Survivor: David vs. Goliath interview: Dan Rengering on idol nullifier shocker

DanOn this past episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliathwe saw one of the more shocking vote-offs that we’ve had a chance to witness in quite some time. After all, Dan Rengering was voted off despite playing an immunity idol for himself, making this the first time ever that a played idol ending up leading to someone actually being voted off. It’s still a rather-shocking thing to digest; yet, the show must go on … at least for the remaining players.

As we got into our weekly exit interview with Dan (conducted later than usual due to the Thanksgiving holiday), there is one question that we wondered more so than any other: Has Dan been able to get over going home in this way?

New Survivor video: In addition to the interview below, be sure to also check out our video below that is all about our exit interview takeaways — if you like this, be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube for more and take a look at our playlist.

CarterMatt – Are you still haunted by the way in which you were voted off?

Dan Rengering – A little bit, because I wasn’t ready to go home and I thought that I was good. It’s been a few months now,so I’ve come to terms with it.

Here’s the big thing that I’ve wondered — had Jeff Probst come to you guys at the start of the season and just said ‘hey guys, there’s a new twist this season, and just because you have an immunity idol does not mean you are safe.’ If those words were spoken, would your thinking or gameplay have been any different?

I can’t say that it would, but I like to think that it would have changed. Maybe I would’ve had a little better social strategy; that certainly wasn’t the best part of my game by any stretch. It would’ve been nice to know and not be surprised with it at tribal.

Do you really think that there is anything that you could have done differently to change the outcome of this past vote, save for winning immunity?

At Tribal, there was nothing I could do at that point. It was game over and I do think back on my social game. I was so gung-ho on being Goliath strong, thinking that ‘this was our alliance, we’re going to take out the Davids, and that’s what we’re going to do.’ I focused on that instead of focusing on branching out my game and talking with more of the Davids like Gabby and Carl and Nick and Davie. So, that’s definitely something that I could’ve done better.

I know there’s a ton of downtime, and I’m sure in that a lot of strategic ideas are talked about. Was the idea of an idol nullifier something that ever really crossed anyone’s mind, other than the people who already knew about it?

Oh no! Not at all. That was something that was never talked about. You can’t predict what’s invisible. On past seasons of Survivor the idol has been sacred. It’s always taken care of whoever has needed it. Nobody ever imagined that would happen.

I know that you wanted to stay Goliath Strong. At the time you were out there, did you think personally that any Goliath could beat a David at the end? How much were you worried about that?

I firmly believed that if a David made it to the final three, they were going to win at the end. Everyone loves Rudy, everybody loves an underdog story.

I know you’re a physically-fit guy and that you have this highly-intense job, but you also have this weight-loss journey and you’ve been an underdog at times yourself in life. What did you think about being on the Goliath tribe?

I looked at the rest of the Goliaths and started to hear about their careers, but then I was like ‘I’m just a cop.’ We got engineers and doctors and more and there I was, thinking that I was just a cop (laughs). I’m still a fat kid at heart!

Was there hesitancy towards announcing that you were a cop, especially in this post-Tony world of Survivor?

There was hesitancy as I was leading into it, but I grew up being a cop. I started when I was 22 years old and it defines who I am to an extent. To me, there was no way of hiding it and you can’t fake it for a week, more or less the whole game. I’m definitely not Tony; I couldn’t pull it off like he did. I’m a different guy than him.

Were you surprised by the Strike Force or some of the other things that were going on behind the scenes?

I was a little bit surprised. You know that there is stuff going on, but you don’t know what kind of stuff is going on. I really had no clue about the Strike Force. You know that there are people talking, but you don’t know to what extent. It’s all a part of the game.

Who were you closest to on the David tribe?

Christian, for sure. My fellow brochacho (laughs).

So was it then hard in order to try to vote him off?

Yeah, it was hard for me because I try to be a loyal person and I care about the people who I’m close to. Yet, I never made any commitment to go to the end with him. That made it a little bit easier to handle. I didn’t want to see him go, but he was also one of the smartest people out there. He sees the game four steps ahead of everybody else and that made it a little bit easier.

Was it hard seeing Kara talking about flipping on you on this past episode? She seemed like she was your #1.

She was, and she was the person I clicked with from the beginning. I’m the sort of person who likes to springboard my ideas off of the people I’m closest to in my life, and I did it in the game. It was a little bit surprising to see that, for sure.

How much did losing John, someone who you were close to, hurt your game? Was he the #2 to Kara’s #1?

He was definitely my #2. That one hurt a lot because I’d spent every single day of that game with John — we hung out and did the brochacho stuff together. He was my best friend out there and he was tough to lose.

So if he’s the Mayor of Slamtown, are you like the City Manager or have some other position?

I think I’m like the Secretary of Defense or the Chief of Police. Something like that (laughs).

I’m sure Christian will build the mythology for you. In talking further about the John vote, you ended up using the idol on Angelina. Do you think she was closer to you after the fact because of that?

I definitely felt like she was more loyal to me — I mean, she thanked me profusely, even though it wasn’t needed.

What was your desired final three plan? Was it John and Kara, or would you have cut one of them along the way?

It would have been John and Kara, for sure. I don’t want to be miserable, even out there. They were the people I liked the best, so why wouldn’t I want to take them to the end? I wanted to end the game with them and I felt like I could beat them.

Do you have any interest in going back and playing again? At least you got a memorable exit so people will remember you.

I would go back in a heartbeat. CBS can call me tomorrow and ask me to come back; I’d drop everything and go.

So let’s say that they do that and you’re back out there. Will you ever look at immunity idols the same, and will you just be skittish about them?

Oh yeah, of course I’d be skittish with it! I think anyone after our season should be skittish with an idol. You’re not safe with anything anymore.

Related News Be sure to get some other news when it comes to Survivor, including our five players to watch out for on Wednesday’s episode!

Are you going to miss Dan on Survivor: David vs. Goliath? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments. (Photo: CBS.)

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