Dan Foley flashed smiles and hugged his fans who jammed around him last week at Thatcher’s Restaurant in Gorham, where he watched the second episode of “Survivor” on TV.

Foley, 47, a Gorham resident, is a cast member on the CBS reality TV series, and after two episodes he stayed alive in his quest to be the final survivor and $1 million winner. His TV performance last week drew cheers from those viewing the show at Thatcher’s.

The jubilant Foley held up two fingers.

“Two episodes,” shouted Foley, holding sway amid a throng of well-wishers.

“This is a dream come true for him,” Foley’s wife, Erin, said at Thatcher’s about her husband’s “Survivor” role. “He’s on Cloud 9.”

Foley is soaking it up with appearances in a Hollywood club and at local restaurants. On March 11 he had plans to watch the third episode of “Survivor” at the Stockhouse Restaurant in Westbrook.

On the reality show, filmed last summer in Nicaragua, Foley is a member of the blue-collar Escameca Tribe that is taking on the white-collar Masaya and the no-collar Nagarote tribes. Eighteen contestants, six in each tribe, launched the series.

Survival on the show hinges on wit and skill to avoid being voted off by tribal members. Two contestants have been ousted, and Foley’s survival the first two segments buoyed his fans’ hopes that he’ll win it all.

This week’s show, on WGME TV 13, aired after the American Journal deadline.

In the real world, Foley is a postal service technician at the plant in Scarborough. Foley is the third “Survivor” contestant with ties to Gorham in the past 11 years. Bob Crowley was the “Survivor” victor in 2008, and Julie Berry, who now lives in Los Angeles, narrowly missed making the final four in 2004.

Crowley, a retired Gorham High School physics teacher, is following Foley’s progress on “Survivor,” which premiered on Feb. 25. Foley’s performance made Crowley nervous in the first episode.

“He looked much better last week,” Crowley said. “He didn’t aggravate his tribe.”

Crowley, who was 57 when he won, said of Foley, “He’s a fat old man,” and offered Foley some advice to survive: “Stay under the radar.”

Foley, with his beard and sporting his trademark hat, is very visible locally. Erin Foley bought her husband the hat after their wedding 81?2 years ago.

Foley has lived in Gorham 17 years.

“He always got recognized around town,” Erin Foley said.

But, now as a celebrity, he’s spotted all over the map, even in California.

“I got recognized in L.A.” in a hotel lobby by two women with children, said Foley, who posed for photos with their kids.

“Oh my God, it is you,” he quoted one of the women.

Foley said on Wednesday that he met and was photographed with Julie Berry at a Hollywood party at a club two weeks ago. He said that 17 of the 18 “Survivor” cast members attended the party.

Last week at Thatcher’s, Kyle Pelkey of Gorham said he was “very surprised” when Foley was pointed out. Pelkey, peering across the room, said he recognized the hat and the beard from watching the show’s premiere on Feb. 25.

“It looked like people were getting aggravated” with him, Pelkey said about the show’s first episode, but he noted Foley stayed on the show.

“He’s still hanging,” Pelkey said.

Last week’s gathering to watch the show attracted Foley’s neighbors, tenants, relatives and fellow workers, as well as fans. Some drove to Gorham from central Maine and New Hampshire.

Barbara Cross of Portland, who met Foley at a “Survivor” casting call, was on hand to share in the excitement last week. Another of Foley’s followers, Jan Sullivan of Portland, described Foley as outgoing and gregarious.

“I came for the experience of the Dan fix,” Sullivan said.

Foley last week mingled through the crowd and worked his way from table to table easily greeting people.

“This is no pretense, this is him,” Sullivan said.

A fellow postal employee, Debbie Maxfield of Westbrook, has worked with Foley for years and was at Thatcher’s.

“He’s always happy-go-lucky,” Maxfield said.

For the broadcast, all eyes were on the screens.

In the challenge on the show, Foley dove into water and swam.

“You’re going to be surprised by the fat guy,” he said on air before plunging.

“I thought he did awesome in the challenge,” Maxfield said, and Maxfield’s granddaughter, Dominique Maxfield, agreed.

“The blue-collar team is good, he did really good,” she said.

Foley’s screen performance drew repeated cheers. “Amazing. He was great,” Foley’s cousin, Thomas Ward of Portland, said.

And Foley’s followers are swamping his social media sites.

“My Twitter, my Facebook is melting down,” Foley said.

He even has followers in Europe, as Foley said he had a message from England. “You killed it tonight, Dan,” he read.

This week, Crowley, a Durham resident who was in Arizona last week, will view “Survivor” in Bangor. Crowley was disappointed that he was unable to be with Foley for this week’s broadcast.

“I wish I could join him to give him a hard time,” Crowley said.

“Survivor” contestant Dan Foley of Gorham chats up Portland residents Thomas Ward and Barbara Cross last week at Thatcher’s Restaurant in Gorham.Staff photo by Robert Lowell


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