Exclusive: Dan Lembo discusses his 'Survivor: Nicaragua' experience
By Reality TV World staff, 12/22/2010
Dan Lembo made it to Survivor: Nicaragua's final five despite little gameplay and weak performances in the competition's challenges.
However his luck ran out when eventual winner Jud "Fabio" Birza won the game's next Immunity Challenge -- resulting in allies Holly Hoffman, Matthew "Sash" Lenahan and Chase Rice voting Dan out at Survivor: Nicaragua's penultimate Tribal Council session.
On Monday, Dan and Holly talked to Reality TV World about their Survivor: Nicaragua experiences. Below is Dan's portion of the interview, along with some interjections from Holly.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to see Fabio" win or was that what you had been expecting?
Dan Lembo: No. I voted for Fabio.
Reality TV World: But were you expecting him to win?
Dan Lembo: Yeah.
Reality TV World: Because Holly just said she voted for Chase even though she expected him to lose.
Holly Hoffman: (laughs) That's bad isn't it?
Dan Lembo: Anybody who can win three challenges back to back to back, I think deserves to win the game, and he knew he was going home if he didn't win.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised the vote was as close as it was with Chase?
Dan Lembo: Uh, yeah. Very much so.
Reality TV World: Do you think Chase's announcement that he was going to donate $100,000 to charity played any role in why it was so close?
Dan Lembo: No. But he can say what he wants. That doesn't mean he's going to do it.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be voted off when you were, or did you think there was a good chance they might believe your claim that you were the perfect person to take you to the end?
Dan Lembo: They kind of told me I was going home that night. Listen, it was okay. I went far. I went further than, I mean you know, it was really tough. No one knows how tough this game is until they do it. Alright? That's all I can tell you. It's grueling -- the sleep deprivation, the food deprivation, it's really -- and it's, first of all, I had no right in being there.
I had two bad knees, I never slept outside in my life, I hate rain, I hate sand -- as Holly can attest to -- and I just, I didn't apply for the show. Somebody picked me up in a bar and asked me if I wanted to be on the show, and I said, "Yeah."
Reality TV World: So do you really think you would have had no chance of winning if you'd made it to the end or were you just saying that?
Dan Lembo: No, I definitely think I could've won had I made it to the end, because like I said before, I didn't really piss anybody off. As a matter of fact, that's even what they said to me when they said, "Dan, if you go to the final three," Chase said it to me and Sash, "everybody on the jury likes you and you're a real threat when it comes down to voting on the final three." So, they voted me out.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jane Bright on Thursday, she said that she had approached Fabio and yourself about allying with her and forcing a 3-3 tie before she went home...
Dan Lembo: Well we should have voted differently. In retrospect, because all my friends, they said to me, "What are you doing? You were crazy." Because then we could have broken up the alliance with Sash and them.
Reality TV World: Yeah, she said you guys turned her down. Is that accurate?
Dan Lembo: Yeah, I guess so. When you're out there for 37 days, do you think you're really thinking straight 100% percent of the time?
Reality TV World: No -- I gathered that when you were asking Fabio how many votes you needed to stay [when there were only five people left in the game] (laughs)
Dan Lembo: Yeah, right. Listen I was beat. It was tough.
Reality TV World: Why did you turn her down? Was it because you thought you didn't have a chance of beating her at the end?
Dan Lembo: If she would have gotten in, she would've won. There's no doubt about it. That's why she won fan favorite and if she won fan favorite, she would've won the other thing for sure.
Reality TV World: During the show, you said you "Think I'm going to be a lot less spoiled when I get back to New York City" -- how has that played out for you?
Holly Hoffman: (laughs)
Dan Lembo: Never happened.
Reality TV World: (laughs)
Holly Hoffman: I think it's worse.
Reality TV World: When Fabio was attempting to convince Chase to vote out Holly, there seemed to be a point where Chase said he thought you were actually a bigger threat than Holly. Do you think he really believed that or do you think he was just saying whatever he could to try and keep Holly in the game?
Dan Lembo: I think he believed it, but Holly was as much of a threat. Holly did that, the thing when they went on the challenge, and she stayed back and she got the rice and the tarp. That was a big move. Holly thought she was doing it -- she still believes that she did it just to be Holly -- but she did it to get the votes from the jury.
Holly Hoffman: I did not! Dan, that was not true. That didn't even cross my mind. I was so hungry and all I could think of was -- and this is another thing that you need to know -- we were almost out of rice and how many days did we have left? We had 11 or 12 days left and it was kind of hilarious to me because Dan was telling everybody that.
He was like, "Well the only reason Holly did this was for jury votes." But then, he was always the first one to get up and say, "We gotta get up and cook some rice. We gotta eat!" Dan was always the first one to be there and eat the rice, but I was the one that sacrificed going and getting it.
Dan Lembo: I was always the first one to be there to eat the rice?
Holly Hoffman: You were always like, "It's time for us to eat right?!"
Dan Lembo: Yeah, well, I was hungry.
Holly Hoffman: Yeah, but thanks to me, we had the rice.
Dan Lembo: (sighs)
Reality TV World: Before you got voted out, you tried to campaign that Holly being from a small town made her a big threat. Did you believe that or were you just trying to throw things out there to come up with something?
Dan Lembo: I don't know.
Holly Hoffman: (laughs)
Dan Lembo: You guys remember too much. See the problem with you guys is, you're all sitting at home watching it and you're eating and you're having a nice time. We're sitting out there -- you know, I don't -- to be honest, I don't really remember.
Reality TV World: Why do you think your and Fabio's attempt to get Chase and Sash to vote Holly out failed?
Dan Lembo: I don't even know if we really campaigned that hard. I don't know if we even campaigned that hard to get Holly out.
Reality TV World: You were pretty harsh in your final words and said you hated Chase, Holly was a crook, and called Sash a whiny girl and liar. Do you remember saying that?
Dan Lembo: Did I say that last night?
Reality TV World: Yeah.
Dan Lembo: No I think I -- no I couldn't -- no, no. I called Sash as spineless person and that he should get his eye fixed because he's always winking.
Reality TV World: I mean your final words after you got voted out. You said he was a whiny girl and a liar.
Dan Lembo: Oh, I don't remember.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask where all of that [vitriol] was coming from, because we didn't see a lot of that in the show. You really seemed to have a pretty decent relationships while in the game, no?
Dan Lembo: Yeah, well, I was playing the game! So once I was out, I could say what I really felt.
Reality TV World: So you were holding all that in?
Dan Lembo: Yes.
Reality TV World: Wow, good job.
Holly Hoffman: That's amazing.
Reality TV World: (laughs)
Dan Lembo: Because everyone was telling me on the show that this is the Dan we know! Dan's got a big mouth, you know? But I knew having a big mouth there was not going to help me. I mean, that guy [James "Jimmy T" Tarantino], he was just a... oy.
Reality TV World: (laughs)
Dan Lembo: He was, you know. And [Tyrone Davis] was another one. He sat up all night talking, talking, talking.
Reality TV World: What do you both think about the new Redemption Island twist? Do you think it would have had a big impact on how either of you played the game?
Dan Lembo: I think it would have been a big disadvantage for me.
Reality TV World: How so?
Dan Lembo: Because I was staying, I was staying in the-- I think it would have been a problem if I had to go one-to-one on somebody with some sort of physical challenge.
Reality TV World: How about yourself Holly?
Holly Hoffman: For me, I think it would have worked differently. Of course it would have depended on who I would of had to go against. I won an individual challenge, and I was always very close in the challenges, so I think it might have worked in my favor.