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Joe's Bold Fake Out Ends In His Own Survivor Farewell: Who is he rooting for and what's his status with Jenn?
Posted on Apr 16, 2015 08:30am

John Cochran, simply known as "Cochran" to Survivor fans, competed on the show during Season 23 and walked away as Sole Survivor on Season 26. After the most recent castaway Joe Anglim had his torch snuffed by Jeff Probst, Cochran sat down with the former Survivor player for a Q&A. Read on to hear how the interview played out.


By John Cochran

Well, it was only a matter of time. From the moment he stepped foot on the No Collar beach, the multi-talented, majestically-maned Joe Anglim was identified as the single greatest threat to win the game. And with good reason: as his post-merge challenge dominance demonstrated, Joe excels at pretty much everything… except, unfortunately, securing himself in a strong alliance. When Joe’s immunity streak came to its untimely end, not even the most gorgeous fake idol in Survivor history could save him. The day after his tragic elimination, Joe and I discussed the downsides of being a challenge beast, Survivor arts and crafts, and island romance.

Cochran: Over the past couple months, I’ve asked most of the booted castaways who they viewed as the biggest threat in the game. Virtually every single person — regardless of whether they even got a chance to play with you — said “Joe.” Did you expect this to be your reputation in the game, and did you do anything to change this perception of you?

Joe: On my CBS bio, where it asks “Who do you see yourself playing the game as,” I knew, just from a physical standpoint, that I was going to be a Malcolm or Ozzy, just based on appearance alone. But then, as soon as the first challenge hit, I just did it to myself and put that huge target on my back. So, it was what it was. I realized, “Oh crap, I’ve gotta change my whole game plan.” Because there was no hiding it. But yeah, it was tough.

Cochran: And what about you? We heard so much talk about you being the game’s biggest threat, but never got a chance to find out who you were afraid of. What players did you feel most threatened by?

Joe: I was never really intimidated by anybody. But in the order of who I would vote out, it would be myself, then Mike, then Tyler. Just based on who would be a challenge threat in a merge situation. But everyone out there knew the game, and everyone was playing their hands. It was hard, being in the position I was, to pitch ideas to people. I’d say “Come on, let’s work together,” but anything I said fell on deaf ears — they just wanted me to be out of the game. It was clear that if I lost, they’d be writing my name down. But I do think that anyone out there has a chance to win. As you know, every day’s a different day. Everyone’s a threat, man.

Cochran: The No Collar alliance has been described in a variety of ways. Dan told Shirin that everyone viewed her, Hali, and Jenn as your minions. I spoke with Hali last week, though, and she implied that she and Jenn were the true brains behind the operation, while you were kind of an outsider. What was your take on the alliance?

Joe: I knew the girls were obviously super tight, and they were the power couple within our tripod. And if I’m them, then Joe’s gone as well. So I wouldn’t say that I really viewed myself as at the top of the tower, but in terms of how everyone else was seeing it, I think that would make sense. I’m the guy at the challenges who’s doing very well. But we were all on a pretty even keel. We all knew what moves we should all make. We would talk about who was the biggest threat — like, is it going to be Mike or Kelly? Who’s got more hooks in people? Who’s talking to people? We would hash through things, but I knew that if I didn’t win, they’d be coming.

Cochran: Let’s go back to last week, when you won the zip line reward and invited the swing vote players to join you, ostensibly to win them over. By the time that reward ended, did you feel as though you’d made any headway with Tyler, Carolyn, Will, and Shirin? And — as a followup — a secret scene on CBS.com showed Jenn blasting your selections for the reward trip. Do you think you lost favor with her as a result of your choices?

Joe: So for the first part of your question, I actually almost took Rodney because, the day before, I’d said “Yo, if I win reward, I’ll take you.” Because I knew Rodney was motivated by food, so I was hoping to curry some favor with him. But he kind of messed it up and opened his mouth, and I really couldn’t pick him when Jeff’s saying “Oh, so you’re obviously not taking Rodney; who else are you choosing?” It’d make me look bad if I took Rodney. But I still wasn’t sure about any of those other votes. I knew Carolyn and Tyler were still the White Collars — they’re up-in-the-air votes. Will and I really hadn’t talked since the merge, and he was hanging out with Rodney a lot, so I was getting nervous. And then Shirin — I really wanted to take someone who’d really enjoy that experience, and I know she did. And I also still wasn’t sure about Shirin, because I knew she was so eager and ready to play, and I think she was willing to do whatever it took to get where she wanted to. So I wanted to lock her in with us, which I think I did for that vote. And then, for the second part, to say that Jenn was mad at me? Absolutely. She was pissed. But she was still willing to give me a necklace, even though I didn’t give her some pizza.

Cochran: The other big element of that reward was that it led to you slurping up the clue to the hidden immunity idol. Unfortunately, you were spotted by Tyler, with whom you eventually shared the clue. Looking back, do you regret that decision, since it ultimately paved the way for Mike to find the idol for himself?

Joe: I feel like it was a good option if Mike doesn’t follow us. Because in Tyler not exposing me in that moment, it gave me leverage against Tyler, against the people he’s aligned with. By saying “Oh, so Tyler didn’t tell you about the clue?” I could make them not trust Tyler. But, on the flip side of that, I didn’t have anybody. I needed somebody, and in my tier — of myself, Mike, and Tyler — I could tell Tyler, “Yo, they’re coming for you, dude. Whether you like it or not, they’re coming for the strong people, so we should align. Let’s work together and go find this idol.” But he kind of blew the lid and just told Mike everything, so it was unfortunate, to say the least.

Cochran: Let’s go back to last night. After your team lost the reward challenge, you expressed your frustration with Jenn’s complaining and defeatist attitude towards Survivor, saying, “This is what we signed up for.” Was that a sincere emotional moment, or was there a strategic element of trying to turn players against Jenn?

Joe: At that point, it was both. It was something that I felt and, at the same time, I was trying to put targets on anyone but myself. So if she doesn’t want to be here, you know what? Go home! Let people who want to be here play. It was a little bit strategic and a little bit emotional. Because you know how many people want to play this game?

Cochran: Do you think Jenn really intended to give you her immunity necklace if she were to win the challenge? Or was that a promise made in a fleeting moment of weakness?

Joe: If she had the necklace on… we really will never know. I don’t think she would if she had it. But saying it, I really and truly did believe she would have, just in terms of screwing everybody else over, because that was her thing. She was just kind of upset with everybody and she lost her friend and I think she wanted to be hanging out with Hali at Ponderosa. And she was thinking, since Joe wants to be here, I’ll give this necklace to Joe and you all will have to deal with him for another week. So I think there was a part of her that, yeah, I think she might’ve given it me. I mean, god, I wish she would’ve won it and then maybe you would be sitting here having a completely different conversation.

Cochran: Even though you were voted out last night, some congratulations are in order: I think it’s pretty indisputable that you created the best fake immunity idol ever. Only Bob Crowley’s in “Gabon” gives you any competition. Last night, you alluded to the fact that you’d hidden your idol-making supplies long in advance. When did you come up with this scheme?

Joe: I mean, I’ve had that idea since I was a kid. I thought, why is this not done more? But, during the game, as soon as we were back at our camp, I was looking for anything and everything. You know, seashells, rocks — what can I use to make something out of nothing? Once we hit the merge, we had all the merge items; we had little trinkets; we had the fishing box. So I’d taken little bits and pieces of stuff and started stockpiling it and buried it in the dirt, hoping I wouldn’t need to use it, but having it in case I did.

Cochran: On the subject of your fake idol, how confident were you that Mike believed it was real when you handed it over at the beginning of Tribal Council? Were you optimistic that your plan would work?

Joe: I was trying to be as confident in my plan and my body language as possible to convince him “Hey, this is real.” But what would I really do in this scenario if it was real? I would’ve played it for myself. And I think that’s the one thing that hurt me. But I do think I made him think about it. I think there was a part of Mike that truly thought “Maybe…” Because he asked Jeff! I don’t think he would’ve asked Jeff if he knew it was fake. Maybe in hindsight, if I’d given it to Rodney or Will, who knows? It could be a whole different game. It was kind of like bluffing with a big bluff. I almost over-bluffed it and hoped that Mike might bite. Like, “Yo, Mike, you’re next to go after me, so let’s work together.” But, nope. Nobody wanted to play with Joe.

Cochran: You said it yourself last night — you really didn’t have anyone supporting you in the game. And the one person who did, Jenn, was eager to quit. Given all that, once you were eliminated, who were you rooting for?

Joe: I was kind of rooting for everybody, to be completely honest. As you know, it’s fun to watch that little snake in the grass wait for their opportunity, and then they strike and they seize it. So that’s what I was rooting for. And it could’ve been anyone. I’m thinking, we’ve got nine people — any of them can win this game. I was rooting for them all. We’ve got a good crew; crazy characters.

Cochran: You also mentioned last night that you’d been waiting to play Survivor all your life. Given that lifelong fandom, I assume you take the responsibility of being on the jury very seriously. What qualities do you like to see in a Survivor winner?

Joe: I really look for self-awareness. Anyone can claim they made moves and make the moves, but I want to hear where you were at in the game, and — knowing where you were — what did you do to change that course or alter your destiny? Was it gameplay? Was it just embracing your role as that “Oh, I’m disliked by everybody, so I’m just going to keep being disliked to get to the end.” Whatever it is, own your game, but at the same time, explain yourself. Why do you deserve it more than the other two people here? What are you going to do with the money? Paint me a picture and earn my vote.

Cochran: Let’s finish with something a little less serious. Much earlier in the season, it seemed like Vince the coconut salesman felt there was something of a love triangle developing between you, him, and Jenn. Was there a brewing Survivor romance? After all, Survivor does have a better track record with relationships than any dating show out there.

Joe: The game is afoot, my friend. (Laughs) No, no. You know what? I love Jenn. She’s a dear friend. We’ve spent a lot of time together since we got done filming, and she’s like an older sister. But she’s younger than me. There was never any romance on the island. Maybe we played it a little bit, but no, I love her like a sister. It’s all gravy.

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