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Exclusive: Jacob Derwin talks 'Survivor: Ghost Island' (Part 1)

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/02/2018 

Jacob Derwin was voted out of Survivor: Ghost Island during the second half of Wednesday night's special two-hour premiere episode on CBS.

Jacob, a 22-year-old music teacher from Merrick, NY, was the second castaway eliminated from the game. He was voted out of his Malolo Tribe on Night 6 through a 5-2-1 vote at Survivor: Ghost Island's second Tribal Council session of the season.

James Lim, a 24-year-old business analyst from Los Angeles, CA, received two votes at Tribal, while Michael Yerger, an 18-year-old real estate agent from Knoxville, TN, earned himself one vote from Jacob.

"I put so much work into getting here and the first Tribal I attended, I was voted out," Jacob said in his final words. "I am embarrassed and don't even know if I have a game to be proud of."

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Jacob talked about his short-lived Survivor experience. Below is the first half of what he had to say.

Reality TV World: Were you blindsided by your vote off? And walking into Tribal Council, whom did you think was voting for Michael with you?

Jacob Derwin: I had a pretty good hunch that my plan wasn't going to work. I was hoping it would. I hadn't given up hope entirely, but I wouldn't say it was a blindside. I had a feeling things weren't going to go super well.

The hope was, best case scenario, it would've been five votes on Michael, which was a lot to ask for. It would have been [Stephanie Johnson], [Jenna Bowman], myself, [Laurel Johnson] and James. That was the idea, but unfortunately it was hard to pull that coalition together.

Reality TV World: Why did you have a hunch your fake-idol plan wasn't going to work? Was it because the clue was missing? Because we saw some castaways expressing how a Super Fan of Survivor would not accidentally leave that letter on Ghost Island.

Jacob Derwin: Yeah, (laughs) I mean, look, it was the most feasible excuse I could come up with. I thought about it for many, many hours before the question even came up. But unfortunately there was no way around that one.

But, you know, a fake idol will only get you so far. It doesn't have any power. (Laughs) All it is, is a bluff. That's all you've got! I worked that bluff as hard as I could, but I guess I didn't work it hard enough.

And honestly, not enough people were talking to me -- throughout the entire time I was out there, but in that last day before Tribal, none of the people were talking to me about the plan. Not enough people were checking in with me; not enough people were checking in with each other.

I never even got all five of us together to talk about it. There wasn't enough conversation because people were very apprehensive about working with me from the beginning, and so I knew it was a longshot that I survived.

Reality TV World: Do you think things would've played out different had you not shared the news of your fake idol with Stephanie? And what was your reaction when you found out her intent was just to look for information out of you, not to team up with you?

Jacob Derwin: Me and Stephanie had been talking a lot on Day 1 or 2. She was the first person -- even before the conversation that you saw -- she was probably the only person up to that point who really talked strategy with me at all. We talked about gameplans and long-term strategies.

I fully believe, obviously, that she was playing me, and that's good on her, but we also saw her talk to Jenna about it. That means there was a decent chance that she was actually going to go for it.

I think Stephanie's the type of person who would want to be a member of her own little group rather than a pawn in someone else's game to play. And I saw that in her!

And if I can show someone -- I didn't want to be the guy who was just showing off an idol, because I was literally given an advantage someone got screwed over for because they showed it to somebody.

It doesn't make much sense on paper, but in the moment, you're thinking of any way you can get someone to trust you and any way to prove to somebody I'm worth working with, like, "Here's how far I'm willing to go. Will you please work with me? I will owe my life to you."

And if you noticed, she didn't tell [Brendan Shapiro] about the idol, about the Legacy Advantage! She kept that to herself, so I fully believe she was truly considering it, working with me. It was just about getting that five together, the majority together, and it just wasn't going to happen. 

Reality TV World: Why do you think the tribe ultimately decided to take you out instead of Michael? Do you think the decision was simply to flush your idol if it was real, or do you think it came down to wanted to keep the tribe physically strong?

Jacob Derwin: No, I mean, look, here's the truth: If it was a real idol, I would've played it the moment I got it. I'm not the type of person who's going to go out there and hang onto an idol for as long as I could. I was going to play it the moment I got it, that's the truth.

So Michael, when you look at the two of us, it's a hard, hard pitch, man! (Laughs) The least beloved member of the tribe is trying to take out the most beloved member of the tribe by trying to tell people a swap might come and you want to get rid of strong people quickly.

Like, that's -- and I was trying to get Super Fans to do it with me! That's why I was talking to Laurel and James and Stephanie, because I knew they would be the kind of people who might go for it.

And they thought about it, but it's too risky of a move that early, you know, at the second vote. You want to try to take out one of our biggest assets and you're our liability? It's a hard pitch; it's a hard sell.

Reality TV World: What made you want to target Michael instead of someone like, say, Brendan, who was not only a physical threat but also seemed to be more knowledgeable of the game and a better -- or at least a more vocal -- strategist?

Jacob Derwin: I can tell you the game reason and I can tell you the real reason. I considered both, and I considered [Libby Vincek] too. Anyone in that five I was willing to consider. I talked about it a little bit with Laurel, we chatted about it a little bit. And Laurel had a better relationship with Brendan.

A lot of people had better relationships with Brendan, and we thought we might be able to work him a little more. He was a little more logical and steady, not quite as youthful, right?

The truth is, I didn't like Michael. (Laughs) I mean, the guy did not rub me the right way and I did not rub him the right way. We were not connecting out there, and there was no chance that both of us were going to survive.

One of us was going to take out the other eventually, and if it wasn't now, it was going to be later.

And that's what it is, you know, when you don't connect with someone and they're connecting with everybody else, your thought is, "If I take them out, not only will I be happier, but also I can loosen the people up. I could free up Libby, I could free up Brendan." These are people who would probaby be a little more willing to actually play around.

Reality TV World: Was there an argument that took place between Michael and yourself, or did he just give you a bad vibe in general?

Jacob Derwin: We never talked, not one time. He never once talked to me. I got a little time with once with him and Libby, but it wasn't a very good conversation. I think we just listened to Michael talk about his Chipotle order and Instagram for six days. That's what happened there. The guy talks a lot.

But look, he's clearly better at it than I am. He knew how to connect with people around him and he knew how to connect with people on his tribe, and he did it better than me.

But his teenage tendencies (laughs) were showing a little bit in the things he would discuss around camp, and it definitely urked me a little bit. I don't feel bad about saying this because obviously he wasn't super fond of me either. (Laughs).

Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive Survivor: Ghost Island interview with Jacob Derwin. And to begin reading our interview with Stephanie Gonzalez, click here.

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