‘Survivor’ Castaway Zane Knight: ‘I Thought I Had it Locked’


Zane Knight and Jeff Probst (CBS)

XFinityTV is blowing up their coverage of “Survivor: Philippines.” Starting next Tuesday, I’ll be squaring off against a “Survivor: One World” favorite in this season’s Power Rankings challenge. Every Wednesday briefly after the show we’ll have a full episode recap and every Thursday we’ll have an interview with the latest eliminated player. Also, starting October 1st, we’re bringing back the “Survivor” Question of the Week where Jeff Probst and I tackle a wide variety of “Survivor” topics. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for all the updates!

There might not be a more obvious “Survivor”  case of “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” than Zane Knight. The 28-year-old tire treader was all over the map last night making alliances, planning back-stabbings, and wreaking havoc when all he really needed to do was be himself.

I talked to Zane the morning after his elimination and found out about the crazy weather, the secret alliances, and how close he came to getting Russell Swan out of the game…

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Gordon Holmes: What happened? I thought I wasn’t going to get to talk to you until December after the finale.
Zane Knight: I was looking forward to talking to you in December! (Laughs) After they wrote my check. You know, you only get one way to play this game and I feel like I played it the best I could. I was a little premature, maybe if I’d put a little more forethought into Russ’s way with the court there. I said from day one,  “No celebrities,” so I went after the celebrity. I take pride in what I did.
Holmes: I feel like you crammed 39 days of “Survivor” into one episode.
Knight: (Laughs) I’ve been watching “Survivor” for a while now. I tried to take key components from the best players. Just genuinely awesome TV. You know, in life you’re not promised tomorrow, so why would you think you were promised tomorrow on “Survivor” island? I tried to break it in as hard as I could.

Holmes: You said, “Vote for me” to the Matsing Tribe. Was that your Brandon Hantz moment where you were testing everyone’s loyalty?
Knight: Exactly, you build this rapport with people, and I was going to make them work for me. It’s a character thing. Russ’s been in this game before. He knows how to play with people’s emotions. And like he said, “You don’t know how something you say is going to affect any other person.” So who was to know that he’d play ‘em like that. And I can’t put it all on him, I was too cocky. I thought I had it locked. The rest of the day I spent gathering fire wood until we went to get rid of Russ.

Holmes: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Knight: The only thing is I would’ve been quiet.
Holmes: (Laughs) Well played.

Holmes: They didn’t touch on this too much, but the weather was insane during those first three days. Tons of rain, I remember your hands were all pruned-up and water-logged.
Knight: Aww man, just sheets of rain pelting you. You’re sitting there trying to build a shelter or pick up firewood, and like you said, your hands are so water-logged you can’t hold onto a piece of wood. The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.
Holmes: You looked miserable when we were there.
Knight: The weather always comes with “Survivor.” You’re going to have heat, or cold, or rain. So, it’s expected. It adds to the game.

Holmes: What’re the tribe dynamics right now at Matsing? Did you know Malcolm and Denise were partnering up?
Knight: No idea at all. Malcolm, you build a camaraderie with people and you think you’ve got them locked. At the end of the day, he was playing his own game. I never saw Malcolm sneaking in like he did. Like I said, I was too cocky. I gathered wood till it was time to send Russ home.
Holmes: You were convinced that Russell was going home?
Knight: I was convinced! It was locked. That’s my game. (Laughs) It was as a big a surprise to me as anybody.
Holmes: Are Roxanne and Angie a unit?
Knight: Not that I saw, but that’s the way the game works. At one moment you’re best friends, the next you hate their guts. You have to watch the season to see how they vote.
Holmes: OK, if you insist, I’ll watch the season.
Knight: (Laughs)
Holmes: But now that they’ve voted you out, why bother?
Knight: You know what, a lot of America felt the same way. And I don’t think that’s me having a big head.
Holmes: Well, I think a lot of people pre-judge you based on your appearance. But I certainly enjoyed you. I was genuinely disappointed to see you go.
Knight: Hopefully if I made my mark and Jeff appreciated me and y’all appreciated me, you might get to see me again.

Holmes: I liked seeing you and Angie getting along. It’s one of those things on the show where two people from different walks of life, once you strip them of their comforts, they can get to know each other and enjoy each other.
Knight: I can pretty much get along with anybody. Angie reminded me a lot of my sister. She seemed kind of…at home for me. She’s pretty easy to get along with.

Holmes: Alright, first word association of the year. Let’s start with Angie…
Knight: Free.
Holmes: Malcolm?
Knight: Funny.
Holmes: Denise?
Knight: Hard to get along with.
Holmes: Roxanne?
Knight: Casual.
Holmes: And Russell?
Knight: Hardcore.

Holmes: Alright, jumping back into that. You said Denise was hard to get along with, when it seemed like she was making strides to get to know you better. What am I missing?
Knight: She’s one of those people that you don’t ever know. In the back of your mind you’re always thinking, “Maybe.”  It’s not that you can’t trust her, you just can’t assess her.

Holmes: A lot of people leave “Survivor” changed people. Has your time out there affected your outlook on life?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I am proud to be an American. It changed my whole philosophy. It changes the way I sweep the floor at work, the way I shop for groceries, the way I cut my grass. There is no aspect of my life that wasn’t impacted. I don’t care if you come of 1st or 26th, if you can say anything bad about this game, you didn’t play it right.

Holmes: When you were out there, you mentioned that your wife is a fantastic cook. When you got home did she have something special waiting for you?
Knight: Oh my goodness, I come home and the first thing I had was meatloaf. Good old southern cooking. I had an awesome meal waiting for me. I couldn’t get it all in me there was so much there.
Holmes: What?! I love meatloaf and my girlfriend never cooks it.
Knight: You need to come on down here, bro.
Holmes: Deal.

Any Questions? Ask me on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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