‘Survivor’ Castaway Michael – ‘I Can Tell Who the Good Guys Are and Who the Bad Guys Are’

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

QUICK NOTE: The good folks at XFINITY sent me deep into the Fijian wilderness to bring you an exclusive look at “Survivor: Ghost Island.” While I was there I conducted interviews with “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and the entire cast. I also captured exclusive photos and other behind-the-scenes tidbits. So, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.

Name: Michael Yerger
Age: 18
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
Current residence: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Real Estate Agent

Gordon Holmes: I’m an old, bitter man.
Michael Yerger: (Laughs)
Holmes: And I’m trying to remember what I was like when I was eighteen. I feel like someone with more world experience could really pick me apart. Is this something you’re prepared for?
Yerger: Yeah, I definitely don’t have the world experience that others have. But, I do have an adequate amount for someone my age. I think my interpersonal skills and things like that, living on my own for a year, all of my friends are adults, I only deal with professionals. I’ve been out of that college/high school scene for a while.

Holmes: You deal with a wide variety of people in real estate. That should help.
Yerger: Totally. In LA you deal with all sorts of people, especially in leasing. Moving there and getting into sales is pretty damn hard, especially at my age. I’ve gotten into leasing and have done really well for myself. I have to deal with all sorts of nationalities, all sorts of attitudes, and egos, and whatnot. Half of it is smiling and nodding. Never disappointing anybody. That’s what my gameplay is going to be like. As much as I may want to call somebody out, that patience and self control will help me out.

Holmes: I’d imagine it’s pretty important to know yourself heading into this.
Yerger: Sure.
Holmes: Are you an alpha guy? Can you take orders? Where do you fall on the spectrum?
Yerger: I feel like I have good leadership qualities, but I’m not going to be the guy that’s going to be running out of the gate telling people what to do. That’s not me. And it’s not a good idea to be a leader on “Survivor.” You’ll get heat no matter what. Whether you’re a good one or a bad one. But I do feel like I take direction well.

Holmes: Why do you think you were cast?
Yerger: Maybe I’m a typical character to have on the show? I’m here to play a good game, I’m a huge fan. I’ve watched the show for over ten years.

Holmes: It says in your bio that you admire your father (a wise man) and your uncle (a rich man). What does that mean?
Yerger: Well…
Holmes: I mean, I know what “rich” and “wise” mean.
Yerger: (Laughs) Sure. My father is rich and wise. He’s really taught me things my entire life. I give a lot of credit to both of my parents for how I am because most of my friends aren’t like that. I really do think it’s a credit to parenting. I think part of wisdom has to do with what you value more. I’m not saying that my uncle isn’t wise, because he’s a brilliant man. To be wealthy you’ve got to be wise. But, I think my father values things more than wealth. He’s always taught me that money is the root of all evil. But, it can be a great thing if you use it wisely. My uncle leads a more extravagant lifestyle and that’s what I’m geared toward.

Holmes: So, money is the root of all evil, and you’re about to play a cutthroat game for a million dollars. Have you set any moral boundaries for yourself?
Yerger: I’ve set very realistic boundaries. I’m here to play the game. Everybody should know this by now. If you’re not here to lie, cheat, and steal, then get out of here. I think there are ways to do it tastefully. We’ve all seen people who’ve ventured too far. So, I think I have a realistic mindset going in.
Holmes: You seem very even tempered for an eighteen-year-old.
Yerger: Thank you.
Holmes: That will probably serve you well.
Yerger: I hope so.

Holmes: Any issues flirting to get ahead?
Yerger: Nope. They made it easy for me. There are a bunch of beautiful women here, the blonde especially. We’ve been making some eyes.
Holmes: Do you have a partner back home who’s going to be upset if they see you flirting?
Yerger: I’m not tied down, per se. I work a lot, so I haven’t had time to pursue anybody.

Holmes: Are you going to lie about any parts of your background?
Yerger: I’m going to be 23.
Holmes: You’re 23, huh? What year were you born? (NOTE: This interview took place in 2017.)
Yerger: 1993.
Holmes: Who was president?
Yerger: (Laughs) I don’t know.
Holmes: Clinton.
Yerger: Thanks.
Holmes: Most babies are up on their politics when they’re born.

Holmes: What’s the tattoo?
Yerger: It says “On my Honor.” I’m an Eagle scout. I did Boy Scouts for eight years.
Holmes: You didn’t go for the whole, “Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind…”
Yerger: (Laughs) No.
Holmes: Just a full sleeve of positive adjectives.
Yerger: I’m not the tattoo kind of guy, I just like having the important things. This is my only one.

Holmes: What do you think people’s first impression of you is. Yikes, that was a mouthful.
Yerger: (Laughs) No, you got it. Maybe dumb jock? Pretty boy? I get that, but I don’t think I’m either of those things.
Holmes: Mmm…I think you’re a pretty boy.
Yerger: (Laughs) Yeah, but it has that whole…rico suave thing.
Holmes: More of a pretty gentleman.
Yerger: Yeah, I’ll take that. But watching people here, I can tell who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Who’s letting women eat first. Who are the sassy, bratty women.

Holmes: You guys are totally in the dark as far as twists and themes. What do you think is going on here?
Yerger: That’s all I’ve been thinking about. I think I’ve been able to weave some out. I thought it’d be “Millennials vs. Gen-X” round two. And bring back some returning players like Jay and Jessica, because they were on separate tribes and were booted in not-so-wonderful ways. They were great players. But, we’ve got 20 people here, so I don’t think they’re going to bring back anybody. And, it’s a young cast. There’s only three noticeably older people. So maybe white collar/blue collar/no collar part two.

Holmes: Alright, I’m going to give you two scenarios, you tell me which one you would rather do. Saying neither or both is not an option.
Yerger: Got it.
Holmes: Would you rather align with a Hillary supporter or a Trump supporter?
Yerger: I’m not a political guy, but in my small-minded opinions, I’d have to go with Trump unfortunately.
Holmes: Steal a vote or eliminate a juror?
Yerger: Steal a vote. Who knows if I’ll make it to the end.
Holmes: Endurance challenge or word puzzle?
Yerger: Endurance challenge.
Holmes: Align with a racist or a sexist?
Yerger: Neither, obviously. I don’t respect either person. Probably a sexist.
Holmes: Voted out first or before final Tribal?
Yerger: Before final Tribal.
Holmes: Align with an adulterer or a tax cheat?
Yerger: Tax cheat.
Holmes: Lose the family challenge or win and have to decide who comes with?
Yerger: Lose the challenge. That always seems to hurt somebody more than it helps them. I love my mom, but I’ll get to see her soon after.
Holmes: Get caught stealing food or idol hunting?
Yerger: Stealing food. When you steal food, everybody hates you, and it’d be a reason to keep me around. Idol searching is a bigger target in my opinion. If they think you have an idol, they’ll try to flush it.
Holmes: Align with a superfan or someone who doesn’t watch the show?
Yerger: Someone who doesn’t watch the show. Ignorance is not bliss in that case. Knowing the ins and outs is really valuable in this game.
Holmes: A dance challenge or a karaoke challenge?
Yerger: Dance challenge. I’m not good at either, but I’d take dancing over singing.

Holmes: Do you watch wrestling?
Yerger: I watch MMA.
Holmes: WWE?
Yerger: Some of it.
Holmes: There a guy named Randy Orton, you look like him when he was young.
Yerger: My roommate will know who he is. All he watches is boxing/wrestling.
Holmes: You’re going to go 39 days, you’re going to win, then you’re going to say, “Oh wait, who is that wrestler Gordon thinks I look like?”
Yerger: (Laughs) It’ll be the first thing I think of.

NOTE: The cast members do not know each other’s names at this point. I showed Michael a picture of each of his competitors and asked him to give me his first impressions.

LIBBY
Yerger: That’s blondie. She’s gorgeous. Great chemistry so far. Sharing a lot of smiles and whatnot. But then again, she’s kind of smiling at every guy. I think that’s fine. She’s doing a great job.

ANGELA
Yerger: She’s the oldest woman in the group. And she might have the vibe that she’ll be the tribe mom. She seems like a sweet lady.

CHELSEA
Yerger: She’s kind of kept to herself. She seems kind of…like she’s got a little spice to her. She seems very calm. She’s not looking around a whole lot. We’ll see how the bomb explodes.

JENNA
Yerger: She seems dumb, to be honest. Maybe a little clumsy. But a nice girl.

GONZALEZ
Yerger: I really don’t like her. She gorgeous, I thought she’d be someone I’m interested in, but I’ve just seen her be a little bit bitchy and standoffish. Maybe she’s not like that at all.

STEPHANIE
Yerger: She’s very likable. I’ve seen her share smile with just about everybody out here. Bubbly personality.

MORGAN
Yerger: I think she’s very transparent. You can see what she’s thinking on her face. I don’t know if that’s someone I want to work with. She’s probably one of the smartest girls out here.

LAUREL
Yerger: I want to work with her! I haven’t interacted with her a lot, but it’s been very good. She’s very intelligent, very observant.

KELLYN
Yerger: She seems friendly, very innocent.

DESIREE
Yerger: Not a huge fan so far. She seems like she wants nothing to do with me. She’s got attitude.

BRADLEY
Yerger: Seems like a nice guy. Maybe it’s the glasses, but he seems intelligent.

BRENDAN
Yerger: A fit guy. Looks like a personal trainer. I’ve noticed he’s married. He’s been courteous and respectful to everybody.

CHRIS
Yerger: Another athletic guy. He might be a strong competitor in challenges. But, he does come off like he’s a little dumb and ignorant.

SEBASTIAN
Yerger: Surfer, crazy island dude! He looks like he’s been playing this game for six months already.
Holmes: That’s the twist. He’s been here for years.
Yerger: Exactly!

WENDELL
Yerger: Seems like a nice guy. He’s also from LA. I’ve noticed he wears an LA Kings hat. He’s kept to himself.

JACOB
Yerger: He’s funny. He’s a little bit weird. He’s had his headphones on. He seems a bit dorky by likable.

JAMES
Yerger: He seems very arrogant. He wears it on his face and on his body. His chest is always out, kind of rico suave style.

DONATHAN
Yerger: Nice guy. Very sweet and likable.

DOMENICK
Yerger: He was always very plain on his face, but yesterday he showed some personality. He seems like a nice guy.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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