‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Krista Klumpp

Imagine you’re former Auburn head cheerleader Krista Klumpp. You’re standing on a sunny Nicaraguan beach, excited to begin the game of “Survivor,” when all of the sudden a helicopter lands and legendary villain Russell Hantz steps out. What do you do?

A.)    Team up with the “Survivor” Hall of Famer and hope that he can work his magic a third time?
B.)    Go against Hantz knowing that his less-than-sterling reputation might rub off on you?

We know how this scenario played out in real life. Hantz was gone after four episodes and Krista was sent home shortly afterward.

I spoke with Krista the morning after she was eliminated from “Survivor: Redemption Island” to find out what her thought process was in teaming up with Hantz, if she ever had a chance to break into the Zapatera Six alliance, and how the Redemption Island twist has changed the game.

Gordon Holmes: It’s pretty safe to assume that anyone who partners with Russell is going to have a target on their back. Did you think that was your best bet or was there ever an opportunity for you to join the Zapatera Six?
Krista Klumpp:
When the game first started, everyone was in shock that Russell was even there. I thought Russell was going to look at me and think Natalie (White) the entire time. And you know how Russell is, if you’re not useful to him he’s going to get you out. So, I’m freaking out about Russell going against me and everyone being OK with it. So, when he came to me and thought I was an asset, it changed my whole view. I thought, “If this guy is ready to go with me, I’m going to jump on it.” But it seemed like once Russell got on board with me and Stephanie that everybody freaked out.
Gordon: People tend to think that Russell’s alliances are just Russell calling the shots and everyone else falling into line. Is that accurate or did you play a specific role within the alliance?
Krista: Aligning with Russell and Stephanie, who are such strong personalities, I knew I had to step back from that. So, I’m not as big on the drama, I was trying to get them to calm down. I was like their mediator. I’d say, “You guys cannot go into there and talk to them like this.” Or,  “You can’t talk to them like that because they’re scared of both of you.” So, my strategic play, I was having to keep them from scaring (the other members of Zapatera) off. And as you can see, they were completely scared of Russell. They threw the challenge to kick him off because they couldn’t handle it.

Gordon: I was a little shocked when you were voted out over Stephanie as she seems to be more difficult to get along with. Why did they gun for you first?
I think they thought Stephanie was stronger in the challenges. She’d step up to be the caller or the leader. I tried to talk to them, I tried to have conversations about how the game was going. But they wouldn’t talk to me about the game. They weren’t interested in keeping the strongest players. And Steve was going down fast. I don’t care what he says, but he was the weakest one in terms of health. So that was my strategy to try to keep myself in the game.
Gordon: I’ve heard that a lot about Steve’s health, but we’re not seeing it. Is he sick or is he not dealing well with the lack of food?
Krista: Steve is a big guy. I think he prepared to come out and use his strength, but when you don’t have food, energy, or sleep it’s tough. The challenge that I sat out of, he wanted to sit out, but I refused to let that happen because I wanted the tribe to see how weak he was. And he was very weak in that challenge. But they weren’t going with the strongest players in challenge, they were going with their comfort.

Gordon: David approached Stephanie with the idea of gunning for Sarita last night. Was David willing to work with you before you were voted out?
David started to see it slowly after Russell was voted off. And I think David was starting to regret it. He realized there wasn’t much he could do for me because he was the only one coming along that way. I guess it just really hit him after the challenge last night. They need to keep the numbers because Rob is running it over there.

Gordon: I’m a big believer in giving credit where credit is due, so is it OK if I use the term Brady Bunch to refer to the Zapatera Six alliance?
(Laughs) Yes, you can! I’ll allow you to do that. And that’s really what it was like, when we came back from Russell being voted out they were happy as can be. And talking to them was like talking to the wall here.

Gordon: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with…David.
Oh God…all over the place.
Gordon: Steve?
Krista: Boring.
Gordon: Matt?
Krista: Refreshing.
Gordon: Sarita?
Krista: Germaphobe. (Laughs)
Gordon: Ralph?
Krista: Ugh…one-word answers…
Gordon: There are no wrong answers.
Krista: Let’s come back to him.
Gordon: OK, Mike?
Krista: Oh gosh…
Gordon: This is like torture, I feel terrible.
Krista: I know! He’s boring, egotistic, all those.
Gordon: Stephanie?
Krista: Strong.
Gordon: Back to our buddy Ralph.
Krista: He is…I don’t want to be mean…
Gordon: Feel free to be mean, just watch your language.
Krista: (Laughs) He’s just…there.
Gordon: OK, Ralph’s rooster call?
Krista: Embarrassing. (Laughs)

Gordon: When you hopped on a plane to go to Nicaragua, you assumed that if you were voted out you’d go home. Now, with Redemption Island, that isn’t the case anymore. How did that change the experience of being voted out in comparison to how you thought it would be?
It changes how you think, I was thinking, “What can I do to get myself back in the game?” I started to work on that before I was voted out. And once you get to Redemption Island it was such a relief because I couldn’t stand being around the people on my tribe aside from Stephanie. So, going to Redemption Island was kind of a therapy. (Laughs) You have a chance to regroup, refocus yourself, and try to get back in. I liked it, I felt like I had a second chance when before when you were gone you were gone.

Gordon: Krista, thank you so much for your time, and War Eagle.
War Eagle!

Any questions? Any comments? Our commenting system is down for the time being, but feel free to drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes or chat with fellow “Survivor” fans at the “Survivor” Hall of Fame Facebook page.

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