‘Survivor’ Champion Wendell – “Dom Thought He Was Going to Beat Me 8-2”

“Survivor: Ghost Island” (CBS)

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Gordon Holmes: How are you doing?
Wendell Holland: I’m doing pretty well!
Holmes: I’d imagine you’re doing better than that.
Holland: I’m better than the last time we talked.
Holmes: You were doing pretty good back then.
Holland: I was feeling alright, but now I’ve secured the win so things are a lot better.

Holmes: I’m sitting here in my Philadelphia office and you’ve got me thinking…Eagles…Villanova…Wendell… is this good news for the Phillies?
Holland: It’s good news for the Phillies. I’ve got love for the Sixers. The last series wasn’t our series, but we’re looking a lot better. Philadelphia is the city of champions right now, Gordon.

Holmes: The most important question coming out of last night; what do you think of “TKO.”
Holland: (Laughs) I was just in shock up there. I was laughing at the things that Kevin Hart was saying. I think that show is going to be pretty hilarious. Dom and I said to each other, “That’d be hilarious if we were on that show.”
Holmes: Agreed.

Holmes: When the three of you were sitting there before the final Tribal, did the possibility of a tie ever come up?
Holland: No, Dom was very confident in his game. Dom thought he was going to beat me 8-2. And, I thought that it’d be a closer game and that Laurel would get some votes, at least a vote. We never thought it would be a tie, ever. I think the numbers were a little closer than 8-2 going in and I think I was able to push a couple of people over the edge at the end. So, we split it 50/50 which is just crazy.
Holmes: If votes were switched, what do you attribute that to? Because the story seemed to be that Dom may have been too aggressive with some of his moves. Do you think that turned the tide?
Holland: I think so. Domenick had been playing a very aggressive game which can win “Survivor” in many seasons depending on the jury. But, not our season. Our season wasn’t one of those seasons. There were a lot of strong players that respect that style of gameplay, but there were a lot of players who respected the personal game and the relationships, the things that I did. I was a fierce competitor in challenges, but I was strategic and I was very social. And, I relied a lot on the friendships I had made out there. You have to know the jury and six out of eleven people wanted to reward someone with a strong social game in our season. Not saying that happens every season. And Dom had a strong social game, but I was able to connect with certain people. I might have seemed a little more genuine.

Holmes: What percentage would you have put on Laurel’s vote being for you?
Holland: Oh…100%. It was really like…99%. I felt it in me.

Holmes: I’ve been thinking about that final four fire challenge a lot, because it seems like you’re giving a challenge competitor a chance to look like a bad ass in front of the jury. So, does it make sense for Dom to take you along and say, “I’m not afraid of Wendell.” Or, the mega move is him challenging you himself. It’s a lot to think about.
Holland: Wow…it’s very easy to say what I’d do if I was in his shoes now. Would I take off the immunity necklace and give it to Ang and battled it out? It’s easy to say that now. But I would never do that. That would be on “Ghost Island 2.” As “Survivor” evolves and the fire challenge stays, there will be an evolution of strategy. This is the second year with that challenge. We learned about it right when we got to Fiji, so it wasn’t sprung on us during the game. You run scenarios in your head. But, at the end of the day you have a family…and what if I eliminated him in the fire making challenge? That’d be the dumbest mistake for him ever. You’ve got to get to the end. And playing his game, that’s a winner’s game. I got very lucky and I was able to edge him out. If I was in his shoes I would have taught Laurel or Angela how to make fire all day and hope for the best. But, it did make me look a lot better in front of the jury.
Holmes: You were stone cold. Ice in your veins.
Holland: I was kind of sad because I liked Ang a lot and I felt like it was me being set up to knock it out of the park. My face was kind of sad because Ang wasn’t going to make fire, so it kind of hurt.

Holmes: Laurel’s story about wanting to go to the end with you and Dom and there being a split vote and Laurel picking up the rest…I don’t buy it. Going to the end with you two was a ticket to third place. How concerned were you with her making moves on you at the end?
Holland: Laurel and I had a very true bond out there. It started pretty early after the first swap when she came to Naviti. Yes, they blindsided us with the Morgan vote, but after that we picked up the pieces. And from then, Laurel, myself, and Dom were working very closely. And there’s a time and a place where you should cut people, to increase your odds of winning. But, deciding when to cut us? That would make her trip to the end tremendously more difficult. If she cut us at seven, eight, nine…her road to the end would be so hard. The Navitis would gun for her every single elimination. She’s a physical threat and a social threat. She’s great at everything. So, her dilemma was; do I make my road to the end difficult, almost impossible and cut Wendell and Dom? Or, do I make my road to the end easier and have a much more difficult final Tribal Council? That’s the dilemma! Dom rubbed some people the wrong way, some people didn’t like my game. I thought she could have picked up some votes, maybe not three or four or five votes.

Holmes: Alright word association time. Let’s start with Chris.
Holland: Well intentioned.
Holmes: Michael?
Holland: Fierce.
Holmes: Angela?
Holland: A warrior.
Holmes: Morgan?
Holland: Morgan could have won the game.
Holmes: James?
Holland: (Laughs) I want to say, “a robot,” but that’s my buddy. He’s a great friend.
Holmes: Domenick?
Holland: A scary competitor.
Holmes: Jenna?
Holland: The love of Sebastian’s life.
Holmes: Donathan?
Holland: Sweetheart.
Holmes: Sebastian?
Holland: One of the nicest people I know.
Holmes: Libby?
Holland: I only have nice things to say! We had too nice of a cast.
Holmes: That’s true.
Holland: We’re so close now. Libby is a tough competitor, she’s a tough cookie.
Holmes: Desiree?
Holland: She’s super cool.
Holmes: Was Des pro-Kanye or pro-Chance the Rapper?
Holland: (Laughs) Kanye. You can’t be pro-Kanye anymore!
Holmes: Kellyn?
Holland: Super woman.
Holmes: Chelsea?
Holland: She’s another scary competitor despite the edit.
Holmes: Bradley?
Holland: He’s a silent assassin.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Laurel.
Holmes: That’s my sister.

Holmes: Were you ever looking to get rid of Dom or were you locked in till the end?
Holland: I was prepared to take him to the end. If there was a glaring opportunity to take him out around five or six…without emerging as the one and only threat…I might have shot that shot. But I was prepared to work with him and Laurel till the end.

Holmes: You were my pick to win. You won challenges, you built furniture, you made moves, but you are responsible for the most disappointing thing this season; we never saw you make the cornhole set that you promised in pregame.
Holland: (Laughs) Oh man! You know what, Gordon? That’s my bad. I did build some game out there, but they weren’t shown.

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

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