Jeff Probst shared that he thinks it may be time to “retire” the use of the word “guys” when referring to contestants on the show.

Probst, who has hosted all 41 seasons of Survivor, says “come on in guys” to invite competitors into challenges on the show.

In the first episode of the show’s latest season, which is the first to air in 497 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting production, Probst asked the cast what they think of the phrase.

“I need your guidance on something,” he said. “For 20 years, I have used one phrase to call people in for challenges, ‘Come on in guys.’ Love saying it. It’s part of the show. But I, too, want to be of the moment. So my question to you, to decide for us: In the context of Survivor, is a word like ‘guys’ OK or is it time to retire that word? What do you think?”

At first, there was no objection to the use of the word, with one of the LGBTQ+ players, Evvie Jagoda, even saying that it doesn’t bother her.

She said: “I personally think ‘guys’ is OK. ‘Come on in guys’ is like such a signature expression. I, as a woman, as a queer woman, do not feel excluded by ‘guys.’”

Other players confirmed to be members of the LGBTQ+ community during the season’s opening episode were Genie Chen and Ricard Foyé.

The latter later voiced concern over Probst’s question, stating that the catchphrase should be changed to be more inclusive.

“I don’t agree that we should use the word ‘guys,’” Foyé told Probst after it was said to call the group together. “I fully agree that we should change it – whether it just be dropping ‘guys,’ changing it to something else. I just don’t really agree with it.

“The reality is that Survivor has changed over the last 21 years; and those changes have allowed all of us, all of these brown people, Black people, Asian people, so many queer people, to be here simultaneously.”

The response was welcomed by the host, who said he was “glad” that the phrase will never be used again on the show.

He responded: “It’s a great point and I’ve got to say I love that you thought about it more. I love that you have the courage inside a million-dollar game, in which standing up any time is risky, to bring it up again, because I’m with you.

“I want to change it. I’m glad that was the last time I will ever say it.”

Aware that the change will receive backlash, Probst jokingly shared his Twitter username during the episode before it also flashed on screen.

“I’ll probably never read it anyway,” he said of anyone potentially sending him hate. “All right. I love that. We just made a change. From now on, it is: ‘Come on in.’”

The show’s 41st season has been hailed as a “new era” of Survivor by CBS, with Probst and the rest of the production team having more of a focus on diversity from this season onwards.

First airing in 2000, Survivor sees a group of contestants live on an island together as they vote each other out one by one.

The new season started on 22 September and will air weekly until a new Sole Survivor is crowned and given the $1 million prize.