The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor

#50. I'm not Gary Hogeboom, I only play him on TV
Guatemala - Multiple Episodes

Gary Hawkins

God I loved this storyline.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the story arc of Gary "I'm not Gary Hogeboom" Hogeboom. The idea that a famous (or semi-famous) person would go on Survivor and have to lie about their identity made me so giddy that I knew we would be in for some memorable moments. Because there is no way you can lie about something like that on national TV without something interesting happening.

And I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

Gary Hogeboom played quarterback in the NFL for parts of ten seasons. He wasn't a first-tier star by any stretch of the imagination, but he does have name recognition if you talk to people who know anything about football. I mean... you can't have a weird name like "Hogeboom" and not have people remember it. Especially when you were the starting quarterback for arguably the most popular team (Dallas Cowboys) in America.

Here is Gary's playing record, in case you are interested. Note that he never would have been considered a star.

So anyway, the Hogester retires in 1989 and we don't expect to ever hear from him again. We figure he will disappear into the great unknown like all obscure NFL football players and we will never hear from the guy for the rest of our lives.

But then... suddenly... Gary Hogeboom shows up sixteen years later as a cast member of Survivor: Guatemala! His name just pops up out of nowhere, and meanwhile millions of people are scratching their head saying something like, "Hogeboom? Wasn't he a football player of some sort? Or am I thinking of that landscaper guy, Gary Hawkins? Hmmmm. Because I do tend to get those guys awfully confused..."

Yes, that was Gary Hogeboom's strategy going into Survivor: Guatemala. Since other players might recognize his goofy last name, and because some of them might hold it against him that he is probably a multi-millionaire, Gary was going to make up a fake identity and just lie if anybody thought they knew who he really was. Gary Hogeboom the quarterback was now just "Gary Hawkins, landscaper." And if anybody ever caught on he would just deny, deny, deny.

Gary telling us about his "deny everything" policy

So Gary goes on Survivor, and he tries to pass himself off as Gary Hawkins. And in most cases he might have been able to pull this off.

But what do you know... in the Guatemala season there happens to be a chick on the other tribe named Danni. And Danni happens to be a sports radio host. And not only did she know a lot about sports in general, she also happens to have a poster of Gary Hogeboom hanging on her wall back at home! That's right, Danni's father had always been a big Dallas Cowboys fan, so she recognized Mr. Gary Hogeboom the minute she set foot in Guatemala. In fact the first thing she probably said to her tribe at the start of day one was something along the lines of "Oh hey, there's Gary Hogeboom, the Dallas quarterback from '80-'85. That's weird. What do you think he's doing here??"

"I tot I taw a Hogeboom. I did, I did tee a Hogeboom!"

So Gary's cover was blown. And it was blown hard. Danni knew exactly who he was, she told pretty much everybody else in the game who he was, and Gary Hawkins effectively died before he really had a chance to play the game.

But did that affect Gary? Did he ever let it get to him? Hell no! The man had been a damn NFL quarterback, for God's sake! He knew what it was like to play under pressure. So never for a minute did he admit that Danni was right and that he was actually Gary Hogeboom. He actually tried to stick with the Gary Hawkins lie, even while faced with overwhelming anecdotal evidence against him. All throughout the game, Gary kept saying things like, "Gary Hogeboom? NFL quarterback? I wish!" And meanwhile Danni's standing right next to him, trying not to giggle. She knows he is Gary Hogeboom. Everybody knows he is Gary Hogeboom. But never for a minute does Gary waver and actually give in. He keeps trying to pull off the Hawkins story. And no matter what she does, there is no way Danni is ever going to get him to 'fess up.

Gary who? Hoge-what? Never heard of him.

The funniest part of this whole storyline (and one of my favorite moments of Guatemala) is when Danni actually identifies the fact that Gary Hogeboom went to Central Michigan. How she remembers that he went to Central is beyond me (and it's sort of creepy when you stop to think about it) but Danni reels off this info and she waits to see how Mr. Hogeboom is going to react. Is he still going to deny it now? Even when she knows that he went to Central Michigan? And that, oh I don't know, she actually has a fucking poster of him on her wall?!?

"Yeah, you were a quarterback at Central Michigan, remember? I went to your fantasy football camp and you told me I was the best player."

What kills me about this scene is the fact that Gary doesn't deny it. He actually admits that he went to Central. And then he follows it up with:

"Oh sure, I went to Central. But I'm not Gary Hogeboom."

Ha ha ha ha.

Okay, so let me get this straight...

He's expecting her to believe that there is another Gary from Central Michigan, who graduated about the same year as Gary Hogeboom and is about the same age, and that they are not the same guy? Despite the fact that they are both eight feet tall, they are both amazing athletes, and they both look like Lurch from the Addams Family? He actually thought she would buy that story?


Gary's ridiculous admission that yes, he went to Central pleased me on so many levels. Because, first off, I realized that he could now just admit to anything Danni said, and so long as he followed it up with "... but I'm not Gary Hogeboom" he thought it would somehow be plausible. For example, Gary actually believed that he could pull off any of the theoretical conversations below:

DANNI: Weren't you drafted in the 5th round of the 1980 draft?
GARY: Oh, sure. Of course. But I'm not Gary Hogeboom.

DANNI: But you threw for 162 yards against Washington in the 1982 playoffs, right?
GARY: Well yeah, but I also did a bunch of landscaping for the team right afterwards. I was surprised they let me sub for Gary Hogeboom that day.

DANNI: So you're telling me you aren't married to Kristi Hogeboom and sleep with her every night?
GARY: Well of course I do. But you better not tell Gary Hogeboom, because he's liable to kick my ass.

DANNI: Dude, I have a poster of you on my wall that you autographed when I was 8 years old! And you aren't Gary Hogeboom??
GARY: Well, it's possible I signed a poster for you. After all, they do have a lot of landscaping conventions in the greater Kansas City area. But I don't think Gary Hogeboom was there that day too. At least I don't remember him being there, and I have a pretty good memory for that sort of thing.

So anyway yes, I always loved how Gary admitted going to Central Michigan, but he still wouldn't admit that he was Gary Hogeboom. He never had Danni fooled for a second, there was no way he could deny the truth at that point, yet he still gamely carried on in spite of all the evidence against him. And if that's not the guy you want on the field with two minutes left to play, I don't know who is. Personally I don't think that Joe "Macintosh" Montana, John "Ebbets" Elway or Brett "Franz" Favre could have pulled off this lie for a second. The only person who could was Gary "Hawkins" Hogeboom. To this day, he remains the best NFL quarterback (who wasn't really an NFL quarterback) in Survivor history.

Still not Gary Hogeboom

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