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Exclusive: David Ball talks about his 'Survivor: Samoa' experience


By Christopher Rocchio, 12/11/2009 

David Ball claims his efforts to get a former Foa Foa member to flip to save his own skin ultimately proved unsuccessful and led to his ouster.

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The 38-year-old fitness instructor from Los Angeles, CA became the thirteenth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Samoa during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.

On Friday, Dave talked to Reality TV World about which Foa Foa member he targeted as a potential flipper; why he thinks Shannon "Shambo" Waters had a problem with him; who he feels is the best remaining castaway in the competition; and how he really feels about Russell Hantz.

Reality TV World: Since the vote to eliminate you was 7-1, I'm assuming you must have had some idea that the effort to target Shambo had proved unsuccessful even before the votes were revealed, right?

Dave: That is correct.

Reality TV World: Okay, so how did you find out?

Dave: A couple different ways. [Mick Trimming] said, "Hey man, you're a strong competitor. You deserve better than a blindside. Good job, good game." He shook my hand. That was an indicator. And the fact that [Brett Clouser] had the idea, "We can vote for you and write down 'Danger Dave Ball' to drive traffic to your wesbite." I said, "Genius! Let's go down in flames!"

Reality TV World: Well I guess that explains why Brett and Monica Padilla voted for you.

Dave: Correct.

Reality TV World: The show made it look like your decision to question how long Shambo boiled the chickens was what put you next on her hit list.  Do you feel that's accurate and if so, how much further do you think you could have gone if you hadn't done that?

Dave: I feel that is inaccurate. I was on her hit list way before that. Obviously, she wanted to vote me off last week.

Reality TV World: Okay, but the incident with boiling the chickens happened last week. So why do you think you were on her hit list if it wasn't that?

Dave: Oh we boiled the chickens two weeks ago? Alright. Fair enough. Because I represented confidence and social adeptness. That was difficult for her because she could only hate that rather than attain it.

Reality TV World: Did you ever try to bury the hatchet with Shambo?

Dave: Of course, you even saw me say, "Hey, Shambo, we're trying to take you to the end." Even times off-camera I'm like, "Shambo, Final 3. Seriously. I'm not kidding. It's not to late." She's like, "Yeah, it's too late." She was more interested in battling imaginary demons by knocking real people out than actually playing the game.

Reality TV World: We saw [Jaison Robinson] tell Brett and Monica about Russell being a multi-millionaire at the beginning of last night's episode. Was that something they ever shared with you and, if so, did you ever consider blindsiding him?

Dave: Uh... I don't recall.

Reality TV World: You don't remember?

Dave: Yeah, I don't recall whether that was shared with me or not.

Reality TV World: Okay, did you ever consider blindsiding Russell? Was it simply that you thought him staying was your best chance of staying in the game?

Dave: No. Russell is the most dangerous player in the game -- that's why I got voted out ultimately. Honestly, Russell doesn't care what Shambo wants. He's going to wherever he wants to go, especially when it's 4-to-4 -- four Foa Foa versus four Galu, and that includes Shambo. He knows Shambo's going to vote for me no matter what, so it doesn't matter what me, Brett and Monica vote for. Foa Foa's going to vote whoever they want off at any given time.

I knew this and went and tried to get Jaison to flip because he bought at Survivor auction an advantage for the Immunity Challenge, which told me that he felt like he was low man on the pole. Now if he wasn't low man on the pole, than it was just a stupid move to waste all your money for an advantage on an Immunity that you don't need to win.

So I figure he must be low man on the pole, so I went to him and I gave him a speech that would make virgin's lift their skirts. It was brilliant. I'm serious. But friggin' Jaison would not flip.

We even threw [John Fincher] under the bus as a symbol of trust for Jaison to get him to flip, but he still wouldn't do it -- which I thought was cowardly and gutless. But who knows? Maybe he had other moves.

Reality TV World: Last week's episode and this week's episode both showed Russell kind of giving you a hard time about how you didn't approach him about trying to save yourself from being voted off.  Did you just feel resigned to your fate at that point or was there some other reason why you didn't really seem to do any scrambling?

Dave: What was the question again?

Reality TV World: Russell gave you a hard time about not approaching him to save yourself from being voted off.  Did you just feel there was no way to save yourself or was there some other reason why you didn't really seem to do any scrambling?

Dave: I wasn't seeking out Russell's help because he's the most dangerous player in the game and we need to get him out. I assumed that everyone else would see that and recognize that if they made it to the Final 3... I was still under the hope that Jaison would flip. Jaison didn't stand a chance against Russell at the final Tribal, and I told him that.

I said, "Are you playing this game to win, or not? Because if you're playing this game to win, Russell's got to go dude. Apparently by your play at Survivor auction, he's not even taking you to Final 3. Brett and I on the other hand will take you to the Final 3 and you can believe it because we're not scared of you. We're pretty sure we can beat you. So we'll take you, we don't care. It sounds like he won't even take you. So use your brain dude. Do the smart thing, flip, we burn Russell and we waltz into the Final 3. Piece of cake."

And then Jaison says, "Well, what if I want to bring Mick in?" Great! Bring him in! I know I can burn all of you guys to the ground in a fire-making challenge. Bring it on. You bet. Mick's in too.

But nothing materialized because no one was playing the game.

Reality TV World: A few of the other eliminated castaways we've talked to have said you made several spur-of-the-moment decisions out there, most notably with Erik Cardona's elimination. Would you agree with that assessment? Do you think you made decisions quickly without putting much thought into them?

Dave: I had been considering voting for Erik for three days before we got rid of him -- since the fishing challenge. He had been in and out of our circle of trust repeatedly and his main problem is he was taking strategic cues from Fincher, who doesn't know how to play the game.

Reality TV World: What about the spur-of-the-moment criticism? Do you think that's inaccurate?

Dave: Well... I was thinking about burning Erik for three days. Does that sound spur of the moment?  It kind of answers the question.

Reality TV World: We also heard from Laura Morett that you let your emotions get the best of you sometimes. Was that something you think hurt you during the competition?

Dave: Letting your emotions get the best of you to its extreme makes you Shambo. So it's never good. That's why Brett's the smartest player in the game because he never, ever let his emotions get out of control. I am more hot-headed -- so there were definitely moments that I could have responded better.

I mean ignorant, ignorant things. We'd be sitting around the fire and we'd be talking about challenges or something. We were talking about the gross food eating challenge. And I was like, "That was a piece of cake." Shambo -- in an effort to sound smart -- was like, "Well you seemed to have a pretty hard time with it!" I was just like, "I was faking Shambo," kind of snide.

That's one of the drawbacks of being smart is when whatever idiot decides they're going to prove that they're smarter than you are, it's just all to easy to quickly shut that down and not in a very helpful manner. So there were definitely moments when my temper got the best of me, although I will say as a whole I did a spectacular job considering who I am as a person.

Seriously, you should have heard some of my radio interviews this morning. There are radio deejays from coast-to-coast who hate Danger Dave Ball now because they thought they were funny but man they came into contact with someone who really knows how to cut!

Reality TV World: When we talked to John last week, he claimed that he would have been able to turn Shambo against Foa Foa and save all the remaining Galu if you guys had let him know that Russell had decided to vote him off instead of voting you off like Shambo wanted... 

Dave: (laughing loudly)

Reality TV World: That was the reaction I was expecting. So obviously you don't believe that?

Dave: Everything John says is suspect because it's based in his ego reality.

Reality TV World: Before Russell played the Hidden Immunity Idol that led to [Kelly Sharbaugh's] ouster, Monica and John seemed to have been worried that he might have found it and tried to convince you to target [Natalie White] instead of him at that Tribal Council but you seemed to overrule them.  Why were you so dismissive of their concerns?

Dave: That's an excellent question. Like I said, there are times that are fuzzy and I'm like, "What happened? I can't really remember." So I'm sure there are a million other things that none of us saw on television, and I don't remember in detail what they are.

I can see being dismissive, but the thing is he who hesitates is lost. I felt like Russell was the most dangerous player. I felt like we needed to get him out first. We won a Reward Challenge and won the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol, but we never had a shot at the Hidden Immunity Idol because he found it before we even got back from Reward.

I'm pretty sure that this is the first season where the person who won the clue actually didn't even have an opportunity to find it. On the other side of that, Laura looked for that idol in the same place in an extraordinarily similar timeframe. So go figure.

Reality TV World: You've already mentioned Brett a little bit, but up until last night he's basically been non-existent this season for viewers. What's your take on Brett as a player?

Dave: Best player in the game.

Reality TV World: Interesting. Is it because he's keeping a low profile out there too?

Dave: No, he's incredibly smart. If you remember the challenge that we did with Natalie flying around on a platform.

Reality TV World: Yeah, I remember that.

Dave: Yeah, it was a schoolyard pick. Laura was team captain and the very first person she picked was Brett. That's exactly who I would have picked too. Then I was like, "Ooh, Monica's going to pick me." Then I knew I wasn't going to win because Brett's on the other team.

Brett and I are both great at puzzles -- he is better at the more spatial puzzle, like the fishing challenge puzzle. Honestly, I looked over at the Foa Foa board and got the answer -- I mean Foa Foa was way ahead of us on that puzzle -- and I just looked back and was like, "Oh my gosh, that's the answer." I showed the answer to Brett, and Brett was off like a shot -- bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. He owned the challenge.

There were definitely several moments during that challenge that I was crucial, but on the other hand during that digital coconut challenge where we had those bars with the coconuts that were painted different colors and we had to create a number and figure it out and communicate it to Monica up on the platform, I was the one who owned that because I'm more of a digital, numbers kind of puzzle thing.

So we were an extraordinary team and the guy's just so smart. And he's better at the social game then I am. He's the only one in the Final 2 or 3 who could have given me a run for my money. Everybody else I could have destroyed.

Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed a lot of the other castaways talking about what they felt their jury votes would be based on.  What criteria did you think was important deciding who deserved the $1 million?

Dave: Who played the best game.

Reality TV World: Simple as that?

Dave: Simple as that. You've got to understand there are several different types of games going on and who plays the best game -- there's a social game, there's a challenge game, a camp game, a strategy game -- there's a whole bunch of different things.

So you just kind of have to bring it all together and say ultimately in what order of importance am I going to put each one of these separate types of gamesmanship in, and then out of that complex formula who do I feel did the best job.

Reality TV World: During your Final Words you claimed that you all "underestimated" Russell. What about Shambo? Do you think she's not getting enough credit for the way she's been playing the game?

Dave: She's getting far too much credit. She's not playing the game, she's just lashing out.

Reality TV World: So what about the comment that you "underestimated" Russell? Based on our conversation, it sounds like you had a pretty clear idea of the dangerous player he was.

Dave: I think I was just trying to be gracious.

Reality TV World: Was there anything you think you could have done during that Tribal Council to save yourself?

Dave: No.

Reality TV World: How were you cast for Survivor: Samoa? Was it your first time applying for the show?

Dave: I was an alternate for Survivor: China. A friend of mine was working for casting and he got me an interview and I went through the interview process and they liked me and they made me an alternate for Survivor: China. Then that didn't happen and they kept me on the short list up until they found a season they felt suited Danger Dave Ball.

Check back with Reality TV World on Monday for our exclusive interview with Monica Padilla, the other former Galu tribe member voted out of the game on Thursday night's Survivor: Samoa broadcast!



(Photo credit CBS)


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