Rob Cesternino talks with the latest player to be eliminated from Survivor: Kaoh Rong in our weekly exit interview podcast. Plus, Rob talks to Jordan Kalish about the moments from This Week in Survivor History
Survivor Kaoh Rong Exit Interview with Nick Maiorano
Nick: No. Who is this? I don’t want to talk to you.
Rob: You don’t want to?
N: Not right now. Can we talk six weeks from now?
R: We can again if you want to.
N: [laughs] Yeah well I’m already out so I guess we have to talk.
R: Alright, Nick. Anyway, though it was a fun ride. Sorry to see you go. But we gotta get into all of this stuff. First, how are you doing? Are you doing okay?
N: I’m doing fantastic. Obviously I’m bummed with the result but it’s been an enjoyable experience for me.
Rob: So going into the vote last night, did you have any idea that you had rubbed Cydney the wrong way so much? She seemed like she really got a good hate into you.
Nick: Yeah well, obviously when she went to talk to Jason at the water well I knew that, I knew Jason had to go fix that issue with her. I knew she was perturbed by me for sure.
R: And so did you have any sort of inkling that she was plotting against you or you just thought she was sort of generally annoyed with you?
N: Here’s the thing, we got back from the immunity challenge, and as soon as we got back Michele had told me that I was the target. And as soon as she told me that, I didn’t dig in deeper with her because I saw Scot and Jason walking to the water well. But sure enough, I go talk to those guys to try to figure out why I’m the target and they told me the truth, they’re like nope we’re doing a split with the Brains, we’re getting one of the Brains out, yada yada yada. So I thought I corrected it, but I didn’t know Michele had meant, hey it’s Cydney, and it’s the Brains who are coming after you.
R: So you thought that Jason and Scot were coming for you?
N: Yeah because she made some general statement like “Nick, I think they’re coming for you tonight” or “I think they’re targeting you tonight”. And I unfortunately- Scot and Jason were walking to the water well at exactly that point and I bolted away to go figure it out.
R: So when you went to Aubry to tell her to put a vote on Debbie, did you feel like that that was correcting the fact that they were coming after you?
N: Yeah, so I had known that I was the potential target and I wanted more votes on Debbie than I did on Aubry because I wanted to work with Aubry. So I was trying to scare her into voting out Debbie. I went back to the confessional after that talk with Aubry, I was like cracking up like “oh my god what was I doing, she didn’t respond to that good whatsoever” and I knew it was the wrong approach except I didn’t pick up on the fact that it was the wrong approach because Aubry knew that I was the target with Cydney-
R: Already by that point?
N: Yeah already by that point, they had already had the conversation.
R: When you went to Aubry, was that more of a pro-Abury move or was that more of an anti-Debbie move? Because it seemed like you really soured on Debbie from the point where you were talking about it in the sixth episode about how you were going to listen to her, you were going to be the person that Debbie wants to be which is herself. But it seemed like very shortly after that you seemed like you really got tired of Debbie.
N: It was 100% pro-Aubry and 100% anti-Debbie. It worked out perfectly where I got to work with somebody who I wanted to work with and get rid of somebody who I didn’t want to work with. So Debbie was rubbing me the wrong way just because she was so public about, I don’t want to say her affection, but whatever, her liking towards me. And that’s going to ruin my game and that’s going to ruin her game. So I can’t work with somebody like that if you’re so obvious out there in front of a group. That’s what always rubbed me the wrong way, I would have loved to work with Debbie but she never made it private, or as private as she should have as far as I’m concerned.
R: Alright, a lot was made over these last couple episodes about the relationship that you had with Michele in the game after all of the (Michele soundclip: “I don’t need to be carried, bro”). Yeah! I don’t need to be carried bro!
Nick: Ugh! What about it?
R: Well it really went back and forth and it seemed like at times that it was a productive relationship, you also had Michele saying “hey, I don’t want to vote out Nick, bro”, he’s in my alliance. But then ultimately, Michele and Julia do vote against you. So how was that relationship with Michele? Was it closer than we saw on the TV show or not as close? Just, I’d love to hear more about that.
N: It was definitely mixed because I started wrong with Michele on the Beauty tribe. She was the first person who was supposed to be voted out because Anna and Julia wanted her out the first three days.
R: The girls wanted Michele out?
N: Yeah, so Julia approached me saying like “hey, are you okay with getting Michele out?” and I was not okay with it because I had seen Michele’s audition video on YouTube before playing the game.
N: And I unfortunately had this idea of who Michele was, and I put these unreasonable expectations on Michele. And that was my downfall because I didn’t communicate effectively with her because of that. So I was like “oh my God, the person I wanted to work with is the person who’s on the outs right away”. So I’m going into protection mode and eventually she worked her way into the girls’ alliance, so props to her for that. She didn’t want to vote me out, she wanted to vote out Tai once Caleb was gone. But, and then at Brains, she was the person who was on the outs again, and I was like “oh my God! This person I’ve tied myself to is still on the outs wherever I go!” So that was really frustrating for me, and I took that out on Michele. And that’s so wrong to do from a personal standpoint and a strategy standpoint. I just didn’t communicate with her effectively because I put these unreasonable expectations on her. And that’s my fault.
R: How do you communicate with her now?
N: Well, we get along, we’re laughing about it, we’re enjoying it. Yeah, we’re friendly.
N: What are you trying to ask? Are you trying to ask if we’re dating? Go on, keep going.
R: If you want to talk about that, that’s fine too.
N: No, it’s not a love podcast Rob. Let’s keep going.
R: Alright, was there any talk about the Beauty tribe getting back together, say at like final seven? Because you had this seven-person alliance but you guys outnumbered the Brawn. Was there any sort of talk about the Beauty four being a group back together or was that sort of DOA?
N: The big problem was Tai couldn’t have the conversations with Julia and Michele and vice versa. They could never really connect on a conversation level. I had always been trying to be that connecting piece. So Michele and I, once Neal went out, under that tree we had talked about a series of votes coming up and who we were going to blindside and one of them was Cydney coming up, like at the nine spot. And unfortunately didn’t get the chance to do that plan because we didn’t go to tribal, we didn’t set the alliances in line and it came back to bite. Because her and I, that was my thought, let’s play in the middle because the Brawn are never going to work with the Brain. Just never, based on their personalities. Unfortunately, Michele and Julia kind of went with Cydney and the Brains and that’s what did me in.
R: How come you were never able to get a close relationship going with Tai? Based on what we saw on the TV show, it seemed like Tai, he loves Beast Mode Cowboy, he loves Scot, how come we never saw any- I don’t even remember him even mentioning you or talking about you in any of his confessionals. Why wasn’t there anything going on from what we saw from you and Tai?
N: Yeah, I think it’s just a real estate issue of not being able to get the content on the screen. We got along, we laughed and we were able to communicate a lot because Anna had wanted myself, Julia and Tai to be in a four-person alliance. And so Tai was close with Anna and Tai was close with me, from a strategy standpoint. On a surface level he was good with Caleb, and the other two other girls, Julia and Michele, he couldn’t connect with. So Tai and I would go looking for idols together, and that’s why I wasn’t mad at him when he was looking for an idol by himself, like I don’t mind we were just looking before. So no, I got along with Tai, I liked Tai. And we talked strategy and talked about the dynamics of the group a lot, they just didn’t show it.
R: What was with Tai voting for Jason last night? Do you have any idea of why he ends up voting- I mean you didn’t know why anyone was voting for you at that point I guess, but did you have any sense of why Tai was voting Jason? Was there any sort of falling out between them?
N: Well no, so as soon as we got back form the challenge Cydney had pitched to the Brains, let’s vote out Nick, and they kind of locked into that. And then Julia and Michele started having second guesses about it, so they wanted to vote out Jason. So they pitch it to Cydney, they pitch it to the Brains, and Tai is in on that conversation and sure enough, they’re debating it, and then Debbie goes “no, we can’t vote out Jason because Joe is already locked in, he’s not going to remember to vote for the right person”. So they decided against that. So I guess Tai just didn’t get that last piece of information, hey we’re sticking with Nick, we’re not voting out Jason. So that was the issue for Tai.
R: Wait, what do you mean Joe wasn’t going to remember to vote for the right person?
N: So that was Debbie’s reasoning because like, oh Joe is so old or whatever. And that’s not the reason I went home so let’s not paint it like that, but that was Debbie’s way of putting it. Maybe she just really wanted to get me out because she was pissed at me but that’s how it was framed based on what I know. So it could have been Jason easily.
R: So I really enjoyed the Ponderosa video this week and getting to watch you and Neal interact and in those conversations that you were having with Neal at Ponderosa you guys disagreed about how things would have gone down at that first vote after the merge if Neal hadn’t been med-evac’ed. From your perspective, how would that vote have gone?
N: Okay so, we were going to vote on Aubry, the Beauty, three on Neal from the Brawn and then when we were going to have a revote, then we were going to vote out Neal. So I don’t know exactly how they cut my confessionals and whatnot to say that Aubry was on the bottom but, and I said those things early on, but Neal would have been voted out on the revote if he didn’t play the idol for himself.
R: Okay. We had at tribal council last night, Tai had this, talking about the Super Idol and then tried to walk it back like, “Oh, maybe people are lying to me about the Super Idol.” Julia clearly didn’t know about it. How much was that being spoken about, the powers of the idol if two of the idols came together in a way that Julia had no idea about it. Did you know about it?
N: Yeah I think when I approached Neal and he was still in the game I asked him about what was the bulge in his pocket, he had told me he had an idol, he had showed me he had an idol and I believe he told me the rules then. I’m not positive on that though. But nobody else knew anything about the idols. I didn’t tell anybody about what Scot told me. I didn’t tell anybody about what Neal had told me. So Julia was surprised and that was a big blunder from Tai. Huge. He had a meltdown this episode and hopefully he bounces back from it.
R: And so for Julia, was she intentionally kept out of the loop on this stuff? Did Michele know about any of this?
N: No, I refused to tell Michele, because I had over-shared with Michele early on at Beauty, telling her that she was on the outs and I figured that backfired on me because that’s when the girls’ alliance started. So no, I didn’t share anything, so they didn’t know, they had no idea about any of the idols.
R: You seemed like you were tightly aligned with Jason and Scot but you also talked about how okay, well they also seem like they’re overconfident. What was your reasoning about getting aligned so tightly with them and how far did you plan on working with them?
N: So the plan was to blindside them by voting out Cydney at nine with the help of Michele and Julia and the Brains, whoever was left. But I wanted to work with them because they couldn’t work with the Brains and vice versa. And then that was the reason for it, at least initially and then keep bouncing back. I like those guys, but they’re obnoxious when they’re together. Not in a bad way, they’re just rowdy. So I wanted to blindside them at nine, they wanted to blindside me at eight. So they were going to take me out before the strong seven that we had talk about, so whoever could punch first was going to do it but unfortunately Cydney took it into her own hands to do it.
R: Stephen and I debated this a lot last night, we felt like who was this a better move for. I felt like I didn’t love the move for Cydney as much as I liked it for some of the other people that were involved. So you’re saying that you wanted to blindside Cydney at the next vote, is it possible that did she catch wind of this at all?
N: No, she didn’t catch wind of it because that was just between Michele and I but I think she should have made the move the vote that I was going to make the move, so next episode. I think she just got a little, not over-emotional, or over-anxious to do this. And who knows what would have happened if we would have been able to vote out Cydney. But that was the plan when Neal was in the game. So I think who it benefitted the most at this point, Debbie, Joe and Aubry. As far as I’m concerned, they’re in the driver’s seat at this point. Things can change though. Immunity can be won, relationships can be made.
R: Alright, a lot was made about your arrogance in the game, you even said to Aubry, “I just can’t believe how arrogant I’m being!” Do you feel like did that really cost you or was it stuff that you just felt like was being fun for TV? How much of this is the real Nick?
N: [laughs] Well no, that’s definitely part of my personality where I’ll be arrogant but to me it’s in a fun way, it’s in a laughable way. That’s just me opening up that portion of my brain for the show. But in real life I’m obviously a humble guy or a nice guy or whatever you want to call it. But for a joke, for a laugh, that’s how I behave so without context I can see why it was grating to people. And obviously you understand because you’ve talked to me a couple times so I’m appreciative of you giving that side of it, but it’s also understandable why people wouldn’t like that if they don’t know you.
R: Nick, I do hope that we can catch up some more in the future, any time you want to come up this way and talk about an episode or anything like that, got an open invitation. All the best. Looking forward to seeing you at the finale okay?
N: I’ll be taking it and thank you Rob, can’t wait to see you.
R: Alright, take care buddy, bye.
Special thanks to Molly Jackson for writing this week’s interview summary