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Gordon Holmes: Dean’s idol was obviously a surprise, but two votes in your favor had to have been a bigger one. At the time, what do you think had happened?
Jack Nichting: As soon as I saw the second vote, my mind went straight to Kellee.
Nichting: Kellee and I had a very tumultuous game together. There were times where I really trusted her, there were times where I didn’t trust her. There are so many confessionals where I’m like, “Kellee is the one person I don’t trust in this game!” And then two hours later I’m like, “Kellee and I just had a beautiful heart to heart. I think I can play with her.” And then an hour later, “No! Kellee’s not the person for me!” I obviously didn’t know the complexity of her move, that’s pretty crazy.
Nichting: But I knew that Kellee was the one that betrayed me.
Holmes: You and Kellee were joking around about backstabbing each other. And yet, stabby stabby. Why do you think she targeted you so soon?
Nichting: It all goes back to Molly being voted out. Right before the Molly vote, we were just chatting and I said, “Kellee, what are we doing?” They made it seem like me, Molly, and Jamal were calling the shots the first couple of days. That wasn’t the case at all. I was the biggest follower those first couple of days because I didn’t want to have a voice. “Let’s do that! That sounds great!” So, I’d ask Kellee what we were doing. Since that moment with the blindside, I was hesitant about it. Kellee was getting close with Jason and Jason was the person whose name I was writing down. Ever since I saw those relationships unfold on Vokai, I was very hesitant. I knew Kellee was always thinking, she was with Jason who was a master strategist. It was a gut feeling that we weren’t on the same page in the game. But, you get so caught up in the moment, we’re spending time together, we’re starving together, you really connect with someone. You can convince yourself that you can work with someone.
Holmes: Dean and Kellee seemed to bond over this mysterious ex-girlfriend. Were there any murmurs around camp that maybe these two were getting too close?
Nichting: There were crabbing together all the time. It freaked me out. So, there’s a secret scene of us going crab hunting. I just started imposing myself on the Dean/Kellee dates. I didn’t like them hanging out one-on-one. Kellee swore they weren’t having strategic game talks. That being said, every single night since we got to Lairo, Janet, Jamal, Kellee, and I would stay up for hours and talk game. Really bond. When there’s seven, you only need four. So we’d say, “This is it. We’re going to make the merge. It makes no sense for any of us to flip. Because if you flip you turn two people against you and you’re going to go into the merge with no alliance and you’ll be out.” So, although Dean and Kellee were together, we thought we had this foursome running Lairo.
Holmes: When you get to the immunity challenge and see that Jason is gone, did you think that would strengthen your classic Vokai bonds?
Nichting: We’re at this thing and we see that he’s gone and Tommy, Lauren, and Dan are looking at us, pleading for us to throw the challenge. I’m pretty sure Kellee wanted to throw the challenge and Janet thought about it. But Jamal and I were like, “No.” Because the only way to guarantee that you’re moving forward is to win. This game has to be selfish. It has to be about us. If one of them is gone, we can still figure it out.
Holmes: There was a really interesting conversation last night about gender and not assuming that women are going to work together based solely on the fact that they’re women. And yet, we saw Missy telling Lauren that she was the connection to the classic Vokai women and Noura literally asking to play her “woman card.” Now that you’ve seen the whole thing, what’s your takeaway?
Nichting: When we saw Ronnie go home, we thought there must be an all-girl thing. And then we saw Vince go home and thought there’s definitely one. But, then Chelsea goes home, so maybe there’s not. I think Kellee has a point and the stereotype and assumption definitely exists. It’s unfair. But, that being said, the way this season is rolling out, it seems like strong women’s alliances are always talked about. On Lairo there’s a women’s alliance. And then we’ve got Noura always talking about a women’s alliance. So, although I agree with Kellee, in this specific instance it’s interesting because we’re dealing with a potential all-girls alliance.
Holmes: OK, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with…Noura.
Nichting: Flamboyant and excitable.
Nichting: Deep and eager to open up.
Nichting: Strategist, frantic.
Nichting: Cool and bro-y.
Nichting: Best friend.
Nichting: Very calm and quiet.
Nichting: Agressive game player.
Nichting: Sweet and funny.
Nichting: (Laughs) Himself.
Holmes: And, let’s finish with Kellee.
Holmes: I was very touched by the way you and Jamal were able to talk through the “do-rag” incident. It seems like in society today, we let these things fester and blow up and it was nice to see you guys talk it out and be stronger for it.
Nichting: Jamal and I since day two or day three were best friends in the game. We had a final four deal. We wanted to play together. I felt very comfortable with Jamal. I felt comfortable making what I thought would be a joke. I immediately realized it wasn’t a tasteful thing to say. I’m grateful that Jamal did not allow that moment to define me. I’m hopeful that the viewers won’t define me by that moment. I think it shows that regardless of how aware and conscious I am of myself, we can all learn something and move forward from these types of things. And, I do want to make it clear that this conversation with Jamal wasn’t a strategic thing. It wasn’t insuring that my ally stayed my ally. It was so my very close friend would remain my very close friend.
Holmes: You just missed the merge. Heartbreaker. What was the plan if the Dean vote had gone as you’d anticipated.
Nichting: The plan was Jamal and I ride or die. We wanted to go into the merge with Kellee, with Janet, with Noura, with Karishma. The six of us wanted to go in as a cohesive unit. But, Jamal and I were open to flipping if we had to because I was close to Lauren and Tommy. I was optimistic that I could have relationships with Aaron, Elaine, Missy… A lot of the conversation was who could we get to jump to our side. And I was sure I could get Tommy to flip because he and I are boys.
Holmes: Did you know about Jamal’s idol?
Nichting: No idea. I think it’s the one secret he kept from me.
Holmes: You’re the first juror. However, you’re going to be juror-ing…juroring? You’re going to be judging people you haven’t played with. How do you cover that gap?
Nichting: My big approach to being the mayor of Ponderosa, and I’m excited about that title…
Holmes: Congratulations, sir.
Nichting: Thank you. I’m going to make everyone feel so great about what happened. “You played freakin’ ‘Survivor!’ That’s so cool! Let’s appreciate the time we had in the game.” I know people come back bitter and biased. So, my approach is going to be, “Let’s remove ourselves from the frustrations and tell me what really happened. What’s Elizabeth really like? What’s Elaine really like? What kind of game are they playing?” I want an objective analysis of what they’re doing.
Holmes: A noble mayoral administration. I appreciate that.
Nichting: I’m trying to be!