I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Fans vs. Favorites” competitors the day before they left for the Caramoan Islands. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each contestant every weekday until we get through all of them. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for tons of updates.
Name: Brandon Hantz
Hometown: Katy, Texas
Occupation: Chemical Disposal
Previous Finish: Brandon came in 6th place in “Survivor: South Pacific”
Memorable Moment: Brandon was voted out immediately after giving his immunity idol to Albert Destrade.
Note: The “Survivor: Caramoan” pre-game interviews are unlike the pre-game interviews we’ve done in the past. Usually, the interviews take place on location, this time they took place in Los Angeles before the players flew out. At this point, all the “Favorties” know is that they’re flying out in the next few days. They have seen each other, but haven’t seen the new players. They don’t know for sure where they’re going, and they don’t know any of the season’s twists.
Gordon Holmes: Mr. Hantz, what’ve you been up to since we saw you last?
Brandon Hantz: I’ve been up to great stuff. I’ve been taking care of my family. I’ve been chilling with my kids, my little boy. Teaching him how to swim, that’s been fun.
Holmes: How old is he?
Hantz: Two years old. I’m kind of doing it like my dad did it, just throwing him in there and then go get him after a couple of seconds. (Laughs)
Holmes: The second part of that method is very important.
Hantz: (Laughs) I spend time with my wife. We had a little rough spot there after the show. But, it helped us in the end. We’re actually stronger now than we were before. It’s actually excellent. Everything’s going great. Got some money.
Holmes: Was the rough spot because of the show?
Hantz: It was self-inflicted. I let it get to my head this whole TV thing. I said to myself, “I wouldn’t do that.” I hate people that get too big for their britches. And I did it. I got too big for my britches. So, I got some knew britches.
Holmes: Perfectly fitting, tailored, new britches.
Hantz: Keep the (expletive deleted) nice and tight.
Holmes: That might be more information than we needed.
CBS Representative: (Laughs)
Holmes: That’s how these interviews tend to go, in case you were wondering.
Holmes: The last time we saw you was at the “South Pacific” reunion show. And, on the broadcast, you didn’t strike me as someone who would be psyched to come back and play again. And yet, here you are. What happened?
Hantz: I’ve got a new attitude like that song. (Sings ala Patti LaBelle) I’ve got a new attitude.
Holmes: New britches, new attitude.
Hantz: New me, man. I’m happy with myself. I’m going to get better. But, in the process I’m going to enjoy life. I started off as a little tadpole, and then whatever is after a tadpole, now I’m a shark. I don’t know where it goes from there.
Holmes: …does a tadpole become a shark?
Hantz: It just depends.
CBS Representative: It’s all evolution.
Holmes: There ya go.
Hantz: Have you ever heard of Darwin?
Holmes: It’s great to see you having fun.
Hantz: Thank you.
Holmes: Because people would say, “Why is Russell’s nephew on ‘Survivor’?” They wouldn’t say “Brandon,” they’d say “Russell’s nephew.” And when we met in Samoa I thought, here’s this good-natured, almost innocent guy, he doesn’t seem like Russell at all. But then, it seemed like the game got the best of you and you were having a hard time coming to terms with everything.
Hantz: I allowed my past convictions to stop me from playing the game. I don’t know what I was thinking. I play chess all the time. I smash people in chess. It gets violent when I’m on a chess table.
Holmes: You don’t hear that often.
Hantz: No! That’s how competitive I am. Then to come out and play that game and look like a little punk? I’m not a punk. I’m a beast.
Holmes: You’re a shark.
Hantz: I’m a shark.
Holmes: So, in your time in the game you were someone who wasn’t comfortable lying. Does that change?
Hantz: I’m still not a liar. If you and I are walking down the street I’m not going to lie to you. If you ask, “How man, how do these look,” I’m going to say, “These look terrible. I still love ya, but you look terrible.”
Holmes: You think I look terrible?
Hantz: (Laughs) Don’t put me on the spot. I’m just kidding, you look great.
Holmes: Appreciate that. But in a game for a million dollars, does that change things?
Hantz: You play poker?
Holmes: Yes, poorly.
Hantz: I’ll be like, “Guess what, guys? You think I’m bluffing? It’s about to get all crazy up in this (expletive deleted). All in.”
Holmes: Last time you had some issues with Mikayla Wingle...
Hantz: Really? Who brings this up? Did you write these questions?
Holmes: I wrote these questions.
Hantz: What’s up?
Holmes: We’re talking about what went on in your season and how it will affect your gameplay going forward.
Hantz: Well, I’m going to be honest with you from here on out.
Holmes: I appreciate all honesty. What I’m asking is, if you find yourself in another situation with a young lovely…
Hantz: A young lovely? Well, that’s a hard question. If I find myself with a young lovely, then I’m in a room with a young lovely. I don’t understand the question.
Holmes: You felt like Mikayla was flirting with you and that was a reason to target her.
Hantz: I’m pretty sure that’s not how it went.
Holmes: Then how did it go?
Hantz: I’m pretty sure you just saw the edit.
Holmes: I did see the edit. But no matter what happened, she was targeted.
Hantz: This was the deal, Mikayla and I were aligned. The cameraman asked me the question, “Do you think that’s she intimidating because she’s pretty?” and I elaborated. But, people are stupid to the fact that, “This guy is sexist, he’s afraid of beautiful women.” Dude, I see beautiful women all the time. I’m a human being, I have to see pretty women. I have a job, I have a regular life. I’m not scared of a hot woman. My wife happens to be really hot, very young and robust.
Holmes: (Laughs) That’s a wonderful adjective.
Hantz: (Laughs) So, I’m not afraid of a beautiful woman. Actually, I have an idea. Ready to hear it?
Hantz: If a young woman wants to align with me, then I will do so.
Holmes: You’ve got to keep all doors open in this game.
Hantz: All the doors are open! I’m not going to allow my past convictions to interrupt the game. I know who I am. I love Jesus Christ. That doesn’t change. But, I’m a fun guy. I’m funny. I like to joke around. I like to be friends with everybody. And I shouldn’t feel bad for doing those things. And I was making myself feel bad for those things. I’m going to have fun. And I’m going to win a million dollars.
Holmes: It’s the first day in the game, I look across the beach and see Brandon Hantz. What do you think I remember about you?
Hantz: He’s no threat. He’s a crybaby. And, he’s very trustworthy. A girl might be worried like, “Oh my gosh, I’m pretty.” And I’d be, “Oh my gosh, don’t flatter yourself.”
Holmes: With Coach Wade and Ozzy Lusth, you got to see firsthand what it’s like for someone playing the game a second time. Did you learn anything about that from them?
Hantz: They’re smarter. You’re such a smarter person. I hope we have ten new people that we’re playing with…which I’m thinking we might. There’s always a twist. That’s why I’m here.
Holmes: What do you think of the cast members you’ve seen so far?
Hantz: I like them. Everybody starts off happy go lucky. I’m very open-minded. The person you guess you’re going to hate is normally the person you end up being best friends with. I could be best friends with a very pretty girl or a very ugly guy. You never know.
Holmes: Anyone you’re comfortable working with?
Hantz: I’ve played with Dawn and Cochran. So, that’s a comfort zone. But sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone to make things happen. And I’m here to make things happen. It’s not the same Brandon. (Sings) I’ve got a new attitude.
Holmes: Why do you think you were brought back?
Hantz: I think I was brought back, sir…because I made good TV. Whether it was positive or negative, people wanted to watch.
Holmes: Before “South Pacific” people said, “This kid is only around because he’s Russell Hantz’s nephew.” I would have agreed…
Hantz: Until you watched the season! This interview means nothing…you know why? Because I don’t even know what I’m going to do out there.
Holmes: Well, the game’s so fluid, it’s impossible to know. That’s why I try to ask broader questions.
Hantz: You know what I’ve learned about myself? Is that I might be like this now, but in a couple of minutes I might not be like this. You might walk up on me and I might be like, “Dude, get out of my face!”
Holmes: So, I should not step to you?
Hantz: Don’t step to me.
Holmes: I had no intention of doing that.
Hantz: It’s about to happen!
Holmes: I want to go on record…and we’re recording this…I have no intention of stepping to you.
Holmes: There’s a tattoo that says, “Loco.” I appreciate that that’s a guy you don’t want to step to. I don’t think that’s a tattoo you’d get all willy nilly.
Hantz: (Laughs) Oh my God, I love it.
Holmes: You’ve been a featured player on a nationally televised reality show. What’s the reaction you get from people on the street?
Hantz: I’ve had a lot of reactions. Most of them are little punks who don’t want to tell me their true feelings so they say, “Hey, it’s really nice to meet you. I was your fan.” Blah blah blah. And I’m like, “No dude, you were probably screaming at me the whole time I was out there.” I don’t buy it. I’m very polite and I’m like, “Yes maam, thank you very much.” But I don’t take that stuff to heart.
Holmes: Can’t some of these people mean what they’re saying?
Hantz: Yes, people I know. Have you ever had anyone give you an apology that you didn’t think was an honest apology?
Hantz: You could see that same thing in someone’s face when they say, “I was your biggest fan.” They won’t even look you in the eye. They want to smack me in the face.
Hantz: Don’t call me your favorite, smack me in my face and see if this sweet little old guy will turn the other cheek.
Holmes: Do a lot of people try to smack you in the face?
Hantz: Metaphorically, yes.
Holmes: Ah…well done.
Holmes: It’s blowing my mind how much it seems like you’ve changed from when we met before “South Pacific.” It seems like you’ve been though a lot.
Holmes: I guess what I’m getting at here is, you didn’t seem happy during the reunion and I hope you’re happy now.
Hantz: I appreciate that. It’s building from here. I had to tear down that whole house that was built and rebuild it. My Bible says, David’s son Solomon was talking about how wise people get their wisdom from pain. A lot of wisdom comes from suffering.
Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites,” Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.