Chris Hammons was the 10th person voted out Season 33 of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. He has a message for his fans.
I want to thank all the fans out there across the state of Oklahoma and across the country that have been so good to me. On Twitter, on Reddit, all the social media fans out there, it’s been great, and I appreciate all the support.
My experience on Survivor was, well, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime dream. (Hopefully it’s not once-in-a-lifetime. Hopefully I get to go back.) It was a long time coming. Sixteen years of trying to get on, hoping to get on. To live out that dream was just fantastic. Even though I didn’t go to the end, I did my best, and I hope everybody enjoyed it.
Well, being voted off was miserable. It was a low point in my life when as I’m walking down that lonely ramp down to the bottom. It’s a long walk, and you’re thinking things through. And it hit me: my buddy Zeke had backstabbed me. It was a really a tough, tough blindside — and it was a blindside, a true blindside. It’s a Survivor experience you don’t want to go through, but now that I’ve lived it, it’s still a good experience overall.
I have a special place in my heart for the University of Oklahoma, for the football team and the Sooner Nation. And that’s why when I got my flame snuffed, I gave the Boomer Sooner callout to the Sooner Nation. So I hope I did Oklahoma proud.
Survivor to me, it was a journey. It was on the Bucket List. It was the only thing on the Bucket List. People have all these things they want to do before they pass away or croak, you know. For me, it was Survivor — that was it. To be able to go on there and do pretty well and actually be a favorite to win was just fantastic. It was a life dream of mine.
And for my family and my law firm to allow me to do that and have support for me while I was gone was just fantastic. It’s just kind of — I said it at the Ponderosa — it’s kind of a capstone for my life and career and my journey was being on that show and experiencing that and toughing it out. So I’m really proud of that and just hope that everybody enjoyed watching.
Chris Hammons has been arguing his clients’ cases in front of Oklahoma juries for more than a decade. Working as a personal injury attorney can be an all-or-nothing career — a gamble Chris doesn’t mind. He recently talked about why he chose this path.
Why does personal injury law interest you?
I started out in law school really interested in criminal defense, but the personal injury side, for me, and criminal defense go hand-in-hand. You’re representing people who have either been accused or something or have been injured against the state of Oklahoma or a giant insurance company or a corporation. It’s kind of like I’ve always been for the little guy, is how I’ve always viewed my legal career.”
Why did you choose personal injury law?“
Personal injury really came from internships and things. You know, I got into interning with a firm that did a lot of personal injury. I thought it was interesting, you know, seeing people who are hurt, really don’t have any money, don’t really have a whole lot of hope, or need help. That just goes hand-in-hand with the way I think of things. Let’s see if we can get them some help. At the same time, it’s good money when it’s there. I felt like it was better than go and bill x number of hours at x number of dollars per hour. I think it’s a little more meaningful for me.”
What’s it like being a trial attorney?
“Being a trial attorney is definitely a lot different than your normal corporate lawyer that’s going to go down and read contracts and things. Being a trial lawyer is very difficult. It’s probably the hardest thing in our profession because juries are very unpredictable. You don’t know what a jury’s going to do. No one does. Not even the best trial lawyers. Extremely stressful because oftentimes we’re working on a contingency fee, which means all the time, all the money, all the effort we have as an office and I have with my partner in the case — it’s all on the line. It’s either you win or you really lose big as a firm. But also the clients — they’re counting on you for a win. So the pressure is very high. The stakes are high. It’s a lot of stress. But the wins are fun. The gamble of it is fun. It’s exciting. Plus, it’s exciting to go to court and see if you can out-maneuver the other side.”
Do you enjoy the stress of the job?
“I unfortunately do like that pressure, I think. I don’t know why. I’m starting to figure out it’s harder and harder. The bigger we grow, the more pressure it is. The bigger cases we get. The more cases we get. And even with some of the younger attorneys or less experienced attorneys, they’re coming to me for advice. So I feel a tremendous amount of pressure in my job, but I also don’t know what I’d do without that pressure either.
Oklahoma City attorney Chris Hammons, a former University of Oklahoma football team captain, is one of 20 castaways competing for $1 million on Season 33 of Survivor. This season, “Millennials vs Gen X” will premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 on CBS.
Hammons is a personal injury attorney and partner at Laird Hammons Laird. Being on the show wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision; it had been a dream of Hammons’ ever since watching Season 1. He applied to be on the show many times before he was selected.
“There isn’t a game on the planet harder than Survivor,” Hammons said. “It makes it all the more exciting to set out and try to win the hardest game that exists in the world.”
Hammons is a trial attorney focused on personal injury litigation and fighting for the underdogs. He is known by his coworkers to be determined, persistent, and hardworking. He’s also known as a fierce competitor.
“He’s a pretty sly guy. He could easily walk you off a cliff smiling and patting you on the back,” said Jonathan R. Ortwein, a personal injury attorney who works at Laird Hammons Laird. “Chris is very relatable and fun to be around, but he’s always unnoticeably moving two to three steps ahead of everybody.”
Hammons began his prep for Survivor before he found out he was selected, in the hopes that he would get the call. Hammons’ Survivor prep consisted of physical and mental training. He studied past seasons. He also started lifting heavier weights, and he put on a few pounds to be in the best shape possible when entering the game.
Hammons is 6-foot-4. His fitness-oriented mentality hasn’t left him since his youth, and he believes that staying in shape physically also helps him mentally. He wakes up early every morning to work out before coming home to help his two boys get ready for school.
Coming from modest means, Hammons worked hard to get to where he is today. “I still believe that this is America, and if you get up and work hard you can do anything,” he said. “I came from nothing. If I can make it, anyone can.”
In high school, Hammons studied hard and was always active in sports, playing both basketball and football. After graduation, his goal was to play football at the University of Oklahoma. He was a walk-on who was eventually voted team captain in 2001, leading his team to a national championship. After college, Hammons earned his law degree at the University of Oklahoma. Today he practices law as a personal injury attorney.
“Chris doesn’t give up. If he has a goal, he will follow through no matter how long it takes him,” said his wife, Jennifer Hammons. “He doesn’t fail well.”
Survivor Millennials vs Gen X: Chris Hammons Before The Game
It’s not just the first side of the Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X equation who are going to be missing their technology when they set foot in Fiji. As soon as the press day, Oklahoma trial lawyer Chris Hammons is already wishing he had his phone so he could give his kids a call....
Only Chris Hammons and his fellow castaways know how Season 33 of Survivor will play out, but some of the attorneys and staff members at his law firm made their best guesses.
Will Chris be willing to do something gross?
Jason Michael Hicks, Social Security disability lawyer:
Yeah. I would say that probably for this show, he would do whatever they wanted him to do or whatever he thought he’d need to do to be successful and hopefully to win.
Todd Kernal, criminal defense lawyer:
Absolutely. He will. Whatever it takes. He’s been trying to get on that show for 15 years. Whatever it takes, he’ll do it. One thing I can’t wait for the entire world to see is his tramp stamp. Oh, yeah. And it’s bad. It’s like a tribal band, and it’s way low. I cannot wait for the whole world to see that.
Jonathan R. Ortwein, personal injury attorney:
I have no doubt Chris will do just about anything they put out there. I have yet to find many topics of conversation or any pictures of horrible accidents or anything that make Chris cringe that much. He’s kind of unflappable a bit in that aspect.
Averi Carriger, legal assistant:
He’s not scared, and everyone else is going to be grossed out by it and he wants to show them, like, “Oh, I can do it.”
Will Chris be a hero or a villain?
Chris is a pretty strong-willed, strong, hard-headed person and also a people person. I could really see it go either way. It depends on what side he wants to show. If he wants to butt heads with everybody, I can see a lot of conflict. But he’s also kind of a work-the-room people person who can kind of schmooze people and really get along with people well if he wants to. It actually could go either way. Or maybe both, I guess.
I would not be surprised at all if he’s cast as a bit of a villain. I think he could easily come off as a bit of an old curmudgeon in a younger man’s body. Just from working with Chris for a while, I can easily see that. He gives quite a few quotable lines that they could easily cast him as kind of the old man villain. He’s a pretty sly guy. He’s kind of one that can easily walk you off a cliff while smiling at you and patting you on the back. I would see that pretty easily. He’s real relatable, and people want to like him. He’s fun to be around. But at the same time, he’s always moving two or three steps ahead. I think it’s one a lot of people won’t see coming, and next thing you know, he’s waving bye-bye.
I don’t know. I’m super nervous if he’s going to be mean or what they’re going to portray him as. It could probably be either way — really mean or really nice. I don’t know.
What parts of his Chris’s personality do you think will come out?
He often goes around acting like everything is the game of Survivor. In a certain sense, in his real life, he looks at it in that way as to how can he position things to make things work, and he’s been pretty good at it. As far as a weakness goes, I think probably overconfidence. He doesn’t lack in a sense of confidence and belief in himself. I think that could definitely both rub people wrong the way in a certain sense but also come across as someone who could be in this show a strong player, which of course would make him a target. So the ability to stay kind of quiet and blend in might be difficult for him.
He’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. If he can’t do it, his brain won’t allow him to make the decision to stop. He’ll just keep going. And he’s pretty smart. And again, I don’t know much about Survivor, but I would find a way to get him out of there as fast as possible.
When it comes time for the competitions, the games, the challenges, he is incredibly competitive. I think it will be like trying to stop a freight train to get him to back down. But at the same time, he’s an excellent negotiator. And I think as long as he knows what he’s doing, and as long as he’s out a step ahead, all of it’s going to come through, but it’s going to be very managed. Maybe that’s the side of the personality that’s going to come out the most – Chris the manager. It’s not even that the other contestants are going to see it, but the audience might see it. He’s going to know how to play his role in each specific context. I think people would probably take Chris as initially maybe a bit of a threat, but the more you talk to him he’s kind of folksy. He’s really relatable. I can see people thinking, ‘This guy is nice. He’s probably not up to a whole lot.’ I think that might not last very long because I think sometimes it could come out pretty quickly that this is a really smart guy that you’re messing with. It could be a bit of a problem later on down the road.
I think all of Chris’s personality is going to shine through. I think when it’s time to be competitive, he’s going to be the biggest competitor out there. I think when it’s face-to-face, he’s going to be the nicest. On the diary, when you go talk to the camera by yourself, I think you’re really going to hear what he really has to say about people but they don’t know they’re saying that. I think it’s all going to come out. Chris is really good at taking his own ideas but presenting it in a way that you think it’s yours. I think that’s going to make him really great at the social game.
When Chris left for filming, where did you think he was going?
All kinds of thoughts, really. Maybe like a rehab. Maybe like a long midlife crisis vacation type thing.Jonathan: When I first found out Chris was going to be gone, it wasn’t even from Chris. He had just been out for a trial and I came in and was talking to our assistants up front. They said, “Well, Chris is going to be gone for about 45 days.” And I thought it was a joke at first. And they were like, “Really, it’s on his calendar. He’s going to be gone.” I went down and checked with him and kind of prompted him, and he said, “Well, yeah, I’m going to be gone. I’ve got some stuff going on.” I pretty much kept prodding him. Is everything OK? Pretty much he was: “I’m not dying, Johnny. I’ve got to be gone for a little while. I’ve got some stuff going on.” I was a little bit surprised and a little bit confused and at the same time not at all.
When Chris told us he was going to be gone, I of course wanted to know why, and I kept bugging him every single day, thinking I could get him to crack. He never did. So we kept making fun of him and throwing out stuff, like, oh, you’re going to go do this or you’re going to do this. We’d tease him and say he was going to be on “Naked and Afraid.” We just kind of kept it a joke and kept it light. I had a client who thought he was out getting extensive medical surgery, such as butt implants, so I heard some really wild things. That’s the truth. I had some clients that were just angry. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to tell them. Just, “He’s gone, he’ll be back, and he’s OK.”
Be sure to watch Chris Hammons on Season 33 of Survivor, which premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21 on CBS.
General Information about Chris Hammons:
Chris Hammons Quotes
About work: “This is America. If you get up and work hard, you can do anything. I have taken that stance my whole life because I came from nothing. If I can make it, anyone can. Get up, go to work and try.”
Positive attributes of Millennials: “Millennials are intellectual, have great ideas, free spirits, forgiving, and inclusive. They’re probably what we need to be, socially speaking — more forgiving, less social strife. There are many pros to the younger generation, in my opinion.”
Negative attributes of Millennials: “A little misguided, all over the place, and scattered. Maybe a little less hardworking, wake up at 10 or 11 a.m. and have a great idea.”
About preparing for Survivor: “I was very hopeful I’d make it. I amped up my weight training, trying to get in the best shape I can be in. I watched almost every season again to see if there were any repeated challenges to get tips from that and paid attention.”
Chris in the News
Here are some stories about Chris Hammons and his appearance on Season 33 of Survivor:
All interviews with Chris during Season 33 of Survivor are coordinated through the CBS press office for Survivor.
High-Res Images of ChrisClick on the thumbnails below for the full versions. Need images of Chris on Survivor? Check out CBS Express.