyone looking to try out, themselves to “be able to show who you are.” He recommended researching old videos and brainstorming what “edge” you bring as a potential competitor, but ultimately said it’s best to be yourself. Just filming a few minutes of your ordinary day, relaxing with friends or at your home or work, offering genuine information about who you are, is more than enough.

And offering connections to a worldwide billion-dollar industry never hurts.

Katherine Stohlman, C'19