Bob Crowley now has a 1-in-6 chance of winning the $1 million prize on “Survivor” as the CBS show heads into its final two episodes this week.

Crowley, a South Portland resident who teaches physics at Gorham High School, has become a game favorite.

“He’s playing the game well and he has been playing us pretty well here in school,” said Gorham High School counselor Ryan Watts with a laugh. “He has this school buzzing and really, none of us are shocked that he has made it this far.”

Two episodes of “Survivor: Gabon – Earth’s Last Eden” remain this season. Episode 13 airs Thursday at 8 p.m. on Channel 13, the CBS affiliate, and the two-hour season finale airs at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The 57-year-old has used his intelligence, survival knowledge, fishing skills and craftsmanship to claw his way into the top six contenders. During the course of the show, he’s gone from a quiet, bow-tie-wearing Mainer who appeared to be in Africa for the sheer adventure of it to one of the game’s craftiest and smoothest players.

In the middle of the season, Crowley took hits from “Survivor” bloggers and national journalists for not making alliances. Now that he’s outwitted 12 other competitors, those same writers have backed off. The show started with 18 contestants.

“The only way this show would turn out good is if Bob won, because everyone else there doesn’t deserve a penny of a million dollars,” Corinne Kaplan told People.com after she was voted off during the Dec. 4 episode.

Crowley appears to have won the admiration of the nation, but he certainly has earned the respect of his colleagues and fans in Gorham.

“We are all rooting for Bob,” said Jennifer Hughes, a secretary at Gorham High School. “It’s incredible, but so many of us have been telling Bob for years that he should be on this show.”

Crowley still has a lot of work to do to get into the top three. Ken Hoang, one of the remaining six players in the game, last week made it clear that he wanted Crowley to go, and previews of this Thursday’s episode appear to show Hoang still pushing for Crowley’s departure.

Fans of the show, however, say that move could backfire on Hoang because of Crowley’s likeability and prowess at playing the game.

“I have a good feeling about this week,” said Gorham High School teacher Sally Hatch. “He’s been playing the game like a real champ and if he can continue to win immunity, he will be all set.”

Crowley survived last week’s episode by winning the immunity challenge after Hoang appeared to have rounded up enough votes to oust him.

Crowley also won the reward challenge. He got to see his wife Peggy for the first time in more than one month. The show flew the remaining contestants’ loved ones to Gabon and the reward challenge winner earned the right to have pizza, beer and dessert with a family member in a private setting.

Crowley returned the camp, however, with a surprise. He whistled and the remaining cast members’ loved ones all came into the camp to spend time with the Survivors.

Fans aren’t surprised that Crowley is where he is.

“I am not surprised, but I’m amazed each week as the odds of winning the million dollars improve,” said Gorham High teacher Jason Tanguay.

Regardless of the final outcome on the show, Crowley has succeeded in becoming the talk of the school.

“It’s been an easy way of getting students to talk to me before a counseling session,” Watts said. “We start pretty much every conversation on Friday morning after the show with, ‘Did you see the show last night?’ It’s a great icebreaker.”

Tanguay said he has used Crowley’s exploits as as teaching tool.

“I think what Bob’s experience has shown our kids at GHS is that being a good problem solver is important,” Tanguay said. “Bob has also shown them that being a good person is an important part of even the craziest of shows, like ‘Survivor.’ “

South Portland resident and Gorham High School physics teacher Bob Crowley shares a dinner and a laugh with his wife Peggy during episode 12 of Survivor. South Portland resident and Gorham High School physics teacher Bob Crowley works to solve a puzzle during episode 12 of Survivor. He is one of six remaining contestants on this season’s Survivor. Episode 13 airs Thursday at 8 p.m. and the season finale airs Sunday at 8 p.m.Bob Crowley has proven that problem solving skills can be an asset on a show like ‘Survivor.’


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