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When Kelly Wiglesworth first played “Survivor” fifteen years ago “alliance” was a dirty word, hidden immunity idols didn’t exist, and Spencer was in elementary school.
Things have definitely changed.
I spoke with the original Survivor the morning after her second chance was cut short and asked her about her friendship with Joe, Stephen’s advantage, and Jeff Varner’s infamous conference call…
Gordon Holmes: A popular theme this season is old school vs. new school. Did you enjoy the new-school aspects of the game or were they a little too hectic.
Kelly Wiglesworth: A little bit of both. (Laughs) I felt there were some fun changes in the game. There were some fun challenges. But right out of the gate, instead of getting the necessities squared away, getting shelter, getting fire. It was like, “Nah, let’s not worry about that. Let’s run off into the woods and plot about who we’re going to vote out and get the alliances going.” Within seconds of hitting the beach. That was startling.
Holmes: When you and I talked during the pre-game, I asked if you had any pre-game alliances. You said you didn’t, but Jeff Varner spilled the beans about a conference call you were a part of.
Wiglesworth: I didn’t take it seriously. People were reaching out to me trying to make contact. I was very vague. I’d say, “Let’s see what happens when we get out there.” I didn’t want to make any real pre-game alliances. I didn’t really know anybody. Jeff was somebody that I sort of knew. I’d met him a few times at reunions and charity events.
Holmes: We saw your relationship with Joe for the first time last night. How long had you two been close?
Wiglesworth: We had just met at the merge. We happened to click. We’re similar people with similar interests. We just got along well and had a mutual respect for each other. I guess other people perceived us as sort of a power couple. I heard that term a few times. It even got to the point where we’d have to say, “OK, don’t talk to me today.” Other people were close too. Joe and I were seen as threats in the game, people were very bothered by that.
Holmes: When the vote went down last night, did you have a good idea of who flipped?
Wiglesworth: I figured who it was. I wasn’t surprised. Jeremy’s vote was a surprise, that was hurtful. I was shocked by him. I wasn’t surprised by Spencer or Fishbach or any of the girls. It was a blindside for me. That’s all the rage, the blindside. Everybody loves the blindside. But, when I turned around and grabbed my torch, I did look at Joe. The look said, “Please tell me it wasn’t you. Please tell me you had nothing to do with it. I don’t give a crap about anybody else, but if you did, my heart would literally break.” And my second look was, “Alright dude, you’ve got this. You’ve got to take it now.”
Holmes: I guess you never truly know until you watch it on TV. Was it a relief to get that verification?
Wiglesworth: Definitely. In my heart, I really didn’t think he did. But when you’re out there you never know. One side of you thinks you can trust people, but you don’t really know these people. You only met this dude seven days ago. There’s this second of, “Did someone just really stab me in the back?” But, I didn’t believe he did. Him or Keith. That would’ve made me sad. Kimmi also I knew didn’t have anything to do with it. Tasha didn’t have anything to do with it. The real surprise was Jeremy.
Holmes: What was your plan going forward?
Wiglesworth: I was looking to win immunities. I didn’t feel like I had any other choice than to play the same game I played the first time. Lay low…be cool with everybody. Then win challenges as much as you can. That’s where I was intending to go with it. You hope you can have a strong alliance, but with this season nobody had any loyalty. At the end of the day, if you want to stay in the game you’ve got to have that necklace.
Holmes: What was going through your mind last night when Probst offered the chance for an advantage if you quit the immunity challenge?
Wiglesworth: I was so focused on what I was doing that I wasn’t really listening.
Holmes: (Laughs) Tuning Probst out during challenges is never a bad strategy.
Wiglesworth: (Laughs) I didn’t really get what was going on until it had happened. Spencer and Fishbach were already in the water.
Holmes: What story did Fishbach give when he was asked what his advantage was?
Wiglesworth: He didn’t say anything. We all speculated and he was like, “Can’t tell you.” At least that’s what I heard when I was around. He was like, “Maybe I’ll tell you later.” But the general consensus was that it put a target on him.
Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Monica.
Wiglesworth: (Laughs) I don’t know if I can say it.
Holmes: Sure you can.
Wiglesworth: (Laughs) Tension.
Holmes: Chicken. Savage?
Wiglesworth: Little brother.
Wiglesworth: Good guy.
Wiglesworth: Spinning around in circles.
Wiglesworth: I…I can’t think of anything for Kass.
Holmes: Has your Second Chance experience changed your opinion of the game?
Wiglesworth: When I first heard about “Survivor”, we didn’t know what the full experience was going to be. I was looking forward to the actual surviving. I really believed people were going to start dropping out because it’s so difficult. I thought people would volunteer to leave or the options to vote out would be more obvious. But, it was much more of a psychological and social game. Knowing that, I was shocked at how that was so much more of a focus. I don’t feel like there was an effort from the new-school players to really try for the survival part. Or try hard in the challenges. It was very, “Let’s focus on someone and get them out.” Why can’t we win a challenge, then we don’t have to worry about that. Let’s worry about it when we have to.
Holmes: One of the criticisms of you game is that you weren’t doing enough strategizing even after losing a challenge. Was that part of the plan?
Wiglesworth: Yeah. I felt like I was one of the biggest targets out there. I had to lay low and be mellow and not try to be as physically strong in challenges. Everyone felt like I didn’t know what was going on and I wasn’t there to play, but that was my strategy. I had to do that. And later on is when I felt like I was in a position to start making moves. I felt like I was just getting started. I was just getting over my fifteen-year hangover.
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