‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’ exclusive: Chris Hammons on blindside, biggest regret, Gen X ‘factions’

Entering “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X,” our initial thought was that Chris Hammons was going to be a guy who went home shortly after the merge. However, after seeing him on the show it was pretty clear that there was something more there. He had a way of communicating that made us feel like he had the social game to make it pretty darn far despite being an obvious target.

Unfortunately, that still wasn’t enough to squelch the obvious triple threat that he was in the game given that he was athletic, had a strong alliance around him, and that he seemed to get along with most people. He was voted out in the first of the two episodes that aired on CBS last week, and we got a chance to go through everything that happened to him today in an exit interview.

CarterMatt – I’m sure it had to be hard to watch all that back, but how was it to be a part of one of the best two hours of ‘Survivor’ we’ve seen in a long time?

Chris Hammons – As a fan, you look at what a great season and a well-cut episode that was last week — but it’s definitely brought back some feelings! The sting came back.

One of the things I’m always curious about with a guy like you is that you’re such an obvious physical target and you seem like a pretty intelligent guy. How do you try to minimize the target on you?

Pre-merge, I did a pretty good job I think of trying to downplay the strategic side, and let other people make the decisions, or at least make them think it was their idea. Post-merge, I probably came out a little too strong trying to dictate some things. It’s difficult with my size — I kinda stick out like a sore thumb anywhere.

On the flip side, you’ve got David, someone who, as Bret said on Wednesday, has ‘always got an idol.’ I know he’s not [a physical threat], but how much talk was there about targeting him before you were voted out?

We talked about him as a threat. I knew Dave was a huge threat in this game, he played it very tough and he’s very smart. To me he was one of the #1 threats, but at the time we were working together and I wanted to get to a certain point before we turned on each other. Unfortunately he made the move [before me].

You said on the show Wednesday that it was a blindside. Did you expect one vote to come your way at least?

No I didn’t, honestly. As soon as I saw my name [I knew] — there was no way this group was going to make a move against me if they weren’t pretty much 99% sure they had the votes. They wouldn’t have made the move just to throw out three or four votes. As soon as I saw my name, I was like ‘I’m done.’

So after you saw that [one vote], did you just wanna get up and leave Tribal Council?

You kinda do! You’re kinda stunned. It’s like you were hit in the stomach or something. I was floundering around in my head, thinking ‘what they hell just happened?’ It’s difficult.

Was there any disappointment towards Zeke turning on you? I know the show made a point out of showing your Oklahoma bond.

I was. Zeke and I were tight. We shared some moments, and I felt like he owed me in this game and we were going to run this thing. If that vote went Jessica, it was gonna be hard to stop Zeke and I moving forward. That stung the worst.

What’s the real origin story for you and Jessica? Was the friction mostly based out of the Paul vote, or did it fester and be about something more over time?

It started with [Paul], but it even festered more with Dave playing his idol on Jess; that just grew the animosity between the factions on Gen X. At that point Gen X was just broken, and moving forward Jess was just too big a part of that group. She was close to Ken, to Adam, and to Dave. We thought that if we removed her from the equation, we have three free agents essentially, and they’re going to have to cling to my group. I felt like if I got her out, it was good for us moving forward.

So based on what you’re saying, I guess there wasn’t really any way for all of you to repair that relationship after the merge.

There probably would’ve been, since we had some decent conversations. But, I don’t blame her because I went after her (laughs). How can you blame her for coming after me? I wasn’t the only one coming after her. It wasn’t just my idea to vote Jess out, but what Dave did was brilliant in that he gave himself a two-way out. If Zeke goes ‘I’m not voting Jess out,’ Dave says ‘you’re right,’ and he walks right over and joins our gang. That’s it.

Is there one move that you thought about making, and you wish that you had?

Dave, at the swap. I should’ve taken Dave off, and then he wouldn’t have been able to buddy off with Zeke, Zeke would’ve clung to me more, and that would’ve pushed me forward in the game.

What was the perception of Jay over the days before you were voted out? Was there a perception that he wasn’t as much of a threat with Taylor voted out?

A lot of people were just looking for the right moment to vote Jay out. There’s no doubt about it. We felt like it was really shocking that he didn’t play the idol for the Taylor vote or my vote — for my vote, I don’t know what he was thinking! It could’ve very well been his name written down in the way we were portraying it to him.

Kudos to him for having the juevos to not play that idol, but we were definitely targeting him and he was a huge threat.

So do you think that someone tipped him off that he wasn’t going home?

Not as far as I know! But, it shows you what I know ’cause I got knocked out! (Laughs.) I felt like since he voted my way, I felt like maybe he had enough information to say ‘I think they’ve got the numbers to vote Jess off, so I’ll stick with them and see what happens on the next vote.’

Who was your ideal final three? Did you want to go to the final three with Bret and Sunday?

I don’t think I’d have taken Bret. I think with Sunday, it’s not that she’s a horrible game-player, but I think it would’ve been perceived that she just clung to me and rode the coattails.

Probably I would’ve stuck with Adam or Hannah as another one. Whether or not it would’ve worked out, who knows?

What was your feeling about Bret out there? He’s really stepped up as a big character the past few weeks after being relatively quiet in the early going.

Oh, Bret is great. he was hilarious on the show, just a funny, witty guy who does his part in camp. We were buddies, and we instantly hit it off. He’s funny, but that what makes him a threat. He’s almost too likable. He’s one of those guys you vote for just because he is likable.

Couple of last things. First, would you play again?

Yes, absolutely. I’d jump on a plane today if they’d let me.

So what would you change about your game? Would it be something huge, or just little changes with the relationships and the strategy?

There are a lot of things — I don’t want to give away too much in case I’m back, but I would be a little freer with myself. I won’t have to hide that I’m a lawyer; everyone will know it, and I think that will help. There are a lot of things that I could’ve voiced in there, but it would have [outed] me as being a lawyer. That’ll allow me to be freer with relationship-building.

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