About a week after CBS announced its latest cast of “Survivor” contestants last month, Bob Crowley got a friend request on Facebook, then a phone call.

Both were from Ashley Underwood, the fifth contestant from Maine to appear on the show.

“She said, ‘Oh my God, what should I do? I’m on ‘Survivor,’ ” said Crowley of South Portland, who won the show’s $1 million prize in 2008.

The season premiere of “Survivor: Redemption Island” airs tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS. Underwood, 26, a basketball star and Miss Maine USA pageant winner who grew up in Benton, is one of 18 contestants on the show. She already has at least a couple of fans.

“I’ll be watching the whole season for sure, without a doubt,” Crowley said, “at least as long as Ashley’s on.”

Julie Berry, a 2004 contestant from Gorham, said she, too, will tune in while she’s babysitting her niece tonight.

“I’m very loyal to the Mainers on ‘Survivor,’ ” she said.

Maine people have a quality that’s helpful in the competition, according to Zoe Zanidakis, a player in 2002.

“They don’t take things for granted,” she said.

Crowley believes being from Maine gives contestants an “unfair” advantage. But that’s not the only reason he thinks Underwood will go far.

“She’s athletic, she’s bright, she’s from Maine. So, she’s got all the cards in her pocket,” he said.

Berry, who said she’s read about Underwood, agreed.

“She looks super fierce and amazing,” she said.

But coming off as too tough can make it hard to win, said Tina Scheer, who owns the Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Trenton and was on “Survivor” in 2006.

In three days on the show, Scheer built a shelter, found water and caught fish with her bare hands. She was the first voted off.

“They thought I was too strong and would have beat them all out,” she said.

Despite her early exit, Scheer said she enjoyed her time and remains a “big fan” of the show.

Though the four former contestants from Maine have little in common, they all said their “Survivor” experiences were unforgettable.

For Zanidakis, the show “seems like a whole different lifetime” from what she’s doing now — working at a coffee shop, painting houses and doing landscaping in Los Angeles.

Though she doesn’t own a television, she said she might catch a few episodes at friends’ houses.

Zanidakis said she doesn’t get recognized much anymore, but that wasn’t the case when she was living in Maine while the show was airing.

“Once the word was out and it was on TV, I had more beers bought for me than I ever had before,” she said.

Berry, who stayed in the spotlight by dating “Survivor” host Jeff Probst for three years, said she was spotted by a fan in a coffee shop recently.

Now a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles, she said, none of her clients have told her they watched her on the show.

Crowley, however, has a hard time going anywhere without drawing attention. After retiring from teaching, he traveled the world with his wife, Peggy, and even was spotted by fans in other countries.

“That kind of floored me,” he said.

Driving to a movie with his wife last week, Crowley said he wasn’t sure if he’d be recognized in the theater without his signature look.

“I’m not wearing my bow tie tonight,” he said.