Jeff Probst has a busy schedule as the Emmy Award-winning host of Survivor, but he still makes time for his family. When Jeff, 61, is not filming the beloved reality show for two seasons a year in Fiji, he’s spending time with his wife, Lisa Ann Russell, and his two stepchildren. Jeff married Lisa, 51, in 2011, and became a stepfather to her children, Michael and Ava, who she shares with her ex-husband, Saved By the Bell star Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Jeff has a pretty awesome job as the host of Survivor — but his favorite job in life is being a stepfather.
Here is everything you need to know about Jeff Probst’s stepchildren.
Jeff Probst’s Stepchildren, Michael & Ava
Michael Charles Gosselaar is 19 years old and was born in 2004. His sister, Ava Lorenn Gosselaar, is 17 years old and was born in 2006. Their parents got divorced in 2010, and the following year, their mom married Jeff, who officially became their stepdad. Mark-Paul, meanwhile, married Catriona McGinn also in 2011, and they had two children together, son Dekker Edward, born in 2013, and daughter Lachlyn Hope, born in 2015.
Since marrying Lisa, Jeff has talked about how much he cherishes being a stepdad to her kids. Wile talking with Larry King in 2012, Jeff shared how he and Lisa split custody with Mark-Paul and how Michael and Ava truly became like his own. “[Lisa and Mark-Paul] were together almost 20 years. They had a long marriage and they raised these two young kids,” Jeff explained. “They raised them with the kind of love that the kids… they see me and [Mark-Paul’s] now remarried, his wife [Catriona] … they just see us as two more parents.”
“They call me dad,” Jeff also said in the interview. “And you know when it locked in? When we were together before we got married, they were playing with it. Sometimes it would be dad, sometimes it would be Jeff Dad 2, sometimes it would be D2. We got married in my backyard, and when this ring went on my finger, Michael looked up and said, ‘Dad.’ I could tell he knew now that this big thing was official and it was real.”
During a time he was on Rachael Ray‘s talk show, Jeff explained more about his closeness to his step kids. “We’re a blended family, so they are technically—not technically, they are my stepkids—I think of them as mine, which is crazy, but then they have this other family…but I always have to remember they have a dad.”
In 2012, Jeff launched his own talk show, The Jeff Probst Show, which only lasted for one season. At the time, Jeff explained how his role as a stepfather inspired him to slightly “shift” his career and enter the talk show world.
“It really started to shift when I got married and Lisa, my wife, brought in these two amazing kids who started calling me dad,” Jeff said in an interview over a decade ago. “All of a sudden, my world opened so much wider and my world became so much more immense, and that combined with technology and the fact that we are living in a bona fide cultural revolution, that the globe is transforming, is what made me decide I want to be a part of the conversation.”
In 2015, Jeff gave advice to other stepparents in an interview with Kids In The House. “My advice is to not put yourself on the kids and give them expectations,” he said. “Quite the opposite, let them know there’s no expectation and that you’re just someone else here to love them.” Jeff also said that he rejects the notion that marrying someone with kids already is “baggage.” He explained, “If somebody thinks it’s baggage they’re not the right guy. The right guy will say, ‘Wow, you also have kids!’ That’s the right guy.”