‘Survivor: Kaoh Rong’ exclusive: Kyle Jason on Joe vote, strategy, audience reaction, and more

Kyle Jason -

Kyle Jason was often a wrecking ball on “Survivor: Kaoh Rong.” He pushed hard strategically, at times used “psychological warfare” to get his way, and seemed almost guaranteed to last a while thanks to the whole super-idol plan with Scot Pollard and Tai Trang.

Of course, the main word of emphasis in this past sentence was “almost.” Tai flipping on his former allies put Scot and Jason into a world of hurt on the merged tribe, and two episode after the former NBA player left the game, the bounty hunter Jason did the same in what was surprisingly a boot we didn’t see coming. Thanks to the editors for completely throwing us off, since as Jason told us today in a lengthy exit chat, he was able to telegraph this a mile away.

CarterMatt – Going into tribal council, were you sure you were going home, or did you just assume that every time at this point?

Kyle Jason – I knew there was no hope on this one. The last three days leading up to tribal council, days 29 to 32, nobody spoke to me, man. At camp, they just wouldn’t talk to me at all. At the reward challenge they refused to talk strategy with me, which is rare. You’ve seen the show, so you know that doesn’t happen that often. I was very isolated, [and with that] I saw it coming. You have time to prep for your departure, getting your head around the thought that ‘this sucks, it’s going to be votes for Jason.’ It’s not a fun feeling; you try very hard, and then you watch your game be snatched out in front of you and there’s nothing you can do to change it no matter how hard you tried. I tried to talk, I tried to get people in, but they just wouldn’t entertain it.

In a sense, though, if you have to go out and they feel like the only way to do so is to not talk to you, that’s pretty flattering! You must be that big of a threat for them to think that if they talk to you, you could get somebody to flip. It just sucks to be leaving the game. You want to play, and you play to win. It just wasn’t my time to win, I guess.

Your vote for Joe, was that just you putting one on him because you guys didn’t mesh well, or because someone like Cydney, who had also clashed with him, came and told you to put his name down?

That was all me. I felt when it came down to me, I knew the girls were very locked-in, and with that I knew where Joe was going to vote. I knew Tai was making a play at Michele, but I knew he didn’t have the numbers. I wasn’t going to get in line and hope for the best, since I knew he didn’t have the numbers and it wasn’t going to happen. I knew where the votes were going 100%, so I decided that I was going to vote for whoever I wanted. In my opinion, Joe hasn’t shown enough to stay in the game longer than me, so I was going to make sure that [he was going to get my vote at Tribal Council].

So what got you to that point where nobody would talk to you? Was it the ‘psychological warfare,’ or was it you and Scot being big threats earlier in the game with the idols? Was there anything you could do to turn things around?

I tried. I was working! You can see that in the last two episodes; I did my best to change people’s thoughts. I can’t see them [saying] ‘oh we have to get him out, he sabotaged us.’ The only person I could see stuck on that was Michele, who thought I had to go and more power to her. I truly believe I was taken out of the game because I am a big threat. I win challenges; I can run through water like you wouldn’t believe, and even Cydney brought that up. I can outlast a lot of people at a lot of things, and I was one of the strongest people left … I can also preach at tribal council. I know how to talk, I know how to get in people’s heads. I can throw a wrench in plans. I like to think that I was voted out because of all of those things, because I am a large threat.

Now, I could be very off and could be being very biased towards myself, but until someone comes out and says ‘no, you were just a d–k, that’s why you went home,’ I like to think what I want to think about myself.

We saw you talk a little bit about your daughter [with autism] and your story on the show. Did you get a sense out there that there could be some afraid of sitting next to you because of that? You probably had Scot’s vote, but could you endear yourself to some of the other players?

They never brought it up to me. I know while watching the show that Cydney has talked about it, that other people have talked about it, but I told myself going in that I wasn’t going to bring my kids up on my own because I didn’t want to be a sympathy vote because of my children. But, if somebody asked me about my family, I would tell the truth because my daughters deserve the truth and deserve to be talked about. The situation that we are in deserves to be brought to light, because there are a lot of families out there who are dealing with the same stuff and it should not be shied away from. So whether it would hurt me or help me, I promised myself that if I was asked, I would tell it like it was and I would not hide it, be embarrassed of it, or anything. I would say it with pride, with love, and let it be known. I’m proud of myself for doing that.

So when you were out there in the game, did you perceive yourself as a villain in any way? I bring this up because at that tribal council where you and Scot reveal the immunity idols, it felt almost like you were a WWE bad guy trying to cut a promo. Was there a certain part of you cognizant of the cameras in that moment, or was that just a part of your game?

That was 100% in the moment. I love going to tribal. It gives me a podium to stand in front of, to just be myself and have a good time. That’s how I treated tribal every time. If I could put on a good time, I’m going to. It had nothing to do with TV. I was trying to intimidate and let it be known and bluff my way through it, and it worked! We bluffed our way through that night. We wanted to put on a spectacle for them, and make them think that we were going to make a big scene and have a good time and play. We just did it that way off-the-cuff, no practice. We just had an idea that we were going to go in there, we weren’t gonna use it, and that we were going to play ‘rock, paper, scissors’ and then we’re going to sit down. Everything else came natural.

How long were you and Scot planning on keeping Tai around? You both obviously knew he was a threat.

It depended for me. Paranoia started getting to Tai. I knew that if it continued to get to him and it continued to escalate, I 100% wanted to keep him around until the finals, if it was a final 3. If he stayed strong the way that he was, there was no way I’d go to the end with him. I would’ve brought Julia.

Now if it was a final two, it was always going to be Scot and I. Bring the Wonder Twins to the end and let them decide which twin remained.

In looking back at the start of the game, do you wish looking back that you had voted out Alecia before Darnell and Jen?

[If I did it again] I’d still get rid of Darnell and Jen first and second. Darnell, I got rid of him simply because he started getting cozy with my girl! Cydney and I were close, and he started getting close to her like Cydney and I were. I couldn’t have her getting close to [him], so ‘you gotta go.’

Jenny, she tried to make a play against me, so it would be foolish of me to keep her around, especially that early in the game. ‘If you’re already trying to get rid of me, what makes me think I can trust you in the long run? What makes me think you’re going to keep me for the long run? You gotta go.’

I kept Alecia around simply because I knew I could get rid of her later. So keep her, get rid of those two. I’d do it again.

What has it been like for you watching everything play out a year after the fact? I’ve been around social media, and there are plenty of people who really like you, and then plenty of others who don’t.

When it comes to social media, I take it with a grain of salt. The people bashing me on social media either wish they could be me, or they have bigger problems in life. A lot of people who bash me on social media say worse things about me than anything that I’ve said about anyone in the game. I don’t really listen to it. I got a lot of prep and information from former players who have called me and reached out and said ‘this is what’s gonna happen. There are going to be vile people on the internet, so don’t listen to them.’ I was able to get that advice ahead of time and really use it.

The people who love me have been great. They’ve been so supportive and I’m so grateful to them and their belief in me. They’ve made it an amazing experience and they’ve made the year that we had to wait worth it. I think we put on a great season, I think we were a great cast all around, all 18 of us. I’m very satisfied.

Finally, if you were to go back, and I’d assuming that you would want to, what would you do to change up your game?

I’d have to play a completely different game. We all saw what happened to Russell’s game. I love Russell, but it’s very clear that you can’t play that game twice. (Editor’s note: Russell only did because nobody on “Heroes vs. Villains” saw “Samoa” beforehand.)

If I was to go back, if CBS was to entertain the idea of having me back and we talked and felt it was right, then I could not play that same game in any shape or form. I have to go out there with a different mindset and plan from the beginning. It would be my only chance to win, since otherwise I’d be just like Russell’s third play and be voted out really early.

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