Exclusive: Jay Byars talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/13/2012
Jay Byars, a 25-year-old model from Gaffney, SC, was eliminated from Survivor: One World's merged Tikiano tribe during Wednesday night's ninth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.
Jay was voted out of his tribe at the season's ninth Tribal Council session, the third session for the mixed-gender tribe since the merge, after he was completely blindsided by the alliance he had fully trusted and expected to go far in the game with.
On Thursday, Jay talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World experience -- including why he didn't try to force a tie at the Tribal Council vote by convincing the men to band together, what he believed would have ended up happening if a tie-vote had occurred, why he opted to quit the Immunity Challenge and eat chicken considering he was worried the entire time the women might turn on him, what his general impressions were of Kim Spradlin and Chelsea Meissner during the game and whether his opinion of them changed after discovering they had lied to and betrayed him, and how he surprisingly ended up on Survivor: One World.
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Jay. Click here to read the first half.
Reality TV World: Christina Cha -- who doesn't even really seem to be in the women's alliance -- wasn't willing to go along with Troy "Troyzan" Robertson's plan to vote off Kim Spradlin. Did that surprise you? Because it seemed like you guys could have had five votes there and been able to pull something off.
Jay Byars: Yeah, I mean, going back and looking at it and watching it, obviously I'm like, "Man. I should've jumped onboard with Troy. That way I could have pulled [Leif Manson] in and I also could have worked with [Greg "Tarzan" Smith]."
But up until that point, me and Troy had never really sat down and talked strategy together literally. We just didn't get along. We respected each other and didn't have beef, but we just never talked strategy together. And obviously, you didn't see us working together or me part of an all-guy alliance. So, that's the game for you.
Reality TV World: Given the women split their votes, it seemed like you guys could have at least forced a tie vote between Alicia Rosa and yourself if just the four guys had stuck together and all voted for Alicia. Were you aware of that strategy at the time, and if not, did realizing that whenever you did realize it make your vote-off sting a little worse?
Jay Byars: Well, I mean, I really did not see us four voting together. Did I see maybe a few swing votes helping us out like maybe [Chelsea Meissner] still voting for Alicia or [Sabrina Thompson] or [Kat Edorsson]? Yeah. I should have talked with Christina but I never talked with Christina, so I was definitely at least hoping for a tie or something. Troy was playing his idol.
Reality TV World: It looked like you guys could have forced a vote where both you and Alicia would receive four votes. So what do you think would have happened on a re-vote if it had been a tie? Do you think all the women would have suddenly voted for you and you still would have been voted off?
Jay Byars: Yeah, unfortunately, I really do. I think they saw me as a physical threat and that I could go on an immunity run once I saw it wasn't my alliance against whoever. So I definitely think I would have went home at the time I chose not to vote for Kim.
Reality TV World: So you think getting Christina or Chelsea or one of the other women to join you and avoid a tie scenario was really the only way you would have been able to make it out of that Tribal?
Jay Byars: I think so.
Reality TV World: You were shown telling Kim that Troy was trying to go around and rustle up votes for her, and they showed a shot of him approaching Christina. Was there anybody else you thought he was trying to convince to go along with him?
Jay Byars: Um, no. He seemed to want to swing towards Christina and Tarzan, and like I said, I don't think anybody -- I think Troy was on my page with Alicia as far as knowing she would go with the girls or guys. I just don't think he trusted her a whole lot like me and I think everything happened so fast that time. Literally, everything hit the fan the night before we left.
Reality TV World: One critical move you made in the game was when when you seemed to intentionally quit the Immunity Challenge for chicken and beer. Did you really quit on purpose or could you just not take it any longer and just made it look like you were quitting?
Jay Byars: No, well, my mentality was that I really thought I was safe that night, so I chose to step down thinking, "Well, I could eat the food and be a little bit stronger for the next challenge." But literally, it was not about the food. I wasn't starving. I wasn't in dire need to step down because I was so tired or anything like that. I literally thought that I was safe for that night.
Reality TV World: One of the women said you didn't even like beer when you quit...
Jay Byars: That was Chelsea.
Reality TV World: (Laughs) Is that true, and if so, what made you quit for that particular reward instead of something else?
Jay Byars: It was just, literally I was thinking, "Alright, I'm safe. If I'm going to not go home, I might as well at least get some food if it was presented to us."
So literally, I made the dumb mistake of thinking past that night's vote, and once I did that, I was thinking, "Well, I'm safe so I can eat the food. I can not win this Immunity Challenge, so it looks like I can be beat even more." So I just literally looked past that night's vote and that was my mistake.
Reality TV World: What was your general opinion of Kim while you were in the game, and how has it changed after you learned she turned on you and you've now gotten to see the episodes on TV?
Jay Byars: Man, I thought Kim was like -- I knew everybody would be lying and everyone would be deceiving and what not, but I really thought I could trust her in the game once we started talking more one on one and within our alliance.
And just seeing her do such a great job of looking people in the eye and lie straight to their face, I mean, I applaud her. So, that was really, I guess, eye opening to watch behind the scenes.
Reality TV World: What about Chelsea? Same question -- what were your about thoughts of her while in the game and then how have they changed after finding out she turned on you and you got to see it on TV. She seemed to have more difficulty lying to you.
Jay Byars: Yeah. (Laughs) I thought her line was awesome. She really likes me and wants me to stay around but she likes money more. (Laughs) So when I saw that, I was like, "Wow, what a traitor!"
But no, in the game, I chose to trust those people once I sat down and talked strategy with them. Like I said, I felt like once you get to a certain part of the game, you have to have somebody you can trust. Obviously, Kim and Chelsea were close up to that point. I didn't really have that with the guys, so that's why I went with the girls and look what happened.
Reality TV World: Did you think Kim and Chelsea were the ones running the show out there, because it's come across in the episodes, like they have been in charge.
Jay Byars: Yeah, we kind of thought that they might be in charge of their four and five group alliance, and they seemed to be the most level-headed at the merge. Even when we were old Salani, or the new Salani. Again, I wanted to work with somebody that was smart. I wanted to keep them close and do damage with them and not have to work against them. That's what I wanted to do.
Reality TV World: Sabrina seemed to be one of the major players among the women at the beginning of the season, but her screen time has really faded as the season has progressed and now she seems to have almost fallen off the map in the episodes on TV. What are your thoughts on that -- did you consider her to be a significant player while you were out there?
Jay Byars: I did. Coming into the Salani thing, I would have -- and I did have her -- on the same page as Kim and Chelsea. In my book, she was just as somebody I could trust and work with against whoever. She was part of that core group that I really thought would kick off the new Manono. She seemed to be a super smart strategic player -- the part that I spent with her.
Reality TV World: The last few weeks had featured been quite a bit of talk about the "dead weight" on the tribe. Just to clarify, who did you consider to be the tribe's dead weight? Was it Leif, Tarzan, Alicia, and Christina? Was it Kat as well?
Jay Byars: Well, yeah, your first four. I think Tarzan, Leif, Christina, and Alicia. It was this whole idea that me, Troy, Kim, and Chelsea -- we had this idea that we deserved to be there and we were playing the hardest and we were going to fight the hardest for it.
We wanted to be surrounded by those types of people, so let's just send the dead weight home. "They shouldn't be here if they're not pulling their weight around camp" and blah, blah, blah. That was kind of the mentality and the talk and I fell for it.
Reality TV World: In your final words, you said you had a great time and wouldn't trade it for the world. Does that mean you don't have any regrets and wouldn't do anything differently if you had the chance?
Jay Byars: Obviously, I wouldn't step down for a freaking challenge if I knew (laughs) there were repercussions I had to take, but I mean, hindsight's 20/20.
So looking back, I had a freaking awesome time. I don't have any hard feelings towards anybody. I consider myself blessed and honored just to be a part of Survivor and have the chance to play, so it was all positive for me.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode began with you talking about how you'd had a weird dream in which you were shot, and in hindsight, it seemed like the editors included it because they thought it foreshadowed your vote-off. What did you think about that dream at the time -- did you think it was significant or foreshadowing anything?
Jay Byars: No, I definitely did, man. I woke up and after I had that dream, I woke up with this eerie feeling. I had it all day. I walked off and spent some time -- some quiet time in the morning -- just talking and trying to gather my thoughts.
I was like, "Man, something is just not right today." I just had that gut feeling like, "It's not going to be a good day for you." So there was something subconscious that was going on.
Reality TV World: But it had obviously faded by the time Tribal Council came a couple days later, right?
Jay Byars: Yeah.
Reality TV World: I saw you did an interview before the season began with a local Charlotte newspaper in which you said you put on an extra 25 pounds before competing on the show.
Jay Byars: Yeah.
Reality TV World: Is that really true -- that seems like a lot of weight -- and if so, how much weight did you end up losing while you were on the show?
Jay Byars: I literally pretty much lost every one of those pounds. I started working out with my buddy, who's a personal trainer, and he used to body-build. So I was like, "Dude, I need to be as big and strong as possible." I was like, "I need some muscle on me. I need to bulk up."
And literally man, I trained my butt off for about two-three months. All I did was eat and work out and I literally trained. I put on about 20 pounds -- it was just that 25 pounds. And then when I stepped on the scale, I had lost every one of those pounds.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor: One World? How did you end up on the show?
Jay Byars: Well, I actually applied for The Amazing Race and then I got a phone call back like two years later because they saw my video and I think they were kind of full for the Race. So they asked me, would I be interested in Survivor? And I was like, "Heck yeah. How do I freaking apply? I'll do anything."
Reality TV World: Who did you apply for The Amazing Race with?
Jay Byars: This girl from my church -- a girl named Heather. I met her on a mission trip coming back from Malaysia and I found out she's a huge Race fan. She knew I had started modeling and she's like, "I want to use your face for something."
I'm like, "Alright, what?" And she was like, "Will you do the Race with me?" And I was like, "Heck yeah. Let's try it." When she found out about Survivor, literally, she just walked away, came back in tears, and was like, "I don't want to speak to you for a few days."
Reality TV World: That's why I was asking. (Laughs) Whoever it was must have been pretty upset that they called you instead of them. (Laughs)
Jay Byars: She was not a happy camper!
Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Jay. Click here to read the first half.