Survivor: Winners At War host Jeff Probst has revealed Survivor's polarizing Edge Of Extinction twist was a major part of the show's pitch to convince former winners to come back and play again.

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Jeff has revealed that although the Edge of Extinction isn't a popular twist amongst passionate Survivor fans, the return of the twist was a carrot that producers used to entice winning castaways return for an epic Season 40.

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"The number one reason [it's back] is that I did feel that when we called winners, that if they thought it was one and out -- 'I'm voted out and I'm done' -- their chances of saying yes were not as high as if it would be if I said, 'No matter what, you will have another shot at the prize,'" Jeff recently told Entertainment Weekly in a video interview.

At the Edge of Extinction, voted-out castaways await an opportunity to compete for a spot back in the original game.

Castaways voted out of the game one by one are given an option to head to Ponderosa and end their game for good or continue playing on the Edge, which is presented as a desolate, remote island with harsher conditions than at camp and limited supplies and food.

While castaways are not technically competing to be the "Sole Survivor" when they're on the Edge, they are able to send advantages to players in the real game.

Jeff insisted the return of the Edge of Extinction "did make a difference" in the casting process, given former winners feared they could be the first person voted out on Day 3.

Many former winners also had to leave a lot behind at home, such as Rob "Boston Rob" Mariano and wife Amber Mariano, who have four daughters. Parvati Shallow also welcomed a child shortly before filming commenced -- so appearing on Survivor again had to be worth it.

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"One player after another would say, 'Are you doing something like Edge? Tell me you are.' And I said, 'I can't tell you what we're doing. I can only tell you you'll have a fair shot to win the game,'" Jeff recalled.

"And they all read between the lines, which is what I wanted them to do -- it's fair. And so Edge of Extinction is really saying, in a season in which you are lucky enough to get these winners to come back and play again, give them a chance to play."

"Let's leave them out there," Jeff added, "and if the people don't want them to win, they'll vote them back out again."
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Jeff insisted several former Survivor champs needed real incentive to play again and appear on Season 40. (The $2 million grand prize that will be awarded to the "Sole Survivor" also reportedly helped).

So when asked whether fans would have missed out on a few Survivor favorites without the Edge of Extinction, Jeff replied, "Absolutely."

"And I think if you would ask them, that was the ultimate secret sauce: 'I promise you that you won't come out on Day 1 and be voted out first and then have to spend your time on Ponderosa for 35 days,'" Jeff revealed.

"Because these guys want to play. And they don't expect it to be easy. They just want to know, give me a chance! Well, now they've got a chance. And they will earn it. And Extinction will be hard."

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Jeff reasoned, "And I'm pretty sure the audience will love that we're doing it because now everybody is still in -- still got a shot."

Jeff, however, may be biased because he admitted to EW he's a big fan of the second-chance twist.

"Selfishly, I like Edge of Extinction," Jeff shared.

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"I like the losers bracket, and I like seeing the idea of what proven winners -- many of which have never been voted out -- what are they going to go through? Because Extinction is just as hard this season as it was the first time we did it."

In addition to the Edge of Extinction twist, Survivor: Winners At War will also implement new Fire Tokens, which will be used as Survivor currency to purchase luxuries, such as food and comfort, as well as advantages.

In fact, Fire Tokens can be exchanged between players in the game and castaways on the Edge of Extinction, adding a new layer to the game's strategy and social dynamics.

When the Edge of Extinction was first introduced on Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Survivor's 38th season, two players -- Rick Devens and Chris Underwood -- were allowed to re-enter the game after they won respective challenges, and Chris went on to win the $1 million that season. (Rick finished in fourth place).

But Chris' win was tainted after many Survivor fans argued he had plenty of time to befriend and win over the jury, whom he was living with on the Edge.

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The jury also allegedly coached Chris and told him what exactly he needed to do to win the game if he managed to win his spot back in the original competition and resume playing.

Survivor's 40th season was reportedly filmed in Fiji in May and June 2019, shortly after the show's Survivor: Island of the Idols season was also filmed in Fiji.

Survivor: Winners At War will feature 20 former winners when it premieres with a special two-hour episode Wednesday, February 12 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.

Following its premiere, the Survivor season will air in the show's regular Wednesday 8-9PM ET/PT time period beginning February 19.