‘Survivor: Philippines’ interview: Jeff Kent on Jonathan Penner alliance, strategy

Usually when you have a celebrity appear on “Survivor,” the general tendency is for them to be either stunt casting or an early boot. Just look at Jimmy Johnson, who really didn’t do much of anything en route to be the third person kicked off his season. However, Jeff Kent really did something different: while he did not necessarily make moves that we would endorse in his time on the show, he at least made moves.

So what Jeff’s ship really sunk by his decision to flip on Jonathan Penner a week before his exit, or was there something else going on that we as viewers were not privy to? This is just one of many questions that we fired away at the former MLB star during a conference call on Thursday. His answers were incredibly insightful, and we have such a better idea now as to what happened.

Cartermatt.com – The first thing I want to ask is about what you said [to another interviewer]. Last week, you actually were the person to tell Penner to play the idol?

Jeff Kent – I was. We sat down, and we were trying to get the vote so that we would have a strong six. Denise didn’t want to follow us. Denise wanted to vote with Malcolm, and I couldn’t get her to come over. So I was trying to use every angle in the world to see if Penner wouldn’t have to play the idol, and then right before I went to tribal council I sat down with him, as we did since we shared information a bunch, and I told him ‘they’re coming after you.’ He then decided to play the idol.

In a similar sort of thinking, do you then know why Penner decided to vote for Abi-Maria [rather than Pete’ last night?

I got two thoughts. We were trying to give signals to each other before the vote. I know Penner wanted to split the vote if Pete used the idol, and I was trying to tell Penner that we didn’t have the votes. We can’t split it. Because of that, I believe Penner was doing one of two things: he either thought that there would be enough votes to keep me there, since Skupin was supposed to vote [with me] … The other thing is that Penner tried to play both sides of the fence. He was convinced that Pete might play the idol. In this case I would have went home, which in Penner’s eyes may have been okay, but he would be able to go back to camp and tell Pete ‘hey, I never voted for you. Let’s do something.’

Did you think about ever saying to anyone that you were a former athlete with millions of dollars, just from the standpoint that no one would want to vote for you to win in the end?

I may have thought about that kind of scenario if I ever thought I was going to be a threat to somebody, but never until the last fifteen minutes did I become a threat to anybody. It was never brought up [that I was a target before], and I was too naive to not think that it would happen in that moment. If I was [aware that I was going to be a target], I might have used that. I would have used every trick to save my own butt. I was scrambling to get something done as quick as I could, but it never dawned on me to do something like that. I thought we had six votes going my way.

Finally, did you have any clue that Dawson knew about who you were?

I never knew Dawson knew who I was until I watched the show. We had conversations and she would drop hints about being a sports [fan], but Dawson was sort of a floaty airhead, and I was more worried about Penner because he told me that one of his favorite teams was the Dodgers.

I was really able to play like everybody else, and it was really cool.

What did you think about some of Jeff’s moves on the show, and would you want to see him play again?

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