Returns Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 8/7c
​Bradley Doesn't Hold Back About His Beef With Donathan And Libby On Survivor: Ghost Island Plus, the latest cast-off talks about being seen as "the villain," his partnership with Kellyn, and what he learned in Fiji.
Posted on Apr 5, 2018 04:10pm

On the latest episode of Survivor: Ghost Island, Bradley Kleihege should have been enjoying steaks and chicken kabobs after a victory at an intense Reward Challenge.

Instead, he found himself frustrated with some of his tribemates as some of their beef came to a head.

STREAM: Full Episodes Of Survivor: Ghost Island On CBS All Access

After losing the Immunity Challenge and heading to Tribal Council, Naviti sent Bradley packing. Now, the latest cast-off dishes on what went wrong, his relationship with Donathan, his problem with Libby, and more.

It seemed like you were completely blindsided last night. What do you think happened? Was there something you missed?

Bradley Kleihege: No, I don't think there was something that I missed. We got back from the challenge and the energy was definitely a little funky around camp. I was a little bit worried, the problem just was I couldn't really find any actual evidence that they were going to flip on me.

So I had to weigh in my head if I was going to try to turn Tribal upside down and see if that could save me, but what I was worried was going to happen was that I was just paranoid and they weren't actually planning to flip on me. And then if I went into Tribal thinking that, I would, in the end, get myself voted out.

So I chose to toe the line and say that everything was great at camp, that everything was fine, and just hope that that's how it was going to turn out. So it was definitely surprising, but I had a feeling in my gut for a little while before that things might not turn out the way I wanted them to.

You seemed to be really losing patience after the Reward Challenge. What was going on internally at that point?

Bradley: It was as simple as people taking a really long time to get ready to cook our steak. It was just sitting out, and it was like 90 degrees in Fiji. We were getting bugs all over our steak and stuff.

Production actually told us, "Hey guys, you might want to start cooking these." [Laughs] People were going to change, going to get water; it was taking a while. I was like, "C'mon guys, let's go. We're getting flies all over our steak! Let's get a move on here." I think it was as simple as that in that case.

Why do you think you were seen as the leader and mastermind of alliances in the earlier days of the season? Was it your intention to come into the game and be that focal point?

Bradley: No, not at all. I never even conceived going in and being the leader of this majority alliance that just votes people off one by one from the minority. That doesn't happen that often in modern Survivor. It's definitely not the point of view that the storytelling is usually done through when you're watching the episode.

I think you naturally picture yourself as not necessarily the underdog, but not as the person that's the ringleader. That's exactly what was happening at Malolo. It was 100 percent Kellyn and I. We were 50/50 running it.

We would decide who we wanted to get rid of, and we'd break apart and then meet the other three individually and then as a group. What we would do is we'd never throw out the name or what we wanted to have happen.

We would wait until one of them started to suggest it and then we would encourage it. That way, they all felt like it was their own idea and so nobody thought they were on the bottom.

Even though they had thrown out ten other ideas that we had shot down, we just picked up on the one that we wanted to have happen. In hindsight, I was probably playing a little too hard, too fast. But overall, I'm pretty happy with how I played.

Last night, Donathan said he was going to let you dig your own grave after you yelled at him during the Reward Challenge. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Donathan in those final days and do you feel like you did dig your own grave?

Bradley: Do I think I dug my own grave? No, I don't. What you didn't really get from last night was that Domenick was perceiving me as a threat. He thought I was voting out the parents. Because Brendan had gone and then Stephanie had gone. He also didn't trust me and Kellyn working together.

He had told people before the second swap that he wanted one of us out. The first chance he got, he was going to try to get rid of one of us. I think the perception from last night's episode will be that I would've been a great goat to take to the end, but what I can say is that that's not how Dom was perceiving me. And really, I don't think anybody was, or at least the majority of people out there at that point.

Dom's a good enough player to know that if I was just annoying people, he would've taken me to the end because I would've been a safe person to sit next to. Because he felt the need to get me out, it sheds a little light on the fact that he did think I was a legitimate threat. So I don't think I dug my own grave.

But did I get along with Donathan? No. The problem with Donathan was that everyone had been building him up from when he pulled the lever in that challenge where James couldn't pull it. But what it was on TV was not exactly what it was in real life.

Donathan sat there saying he couldn't do it for 20 minutes until we practically tossed him in the water and was like "Do it!" And then he becomes this big hero and there's people on Naviti who are congratulating him and all that started to go to his head.

He started as a guy who was like, "Aw, shucks! I'm from Kentucky and never really been anywhere!" And then people are going, "Oh, Donathan, you opened the lever!"

I think the ego just started to grow and it was insufferable. At [last night's] Reward Challenge, we had figured out that if you were in the middle and going to put a block on the stack, you could just let go of the rope, have no tension on it, walk forward, put the block on, walk back with no tension, and then bring tension back on. That worked completely.

And through two times of it falling over, Donathan refused to let any slack on that line while he put the block on it and kept knocking it over. We all were just kind of telling him, "Let it go! You don't need to keep holding it." But he was really combative about it. He was like, "I'll do it my own way. I know how to do it."

It was simple things. Like, I'd go to make rice and he'd come and just start messing with it. It'd be like, "Hey, I'm making rice today. You said you didn't want to make it." He would just look at me and be like, "I can do whatever I want. I know how to make rice. I'm good at this."

The two of us just definitely did not get along.

Libby talked a bit about how you were disrespecting everyone on the tribe and didn't deserve an alliance. How do you respond to that?

Bradley: I mean, Libby's a joke on Survivor. If you're gonna go on Survivor and be Libby, that's fine. That's justice enough. I don't really care too much about that. Anybody that sits there and looks at the camera guys and tries to tell them how they can get rid of their acne scars by using a raw honey mask on their face is just an absolute joke as far as I'm concerned.

You touched on this earlier, but you said at Tribal that everyone gets along swimmingly and that you didn't think you were being argumentative. Did you really feel that way or were you trying to save face? How did you feel watching it back?

Bradley: I definitely got baited into the arguing thing. Probst got me good. He got me in a corner and I put my foot in my mouth. What you didn't see was me try to explain my way out of the corner, which is totally fine, it makes better TV.

Like you said, it was completely trying to save face because I had that pit in my stomach and was like, "I don't know if everything is good here." I had to go with it and that's what I decided to do.

It was tough to watch back because in that moment and in that situation, I didn't have any room to maneuver. I still to this day don't think I did. I can't figure out a scenario or how I could've played it, or how I could've persuaded anybody to try and have it turn out differently. I really can't.

What would you say you learned about yourself during your time on Survivor?

Bradley: One of the big things was that I have a really hard time living in the moment. I'm always thinking about what's next. And on Survivor, it was really cool because I was so 100 percent in the moment. So I've definitely been better about that since I got back.

I've definitely been better about putting in the effort to get to know people. My goal going into Survivor was to, on the first day, have a conversation with every person on original Naviti. That's true with all of the swaps; I wanted to have a conversation with everybody, every day, and figure out what makes them passionate, what makes them special, and then ask them questions about it. Even though it may not look like it, I think I did learn quite a bit about some of those social skills.

I would also just say that one of the coolest parts of Survivor was getting to meet everybody without technology. Now, you meet somebody and immediately look them up on Facebook or Google them. You know their whole life story before you even have to ask them any questions.

What's so cool about Survivor is we had none of that. We only knew what the person had told us about themselves. I wasn't able to just click and within five minutes be like, "Oh, I've got this person figured out." There was intrigue and nuance to it that I think is lost in our modern-day social and technological world, and that was so cool.

Is there anything you would do differently if you could do it all over again?

Bradley: I'm pretty happy with the way I played. I'm happy with the way I was portrayed. I went in wanting to be the villain, I wanted to make the show as entertaining as possible and I think I did that. So I guess not. I'm pretty happy with what I did, I think I just got into a situation that i couldn't get myself out of.

Watch all-new episodes of Survivor: Ghost Island on Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.