Fresno's two connections to "Survivor: One World," have one thing in common: They're both fierce competitors.
"I show no mercy when I play board games with my kids. I'll tell them to 'suck it up'," says Nina Acosta, a 51-year-old retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who now lives in Clovis
That kind of attitude is shared by Bullard High School graduate Matthew Quinlan, a 33-year-old San Francisco attorney.
"I have a Type A personality and I'm hyper competitive," Quinlan says.
Both talk about being among the 18 players selected for the 24th edition of the CBS reality competition series. They will be on opposite teams when the battle begins, with players divided into men's and women's tribes. The Manono and Salani tribes share the same beach.
Acosta, a Hollywood native who moved to Fresno in 1997, remembers watching the original "Survivor" and thinking the experience looked like fun. She put off trying out because her children -- Matthew, Jacob, Rachel, and Cari -- were too young.
Acosta did the show for the adventure. She thinks it might have been easier to compete when she was younger, but she was in good physical shape because she exercises and is a runner.
The physical demands weren't her biggest concern: It was being outdoors.
"I'm as pasty as they come. It's not like I work outside. I am very pale," Acosta says.
Acosta is the secretary to the chancellor of the State Center Community College District.
She can't talk about specifics of the show until it airs, and she says that trying to explain her whereabouts for about six weeks was interesting.
Her husband told people she was in Europe. And there were rumors that she was sick, with several people sending get well cards. To keep people guessing after she returned home, Acosta grew her hair long and colored it darker to make people think she was wearing a wig after having chemotherapy.
Her husband's law enforcement friends didn't completely buy either excuse. "I think some of them thought Joel had killed me and buried me somewhere," Acosta says.
Quinlan, who lived in Fresno from 1992-1996 while his father was made vice president of marketing at Zacky Farms, wanted to try out for "Survivor" for years because he thought his athleticism, social savvy and ability to read people would make him a good player.
He also understands what it means to be part of a team because he was captain of the Bullard volleyball team. The team element of "Survivor" is evident in the beginning when players have to compete with what Quinlan describes as "a certain rah-rah, us-against-them attitude."
He says being able to play the game for yourself is equally important. Quinlan's strategy was to play hard, be as true to himself as possible and count on his attorney skills to help him play the game.
"My hope was that my leadership skills would help me stay in the game. A lawyer must be able to be persuasive and have an ability to read people. 'Survivor' is a game of misleading and deceit. My hope was that I would be able to see through the manipulation and see what was really going on," Quinlan says.
The toughest part for the personal injury lawyer was explaining why he was going to be out of contact with family and friends. Quinlan told everyone he was doing volunteer work in remote areas of a Third World country.
Both players agree trying out for "Survivor" was a great idea.
"There was never a moment when I doubted my decision to be on 'Survivor,' " Quinlan says. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Update: In a follow-up conversation with Acosta on Tuesday, she clarified a point: When she returned to work with longer and darker hair — that looked like a wig — some people assumed she had been away because of cancer treatment. Acosta says she corrected anyone who asked if that had been the reason for her long absence. She does not take the disease lightly and has family members who have battled cancer.
Show info"Survivor: One World":
8 p.m. Wednesday on KGPE Channel (47.1)