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Exclusive: Holly Hoffman talks about 'Survivor: Nicaragua'


By Reality TV World staff, 12/22/2010 

Holly Hoffman and allies Matthew "Sash" Lenahan and Chase Rice were on their way to Survivor: Nicaragua's final jury vote, barring a final Immunity Challenge win by Jud "Fabio" Birza, the competition's sole other remaining castaway.

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However, unfortunately for Holly that's exactly what happened -- leading to Holly being voted out of the game and the jury awarding Fabio Survivor: Nicaragua's $1 million grand prize during Sunday night's live finale broadcast.

On Monday, Holly and fellow castaway Dan Lembo talked to Reality TV World about their Survivor: Nicaragua experiences.  Below is Holly's portion of the interview, along with a brief interjection from Dan.

Reality TV World: So were you surprised to be voted out once Fabio won Individual Immunity or did you sense it was coming?

Holly Hoffman: I kind of sensed it. I actually, after he won the last challenge, I sat down and I thought, "Oh, I think it's going to be me." I just had that feeling. Going back to camp, I tried to convince Chase, I said, "We need to get rid of Sash, we need to get rid of Sash." And where I faltered was I should've communicated with Fabio earlier in the game and I didn't.

I put a lot of trust into Sash and Chase, thinking that there's no way Fabio's going to win three challenges in a row. Who would have thought? So, hopefully, I really wanted to make the top three, but I'm not going to look back at that -- last Espada member, last woman standing in the game -- I'm very pleased with the way I finished. 

Reality TV World: Why do you think you were voted out instead of Sash or Chase? Do you think they just considered you a bigger threat to win the jury vote?

Holly Hoffman: You know, I think they did. There were a lot of women on the jury, also me -- even almost giving up the Reward Challenge and getting the tarp and the rice -- that could have worked two different ways. It could have worked for me, and it could have worked against me.

And, I feel like I had a really good comeback in the game, and that's probably how I would have pleaded my case and said, "Look at me where I started and where I finished." But I do feel like they felt that I was a threat, and I do take that as a complement.

Reality TV World: So do you think you would have been able to win the jury vote?

Holly Hoffman: You always hope that you think in the back of your mind that, "I really think I could have won this game," but you just never know in this game what the outcome is going to be.

Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed a scene on the morning of Day 37 where Fabio approached you about going to the Final 3 with him and you seemed a little receptive to the idea until he seemed to tell you he had no plan other than winning immunity.  Was that really the case -- were you really open to allying with him at that point or were you just stringing him along in the game?

Holly Hoffman: I was kind of stringing him along at that point, because in the back of my mind, I remember thinking, "There's no way he's going to win another challenge." And I went over and I talked to Sash about it, and Sash was like, "You know, we're not even going to worry about it. Somebody else -- it's just not going to happen."

So, I just put my trust into Sash and Chase and I thought, "This is the way I'm going to go with it." And I always said that I'm going to go with my gut. I'm always going to follow what I really feel is right, and that's what I did. But I was kind of stringing him along thinking, "There's no possible way that he's going to win another challenge."

Reality TV World: Were you surprised to see Fabio win the jury vote when he made it to the end or was that threesome at the end the result you had been expecting?

Holly Hoffman: I really thought that Fabio was going to win. I was pulling for Chase. Going into Tribal Council, I actually was going to vote for Sash because strategically, I thought Sash played a great game. He was there to play the game. Chase -- he could just never make up his mind -- and he was constantly apologizing.

But then when I got in there, I was really impressed with Chase. I thought, "Wow, he's really here. He really wants to win this game." The whole, "If I win a million dollars, I'm going to give $100,000 to this organization because he lost his father," and so forth -- I was very impressed with him.

And then I thought, you sit there and you're like, "It's over with." You really had to think about who you were going to cast your vote for, and I thought I played almost the entire game with Chase, and that's why I voted for him.

Reality TV World: So you voted for Chase, but you still were expecting Fabio to pull it out?

Holly Hoffman: Yeah, I did. I really thought -- we even had that conversation at camp -- we were like, "It doesn't matter." The three of us talked about that. We said, "If Fabio wins the last challenge, it's not going to matter."

We all felt like he was going to win the game, because who wins? -- He won three in a row, he didn't upset anyone, he was totally under the radar the whole game -- so, how can you beat that?

Reality TV World: How confident were you that [Jane Bright] was going to be the one going home at the Final 6 Tribal Council before [Survivor host Jeff Probst] revealed the votes? Last week’s episode made it look like his pre-vote questions had made you a little nervous.

Holly Hoffman: (laughs) I was like, we he started saying that, I was like, "Jeff, what are you doing here?! Please be quiet!" So I was a little concerned, but going into Tribal Council, I just knew that Jane was going home, and she knew it herself.

Dan Lembo: That was because Chase told her.

Holly Hoffman: Chase told her, well, we all kind of told her. If you remember, it was Chase last night standing there and we told her. And her putting the fire out, and she was very angry, and that was kind of like, "Wow! This is not right." I left the game with, "Hey you know what? This is how I'm leaving the game." Some things are just out of your control.

You can scramble all you want, you can try as hard as you want, but sometimes things just don't go your way. It was scary. When I was in Tribal Council, I was scared because I thought, "Oh my gosh, what if Jeff's putting these thoughts in their heads?" And I just sat there thinking, "I'm doomed."

But, then it just didn't make sense to me, because she wouldn't -- she cast her vote for Sash -- and Dan and Fabio still voted for Jane. So, that just didn't make sense to me. Overall, it didn't.

Reality TV World: Yeah, Jane obviously didn't seem to appreciate the honesty you guys gave her in telling her. Do you think that was one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios?

Holly Hoffman: Absolutely. We were all there to win, and it's a game. Jane, I think she almost felt like we owed it to her to get her to the final three, but Jane was well-liked, she worked really hard and she was a huge threat! But, the whole putting out the fire thing and all that, it's like, everybody leaves the game differently.

And I remember her doing that and thinking, "If I get voted off, that's not how I'm leaving the game, because that's not how I want people to remember how I left the game." So she was very bitter at the end.

Reality TV World: Speaking of leaving the game, how close to quitting did you actually come on Day 5 and how big a role do you really feel Jimmy Johnson played in the fact that you didn't quit?

Holly Hoffman: I'm telling you what, I was ready to -- I was done. I said this is it, bring the helicopters in here, get me outta here -- The whole, not eating for three days and the pouring rain, our shelter kept breaking down, we didn't sleep. Nobody, unless you played this game, you will never understand what this does to your mind.

You get out there -- I double guessed myself and thought, "Why did I do this?" And Jimmy Johnson, sitting there and talking to him, he was a true inspiration to me. And when he looked at me and said, "Had you ever quit anything in your life?" And I said, "Never." And he said, "What would your family think?"

And that just hit me. I thought, "I always tell my kids never quit, always do your best," and here, I would give up? What would they think? And that's when I walked back to camp and I thought, "I have to play this game. That's what I applied for, and that's what I'm here for." So he was a true inspiration in me staying.

Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor: Nicaragua? How did you end up on the show?

Holly Hoffman: I actually applied. I sent in a three-minute video and filled out the application, and I did one video. I had one casting call, and I made it.

Reality TV World: You made it the first time you applied?

Holly Hoffman: First time!

Reality TV World: Wow.

Holly Hoffman: First time I made it -- and I was truly, for me -- I was looking for an adventure and a challenge. When I applied for this show, I said to my husband, "I love Survivor. I want to see if I can get on the show. I want to do something for myself. We've raised all three of our kids. They're all in college.

I volunteer a lot of my time." So, it was truly something for me, and I remember putting my application in the mail and my tape and I walked out to the mailbox, I put it in, and I said, "If God wants me on this show, I'm going to be on the show." And, I made it! I was meant to be on the show, and I loved every minute of it.



(Photo credit CBS)


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