Society

'Survivor's' Varner Loses Job After Outing Zeke Smith (Video)

| by Michael Doherty

"Survivor" contestant Jeff Varner was fired from his real estate job after he outed fellow player Zeke Smith as transgender on an episode of the reality show (video below).

During a Tribal Council on the show, Varner implied that Smith was being deceptive by not revealing the fact that he was transgender to the other contestants.

"Why haven't you told anyone you're transgender?" asked Varner on the show.

The other contestants spoke out against Varner's decision to reveal the information, telling him that it was a personal decision for Smith to decide, and Varner was voted off the show, according to CNN.

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Now, his actions on the reality show have had real-world consequences.

According to Varner, he was let go from his job as a real estate agent at Allen Tate Companies, after the company said Varner was "in the middle of a news story that we don't want anything to do with," reports the Greensboro News & Record.

"The Allen Tate Companies were built on core values of honesty, integrity and respect," said Pat Riley, the CEO of Allen Tate Real Estate, Entertainment Tonight reports. "Those fundamental beliefs led us to end our relationship with Mr. Varner, a real estate agent who had become affiliated with our firm just 17 days earlier."

Varner said he had warned his bosses of a possible negative reaction after the episode aired on April 12, but said it didn't get to "the people who needed to hear it."

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"To be clear, at no time before the airing of the Survivor episode on Wednesday evening was our management aware of his actions on that episode," said Riley. "We make all decisions such as this one with careful consideration of our clients, employees and our agents."

Varner said that he "wasn't even given the chance to explain or right the wrong" to his bosses. He also said that he's been in therapy for 10 months because of the incident, which he called "traumatic."

He said he has been contacted by other real estate firms after the incident.

"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," said Varner. "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."

Social media users also responded negatively to Varner's actions on the show, with one calling it "the most despicable thing I have ever seen someone do on a game that I have watched for 17 years."

"You messed up, but you apologized and that’s all humans can do when they hurt each other," said another user who was more forgiving toward Varner. "No one is perfect. Hang in there!"

"Apologies only have meaning when they are expressing sincere regret for a mistake," responded another user. "What Varner did was no mistake. He intentionally humiliated Zeke and tried to justify it."

Sources: Greensboro News & Record, CNN, Entertainment Tonight / Photo credit: Sean MacEntee/Flickr

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