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What can we say about Erik? He earned himself a place in the Survivor Hall of Fame, no doubt. Will the gentle ice cream scooper ever look at women the same way again? Will he ever give a woman a necklace without remembering the first time…when he gave it away for nothing? As for us viewers, all I can say is that Erik, you will not be soon forgotten.
Q: How many times today have you been asked, “What were you thinking?”
A: How many? Well, all four of you are probably going to ask that question, so that will make it…(thinking) forty-five.
Q: So what were you thinking?
A: That’s a good question. Obviously my judgment was clouded by the girls putting all these different ideas in my head, there was all this emotion going on. There’s not really one answer that I can say straight up, “This is what happened.” You can see it from the way Amanda was messing with me. Amanda, one day we’re best friends, and the next day she would hate me again or she’d want to get rid of me or whatever, and I should have been able to say, “You know what, I’m in the way of them getting a million dollars.” I should be able to see that and separate that from the game, but I wasn’t able to.
Q: Which of the women, whose argument convinced you?
A: It was a combination of Natalie and Cirie. Definitely, Natalie is very good at persuading people to do things she wants them to do. It worked with Jason – and I should have seen that, I should have recognized that immediately as a threat – but she came up to me probably right after the immunity challenge and said, “Hey, what do you think about this idea?” And I said, “You are dumb. That is a dumb idea. I’m not going to do that.” But by the end of the day I did it. I was doing it. She pretty much took her and Cirie’s idea and made me believe it was my idea. And to that, they’re really good social players. They’re amazing social players.
Q: How did they give you to go from talking about just voting a certain way to actually giving up the necklace?
A: First of all, Cirie gave her word. She said she swore on God or something like that. Up to that point, I had not seen Cirie physically lie, I’d seen her keep her word to Jason when I thought for sure Jason was going to go home. I thought Cirie was pretty trustworthy, which I think is ridiculous now after seeing the show. In addition, they said it would help make up for not sending Natalie to Exile, that it would be a nice gesture seen by the jury. In my eyes, it made sense for Cirie and Natalie to come with me because Amanda and Parvati were very close. They said many times they would never vote for each other. So those two aren’t broken up; that’s a big threat. I thought it made sense for Cirie and Natalie to come with me and get out those two then have to deal with them when it was down to all women.
Q: I was wondering who you trusted the most?
A: I probably trusted – that’s a good question. A really damn good question. First off, I didn’t trust any of them very much at all. Obviously, I was the last one left and they were all trying to get me out. If I had to trust somebody the most, it was Cirie – and it was Cirie because up to that point I hadn’t seen her lie up to that point, I hadn’t seen her betray anybody. She did a really good job of hiding her game. When I started to watch this season, I’m pretty amazed at her ability to mastermind everything that was going on without anybody knowing it. I thought she was slipping by every vote, when really she was running it.
Q: Will you ever look at women the same way again?
A: (chuckling) People have said that to me too. A lot of it was the game, a lot of it was the motivation of a million dollars, and you’re playing to win. I was pretty hurt by pretty much all the girls there, and it’s going to take a while for those wounds to heal, but I’m not going to judge all women by the standards of a few. Like I know I got along really great with Alexis. Me and Alexis had a good relationship out there, and I know she wouldn’t have done anything like that. It just depends on who was there that determines my trust in women.
Q: You got played like a violin. Why did you even listen to anything they said?
A: Honestly, I would have been better off running to the other side of the island and staying by myself and Surviving. That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. The thing that happens that I think a lot of people forget is that when you’re out there the only people you have out there is those people. I was pretty naïve, and I got played, there’s no question about it. It was just crazy.
Q: Do you think it’s because of your youth?
A: I think that’s part of it. I honestly am from a small part of the world, a small town, and I work as an ice cream man. I don’t analyze people for a living, and I don’t people in a business environment like you would on Survivor. I just don’t treat people that way. I treat other people – I talk to them, they’re my friends, and I treat them with something more, and I felt like they were really good at it and I was just awful at it.
Q: Can you comment on any of the Fans that left the game early on?
A: Mikey B. kind of scared me. That’s why I was okay with voting for him at that time. I know other people were not okay with that because he was a strong guy, but he kind of scared me early on. Joel – Joel’s a very powerful man. He’s very strong, he knows what he’s doing – I feel like if he could have made it far, he would have been a force to be reckoned with, he would have had a shot at it. That’s why he had such a big target on his back. But he definitely had some anger problems because he was just hungry. After, like, day three of not eating, he wanted to rip Kathy’s head off. He was just mad at everything. He was just a dad who doesn’t have any dinner or TV when he comes home from work. Kathy is a different story. A lot of people call her “Crazy Kathy” but really, she’s a very nice person. She’s a very different person, and there’s nothing wrong with that. She likes to talk a lot about family and stuff like that. I felt like she was just out of her element. She felt like she was in the wrong place.
Q; What’s your take on Chet, because we’ve heard some Survivors praise him for suffering through his foot injury, and we heard Jason claim he was exaggerating – what’s your opinion?
A: Chet? It’s interesting you say that about Jason because Jason and Chet did not get along. Jason and Chet were enemies from day one. They hated each other. They absolutely despised each other. So it’s no surprise that Jason would say something bad like that towards Chet, or that Chet would say something like that towards Jason. I know Chet is hilarious. In real life, he’s a really funny guy. I think his injury was sincere. He was limping on it – he was in a lot of pain. I think it was sincere but it just wasn’t visible. It’s like a bruise inside your body somewhere, like you could be dying of something else and just not see it on the surface. I think he was in legitimate pain. Jason made a lot of enemies out there. He made a lot of people angry because he acted arrogant or he did what he wanted to and didn’t care about other people, and I think to some extent that’s true. I definitely think that’s true. But he tried very hard at challenges and he was very confident in himself.
Q: Watching the show when you got eliminated on TV, did you already know the behind-the-scenes backstabbing that was going on? Did you find that out talking to them after filming, or did you find out last night?
A: Which surprise?
Q: All their scheming and backstabbing, getting together and plotting – did you know that or was it a surprise?
A: That was a pretty big surprise, especially Parvati’s game. I really didn’t get to know Parvati very well. She was on the other tribe for most of the time when the girls’ alliance began, and I really didn’t get to see a lot of that. That really shocked me to see they were willing to go to those lengths, but hey – it’s a million dollars, and that’s the name of the game.
Q: What’s your relationship with them now?
A; We’re able to put the game aside and say, “That’s what happened, and it’s all right.” At the end of the day, someone is going to get screwed over. That’s how Survivor’s played. You’re going to get screwed over eventually, unless you win it which is the only way out of that situation.
Q: When we were watching the show, it really looked like to viewers that when you gave away the immunity necklace everyone was trading looks, Ozzy was shaking his head. Did you get the feeling right away that you’d done the wrong thing?
A: Halfway through Tribal, I made my final decision about what I wanted to do. After thinking over everything was going on, and after listening to Natalie and Cirie all day go on about guarantees and whatnot, the fact that this would be a good move and all this other stuff – and when I finally made the decision to do it, I didn’t look at anybody. Which was the dumbest thing I could have done because I would have seen the warning signs on everybody’s face and not done it. But I had made up my mind and told myself not to look at anybody else for help because everybody is going to think you’re totally nuts. Which I was. I was totally nuts. I didn’t look up at all.
Q: Do you think there’s going to be a question about you in a future Survivor challenge?
A: I can only hope so. I hope so.
Q: Why did you take Amanda with you on reward and send Parvati to Exile?
A: All right. Back up here a little bit. In terms of Amanda, that was kind of a throwback to when I voted for her in Tribal Council before and I was trying to get her back on my side somewhat. I thought it would be a nice gesture, but obviously Amanda didn’t see it as that. Immediately after we got back from this awesome reward, she started just nay saying me and saying all these things against me, so that didn’t work at all. That didn’t profit me at all. But generally, I liked Amanda better than the other girls, and I knew her better than anybody else there. As far as sending Parvati to Exile, that was the first dumb move that ends up leading to all the other stuff, because all it did was piss off Natalie and guarantee that Parvati was still in control of the game. I sent Parvati because following the conversation with Natalie on the beach, I had the conversation with Amanda about sending Parvati, then there was a conversation with all the girls involved and myself, and we all said we should send Parvati. The problem was I listened to that one when everyone was there when it should have been Natalie no matter what.
Q: What did you learn about yourself through this experience?
A: I‘ve learned I need to stand up for myself. I need to be more aggressive. I played a pretty passive game. I kind of hid behind Joel for the first part of the game, and I hid behind Ozzy after that, and after that I just kind of floated along without any alliance or anything. I should have just stood up and said, “You know what, I have the power now, I should just go with this.” I mean, I had all the power but I blew it because I was playing a very passive, under-the-radar game when I needed to step up. I think that’s what I learned the most; you have to kind of go for it.
Q: When Ozzy and Jason got eliminated the way they did, did you feel a bigger target on your back because you’re male?
A: Well, it’s kind of interesting. A lot of people disliked Jason at the time he was gone, and a lot of people were so glad about that vote. They were really glad he was gone, myself included. At that time I really thought it was about Jason’s personality. I didn’t think it was a male thing until later when I started to feel it out more. I realized the women’s alliance had gained some steam and after Alexis left, I knew for sure it was about me.
Q: As a fan of the show from such a young age, how does watching the show now compare to living through it?
A: It’s so different. It’s so different to watch the show than live it. They have to take three days worth of footage on multiple cameras and whittle all that down to an hour. The editing just in terms of time is totally different. There’s different stories going on, different reasonings for things people do that just can’t be explained in that hour. So the whole experience is terribly strange to have lived it as opposed to having watched it. That’s one of the things that this season has shown, that living it is a lot harder than having just watched it from home and studied it.
Q: I was expecting you to have said something about confessionals, and seeing what other people actually were thinking.
A: That was pretty interesting as well, especially when it was another tribe and you couldn’t see what they had to say. As far as acting, Amanda’s an excellent actor. She’s so good at just pretending she feels a certain way and doing the exact opposite. The same with Cirie, I would say.
Q: How do you feel knowing that what you did may go down as the biggest blunder in Survivor history, and what was it like watching the show up to that point?
A: Oh my God, the craziest thing was after the episode in which Alexis left, after the shoot-‘me-up episode, people would come up to me and say, “See you in the final, all the way, man! I’ve got money riding on you, man!” and I had to keep my mouth shut that I was going to let pretty much everybody down. I’m glad I got to come to New York and the finale and get out of my home state before everybody found out. My phones started ringing with everyone saying, “Oh my God, what did you do? What were you thinking? What’s the matter with you?” But it’s kind of funny because I look at it more like, you could be just another winner of Survivor, or you can go down in history as the blunder of the show. It’s a whole ‘nother thing entirely. You have to laugh or else you’re going to cry.
Q: Do you have any plans for the future?
A: (cheerfully) Not really. As of right now I’m still at Hell, [Michigan] scooping ice cream, being the ice cream man. I’d love to go on Survivor again if they’d call me back. I don’t know if that will happen again. I need some time to get over this whole blowing it thing.