“Survivor” Castaway Dan: “It Was Upsetting, Obviously I Trusted the Wrong Person Out There”


“Survivor: David vs. Goliath” (CBS)

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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: David vs. Goliath”

Gordon Holmes: What the hell is an idol nullifier?!
Dan Rengering: I had that same question a few months ago. (Laughs) It’s the Goliath killer. Can we call it that?
Holmes: I tried to put myself in your filthy Fijian shoes when that thing popped up. What can you even do?
Rengering: That was exactly what I thought. Nobody expected it, nobody saw it coming, especially me. Talk about being blindsided.

Holmes: OK, they showed us Kara spilling the beans about your idol to Alec and Alison. She was the only person you told about it, correct?
Rengering: Yeah, exactly. She’s the only person I told.
Holmes: And she was your number one out there? That had to hurt.
Rengering: I don’t look at her any differently. It’s a game, we’re all out there to win a million dollars. She’s a great person, I had a great time with her out there. She’s the person I trusted the most. And I’m the kind of person who likes to talk ideas out and she’s the person I did that with. It was upsetting, obviously I trusted the wrong person out there. But, there’s nothing I can be mad about, we’re all out there to win a million dollars.

Holmes: I’m assuming that stealing Alison’s vote was to make you think that they were voting for her. What was going through your mind as you were trying to figure out what to do with the idol?
Rengering: We talked about staying Goliath strong. We had the numbers, we wanted to dwindle the Davids’ numbers down for as long as we could. That’s what we talked about, even on Goliath beach. So in my mind, I was wondering if they were trying to take out Alison or pull a fast one and take me out. Christian had come to me earlier and said, ‘It’s you, man. It’s going to be you.” So in my mind, I was trusting Christian, but I didn’t know about the idol nullifier. My big thing was taking care of my people and my people were the Goliaths. It was a tough decision, that’s why you see my lean down and ask Kara who to play it for, and she said, “Play it for you.”

Holmes: Angelina wasn’t your favorite person out there, yet you did play an idol for her. There was some talk that you wasted an idol, but my take was that if things had gone the way they did and you didn’t play an idol for her, that she’d become your #1 enemy. Was that what you were thinking?
Rengering: Exactly. My first thought was I told her I would do it. If I tell someone I’m going to do something for them, I always try my best to do it. So, that was the first thing I struggled with. Then I struggled with if I want to get rid of this idol? Do I want to play it, do I want to save it? In my mind, it ties her to me forever. She’s going to owe me for the rest of the game. Whether or not she does it, that’s up to her. It proves to the alliance that I’m there for them.
Holmes: How important is it to you that you do what you say you’re going to do? I’ve been out for pre-game interviews in the past and 99% of the time, everyone says they’re prepared to lie their brains out.
Rengering: If you point blank tell somebody to their face that you’re going to do something, you should do it. If you skirt that line and say, “I’ll do my best,” or “I’ll try,” that’s different. That’s me. That’s how I try to live my life and I wanted to be me out there. I want to be a good example for my kids. They’ve watched it all. And they’re going to watch it when they get older, I’m sure, so I don’t want them to see me as a different person than I am in real life.

Holmes: Once you put labels like “David” and “Goliath” on a tribe, you’re setting one tribe up as an underdog, which is a story that plays well at final Tribal. Is that something you were thinking about during the game?
Rengering: Oh yeah. I thought if a David made it to the final three, they’re going to win. Everybody likes the underdog story. That’s why we preached Goliath strong.
Holmes: Mike kinda seems like a David in Goliath’s clothing. What were your thoughts on his game? He seems to be calling some of the shots.
Rengering: When you get to know Mike, you realize that he’s definitely a Goliath. He doesn’t look like one, but he’s a powerhouse in everything he does. Super cool guy, strategic, smart, and he knew how to talk to people. And being a David in Goliath’s clothing helped him fit in with both sides.

Holmes: They never showed the Brochachos discussing strategy. Was that an alliance or something you were doing for fun?
Rengering: That was having fun. I talked a little bit of strategy with Christian, I didn’t go over the top. I didn’t want to talk too much strategy when I didn’t have to. At Tiva, we just had a good time. We did pull-ups, we hung out, we made jokes.
Holmes: You’re trying to convince me that doing pull-ups is a good time?
Rengering: When you’re out there on the island, you’ve got to do whatever you’ve got to do to have fun. (Laughs)
Holmes: Gabby was frustrated because you didn’t talk strategy with her. Was that intentional?
Rengering: Not at all, even with the Brochachos we didn’t talk strategy. I didn’t want to stress anybody out or overcomplicate things. At Tiva, we were winning, so why freak anybody out? It definitely wasn’t intentional.
Holmes: Was she not doing enough pull-ups.
Rengering: She didn’t do any pull-ups. She just watched us and laughed. It was pretty fun.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word associatin’. Let’s start with Davie.
Rengering: Funny.
Holmes: Johnny Slamtown?
Rengering: Awesome.
Holmes: Natalie?
Rengering: Motherly. My first interaction with Natalie, I’m a big mama’s boy, I’ll be the first to admit it. I walked up and said, “Are you a mom?” She just gave me that motherly vibe. She said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Can I hug you? Because I miss my mom so much.”
Holmes: (Laughs)
Rengering: (Laughs) And I low-key called her “Mom” the rest of the time.
Holmes: Elizabeth?
Rengering: Sassy.
Holmes: Jeremy?
Rengering: Dirty player.
Holmes: Angelina?
Rengering: Smart.
Holmes: Gabby?
Rengering: Very intuitive.
Holmes: Mike?
Rengering: Funny.
Holmes: Natalia?
Rengering: Intense.
Holmes: Alison?
Rengering: Surprising.
Holmes: Carl?
Rengering: Fatherly. He’s super cool.
Holmes: Nick?
Rengering: Slick.
Holmes: Alec?
Rengering: Surfer bro.
Holmes: Christian?
Rengering: Super cool. He’s one of the coolest guys I know.
Holmes: Kara?
Rengering: Surprising as well.

Holmes: If I’m remembering your story correctly, you used to have weight concerns, correct?
Rengering: Yeah, I used to weigh 330-340. I was a big ol’ boy.
Holmes: So, when Jeff Probst tosses you a buff and tells you you’re a Goliath, that has to be pretty nice.
Rengering: It was, but it was shocking. I thought, “How was I over here?” I’m a cop, I used to be a fat kid. I’m successful in my career, but I’m not stupid successful. I do well. So, it was mind-boggling to me. That was something I struggled with for a long time out there. We had doctors, we had professional wrestlers, Natalie is a CEO of a newspaper thing. I had all kinds of successful people on my tribe.

Holmes: Alright, you’re invited back to the show. Day one…you’re out by the water well…you spot an idol. Who do you tell about it?
Rengering: Not a soul!
Holmes: Atta boy!
Rengering: Although, the first one I found, we were all looking together. There was no hiding that rock. They would’ve noticed.
Holmes: You’re learning, that shows progress.
Rengering: Hey, we all have to learn from our mistakes.

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