‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’ exclusive: Paul Wachter on blindside vote, Jessica’s decision, scary medical crisis

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We certainly do think that Paul Wachter can be classified as a big character through “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.” He never shied away from speaking his mind, he was the leader of a big alliance, and he had the utmost faith in them sticking together. Unfortunately for him, that was one of his problems as the women within this alliance flipped on him, leading to the second major blindside on the show in the past few weeks.

So how is Paul feeling now about the game that he played, and Jessica making the decision to turn on him after a key conversation? These were subjects that we had a chance to touch on with him in an exit interview on Thursday morning, which was done while much of his home state of Florida was bracing for Hurricane Matthew. Luckily, he was away from the eye of the storm.

CarterMatt – I’m glad to hear that you’re safe. I figure you’ve probably had enough of torrential rain for the rest of your life after some of what you went through in Fiji.

Paul Wachter – That was the worst rain ever. I’ve been in rain my whole life, and that was horrible.

In the moment, how shocked were you that someone in your alliance would be willing to stab you in the back?

I was beyond shocked. Everybody says ‘oh I didn’t know, it was a blindside, this or that,’ but you could tell in my post-interview that I was kind of a zombie. I couldn’t believe I was gone. Jessica played a very paranoid kind of game. I use ‘paranoid’ for lack of a better word — she was always worried about somebody doing something. Given her that opportunity by saying that I wanted to go with the boys just cemented my fate. I didn’t have any idea it came across like that; I was trying to convince them that we were all strong together.

You can see that I was talking with the guys while the girls were over there deciding my fate — I was over there saying ‘don’t worry about it. We’re all strong,’ and we were very strong … until I opened my mouth. I pulled that one [move] where I yelled at the screen [last night] going ‘what are you doing, you idiot?’

Was Jessica right to think that Chris and Bret were your final three in the game?

Oh no. I’m with Chris. Chris thought of that alliance, but we definitely had no reason to break up the six for some time — at least until after the merge. We were very comfortable where we were, and we didn’t need to do anything crazy. Ken wasn’t willing to join the alliance, we had David who would do anything and would join any alliance, and we had CeCe, who wasn’t helping us on any of the challenges. So, we thought right there it was going to be easy, one-two-three, and just hold it. That was a big mistake on my part. I got complacent, and as soon as you get complacent, you go down — and I did.

I know the whole ‘Millennials vs. Gen X’ thing has been hit really hard, but it does seem like there is this old-school approach, and I’ve seen it from a lot of older players, of sticking with a core alliance until late in the game. Was that just easier for you, and would you personally have taken the six down to the end of the game?

I thought it was very obvious that our six-person alliance could go as long as it could go, and I really felt that. I was always worried entering this game that I would be voted out on something stupid. It’d be the same way Mari got voted out — no rhyme or reason other than ‘I’m not really sure, let’s vote for Mari.’ I still didn’t get an explanation on why they voted her out. For some reason, that was when Jessica decided to make this big move. Even if you wanted to get me out, it didn’t have to be then! We had plenty of time to do all sorts of things. We obviously weren’t going to align with Ken because we’d already tried, and we couldn’t get him in the fold. It seemed obvious to me that going step by step was what was going to work, and I know it seemed the same for Chris and the same for Bret.

Were you ever averse to being the leader? Everyone wants a leader, but no one really wants to be the leader.

It’s impossible for me [to not be a leader]. When you go out there, you make this big game plan in your head like every player does. But once you strip away the skin, you’re going to go back to what’s in your core. If you look at the premiere, you’ll see when we I get back to the beach, I give a little speech. That’s my nature. Then Ken gives a little speech, and tells everyone what a great survivor and survivalist he is. That’s what I’m talking about. You think you’re going to do one thing, and then when you’re out there your personality comes out. It’s there.

I know it had to be really terrifying for you, but after your medical crisis was there a part of you that wondered whether or not you wanted to keep putting yourself through this? What made you want to keep going?

People ask me what it was like, and I say that on the scale of 1 to 10, it was a 15. It was real, it was there, and it was longer than it showed on TV. It impacted me dramatically.

I’m not a kid. I’ve been through a lot of adversity in my life, and I knew I was going to come back. I just knew it was going to take a lot of time, so my biggest fear was that I wasn’t going to get enough time to get my ducks back in a row and I was going to be in trouble. Luckily, for the rest of the day I got to just hydrate and relax. I got to sleep, and then for the challenge the next day I was like Superstar Man. I was like the first one off the dock, and I was a madman. That’s what happens — you get that never-quit attitude. People wait their whole lives to try to get on that show, and I’d be damned if I’m going to give up.

What was it like being out there with David? Is he as much of a character as we’ve seen on the show?

He’s an awesome guy, and of all the people out there he’s probably one of the most interesting — he’s one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s a super guy, and he’s portrayed weak on the show, but I really didn’t see him that way. He was a strong guy to take on these super fears that he had and stick with it. There were so many things he could have shied away from; he struggled with the first puzzle, but for the second puzzle he ran right out there again! He can barely swim, but he dove off a platform. He’s just one of those guys.

Lastly, does this turn out any differently for you if you were working with a mixture of Millennials and Gen X?

Yes. I think it turns out much differently for me. I think my ability to play the father-figure role would have helped a lot more than with people closer to my age. I mean, I’m 12 years older than my next competitor, but I think I would have done great with the Millennials.

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