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Exclusive: Jerry Sims talks about his time on 'Survivor: Tocantins'


By John Bracchitta, 02/27/2009 

To say Jerry Sims' stomach was bothering him during his time on Survivor: Tocantins would be something of an understatement.

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After nine days in the Brazilian highlands, Jerry couldn't hide that he was in pain from a lingering stomach bug that he couldn't kick from his tribemates any more, causing the 49-year-old U.S. Army sergeant from Rock Hill, SC to be voted out of the CBS reality show.

On Friday, Jerry spoke to Reality TV World about what how long (and how serious) the stomach ailment that resulted in his elimination really was, why he felt that Brendan Synnott would be a better for the Timbira tribe than Benjamin "Coach" Wade, and how he supported his claim that his time on Survivor was harder than the time he spent overseas in Afghanistan.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be voted off?

Jerry: Uh, not really. Not really, I mean under my condition I kinda felt like it was gonna get me [eliminated].
 
Reality TV World: So does that mean you really hadn't believed [Tyson Apostol's] claim that no one had been talking about voting you off?

Jerry: No. I mean, I heard what he said but really I didn't because we had plotted the same way against [Sierra Reed] when she was sick and we didn't know it. But we were gonna vote her off with no problem. So I kinda figured that I would be the one under the radar that night.
           
Reality TV World: Besides the conversation with Tyson [and the situation with Sierra], was there anything else in particular that kind of tipped you off?

Jerry: Not really. I don't know, I don't think so. I mean everybody else acted normal as soon as they came back around the camp. And I was hanging around the camp a lot when the guys disappeared.

Reality TV World: Last night’s episode didn't show any of the show’s medics ever coming to visit you or anything like that. Could you go into some more detail about exactly what was wrong with you?

Jerry: I had a stomach bug, a stomach virus or something. It lasted from around Day 4 'til Day 9 and I couldn't shake it. I mean, I couldn't eat much, I couldn't eat at all there at the end [other than] a little water here and there, so it was taking a toll on me.

Reality TV World: Did the medics ever come to visit you?

Jerry: Yeah, pretty much after every challenge they'd show up and ask how I was doing. I would tell them that I wasn't feeling good, but they were limited as to what they could do for you. They could just talk to you and look at you and say okay.
 
Reality TV World: Had you been given any reason to believe, or had you felt the problem would suddenly resolve itself in the next few days if you'd managed to survive that Tribal Council?

Jerry: Maybe, But like I said I had been that way for like six days and I hadn't shaken it by then so I don't know. It coulda happened, it coulda not happened, but I'm not sure. 

Reality TV World: How long did it take to clear up once you were out of the game?

Jerry: About two days [later] I started feeling better and several days after that I kinda got back to my old self.

Reality TV World: You had said [on the show] that you [thought] the beans were causing your problems?

Jerry: It coulda been the beans, I'm not one-hundred-percent sure. But I was eating and drinking the same stuff that everybody else was, and [nobody] else got sick except for me, so I don't know how or what went wrong.
 
Reality TV World: Prior to Tribal Council you seemed to be making attempts to say you were feeling better to your tribemates. Were you actually feeling any better or were you just trying to put on a good face...

Jerry: (Interrupting) I was putting on a good face for about six days! (Laughs) I mean, I was up [and] walking around, chopping wood and everything. I was trying to put on a good face but man I was still in rough [shape].

Reality TV World: At Tribal Council, you singled out [Brendan Synnott] as the best person in the tribe to be a leader instead of [Benjamin "Coach" Wade].  Can you talk a little bit about why you felt that way?

Jerry: Well Brendan, he reminded me more of myself. He's a laid back type of... he has a laid back type of mentality. He doesn't get excited when things go wrong, he doesn't yell, he doesn't go off the handle. And I figured with his character traits and characteristics he would make a better leader than Coach because I've seen Coach go off on one female in the tribe and I figure a good leader shouldn't have to beat up on a person just because something don't go right.

Reality TV World: And I'm not sure if that's [who you're talking about], but when we interviewed [Candace Smith] last week she had some extremely strong feelings about Coach. But actually before that, could you tell me what your own impression about him was overall?

Jerry: Oh well, overall what I'm seeing on TV and the way he was around me was totally different. I mean. around me he was more like a brother. Me and him talked, and we talked sensible about things and how we wanted things to happen and go and there was no yelling, no manipulation, no nothing. So he put on a good act for me, and I guess only in the [confessional] interviews they're doing with him is the real Coach coming out.
 
Reality TV World: Going back to Candace. Candace had said that Coach acted inappropriately with some of the girls on the tribe, did you see anything he did that seemed inappropriate?

Jerry: I didn't, I didn't at all. I mean, I didn't see anything inappropriate, except for the other night when Candace got voted off I think he tried to kiss her or something? Other than that I didn't see Coach try anything with any of the females on there.

Reality TV World: [Coach] didn't seem to react very well to your Tribal Council suggestion that he wasn't the best leader for the tribe and a lot of the rest of the tribe seemed to smile and snicker as he tried to state his case as to why he should be the leader...

Jerry: (Laughs) Well see, I didn't see his face either when I said what I said until last night when I watched it. But I was just speaking from the heart and what I believe, and I mean Coach is a good guy but I wouldn't put him out front. (Laughs) He's definitely a follower.

Reality TV World: Does that fact that they were kind of laughing at him a little there, do you think that means that you guys had started to "see through" some of his stuff by Day 9?

Jerry: Oh yeah, without a doubt, without a doubt. Because what I'm thinking in my mind is that a guy who's done as many adventures as Coach has done, and I never saw him start a fire. And on the truck [at the beginning] he wasn't the strongest guy that was carrying most of the load. So I'm thinking in my mind "This guy's putting on a good front. He's pretending to be this macho hero when really he's not."

Reality TV World: Coach seemed to interpret some of the things you said at Tribal Council to mean that Brendan had already been leading your tribe through those last few challenges, but based what was shown on TV, it's looked like Coach was the one that had actually been leading. Who do you believe had been leading your tribe up until that Tribal Council?

Jerry: Well we really didn't have a leader [per say]. Every time we showed up at challenges, either the Reward Challenges or the [Immunity] Challenges, Brendan would always step forth and say "Hey, I looked at it and we oughta do it this way, this way and this way," and that's pretty much the way we did pretty much all of them. So he was pretty much out front then, but without being out front, you know what I mean?
 
Reality TV World: Why did you go along with Coach's plan to vote Candace off instead of Sierra? When we talked with Candace last week she said your vote for her had been the biggest surprise to her.

Jerry: Well the tribe, they came to me and the majority had already decided that she was gone. So I figured if I didn't vote her way... everyone else was gonna vote her way and if I didn't vote her way than that would put me under the spotlight.

Reality TV World: I know you said that you felt Brendan should be the leader, but did you have any idea that he was looking for a hidden Immunity Idol based on clues he was getting at Island?

Jerry: I had no idea whatsoever. None. I mean [the first time he came back from Exile Island] he said [Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George] got the clue, and that gave me a little doubt to if he was telling the whole truth. I mean that's part of the game, you've got to deceive, but I had no idea that he found it! (Laughs) Which is good on my part. I didn't have a clue.

Reality TV World: We saw that [Spencer Duhm] had no idea either, but did anyone on Timbira get a little suspicious when Brendan chose Taj to come back to Exile with him a second time?

Jerry: Well his philosophy for doing that was he wanted to take the same person every time to narrow the field down as to who would find the Immunity Idol. That way everyone would know that this person had been [there] all these times the odds of them having the idol, there's a good chance that it's this one person instead of several people. That was his rationality to us. That's why he said if he goes he's gonna take her because that's a good idea.

Reality TV World: What was your reaction after the challenge when Coach suggested that you guys not go off and start badmouthing each other?  Just because given what had happened with Candace just a few days earlier, it seemed like he wasn't likely to follow his own advice.

Jerry: Well after that challenge I think we were all pointing fingers at [Debra "Debbie" Beebe] because she wasn't yelling loud enough for us to hear [unintelligible], that's why he said what he said. He had built that bond with Debbie, it was like us four guys and Debbie for the alliance.

Reality TV World: Could you talk a little bit about the Immunity Challenge? You seemed to place a lot of the blame for the loss on yourself when it seemed like the tribe's decision not to follow [Erinn Lobdell's suggestion] was the problem.

Jerry: Well I mean, I gave one-hundred-percent despite my capabilities, I kinda put the blame on myself a little bit because I coulda done a little better as far as pushing blocks and kinda help Erinn out because she did have an idea where all the blocks went, but nobody was really listening to her.
 
Reality TV World: Yeah that was my next question, why did no one really listen to her?

Jerry: Well I mean she pretty much, she was on the outs with the tribe basically. Yeah, because I think when she was... I don't know... She wasn't very trustworthy. I'll put it that way.

Reality TV World: Oh, okay. Can you clarify that a little bit?

Jerry: Yeah I mean... Yeah I mean she... as far as having an alliance with anybody, she would be an alliance with you as long as it was in her favor, but if you weren't in her favor she'd jump ship and ally with anybody else just as quickly, in my opinion.

Reality TV World: I just want to clarify something that you said on in your Final Words -- Do you really think that competing on Survivor was tougher than what you had done serving in Afghanistan?

Jerry: Oh yeah! (Laughs) I mean, in Afghanistan people are trying to shoot you and kill you, but as far as the essentials that you need to survive, in Afghanistan I had everything that I needed. I didn't have any need for anything. But on the show you have a need for everything. You need shelter, you need food, you need water, you need supplies, you need medical attention, you need anything. In Afghanistan I had all that at my disposal. That's why I said it was tougher than Afghanistan.

Reality TV World: Is there anything that wasn't shown on the show that you wished had made it in?

Jerry: Well some of the stuff that I did around camp I wish they woulda showed. At one point I was the first one up trying to get the fire going and the fire pit. I mean I pretty much constructed a fire pit myself, several little small things like that I did. But I guess it wasn't important as far as in the public's view of selling ratings.
 
Reality TV World: Who would you like to see win the season? In your exit statement you seemed to be pulling for one of your tribemates.
 
Jerry:
Oh yeah, yeah. I'd like to see either Brendan or Tyson win it all, take it all home. One of those two guys.

Reality TV World: Based on her response, Sierra seemed to really fall for the opening twist and think she was immediately being voted out of the competition -- what was your own reaction?

Jerry: Well when he said that the person voted out was not gonna make the trek, I mean I knew it was gonna be on our team but... I feel like she knew it too, but [Sandy Burgin] thought she was voted off which is why she was carrying on the way she was.

It was an eye opener, pretty much everybody on our tribe voted for the same person but one person -- I think Brendan voted for Erinn -- but everybody else had their eye on the same person.
 
Reality TV World: Did you believe Erinn's claims after Candace's elimination that she was only getting close to Candace to not make it obvious that she was going to vote for her?

Jerry: Uh I don't think so. I think that she was trying to build an alliance with anybody, you gotta [ally] with anybody you can at that point in time in the game, just so you won't get eliminated.

Reality TV World: How were you cast for the show?

Jerry: They contacted me. I mean, I had just come back from overseas [and] my local paper ran an article on me and the show got a copy of it. They called, and when they first called me I thought they was kidding, I said 'This can't be true,' (unintelligible), and it just went from there, I sent in my audition video and boom, I was on my way to Brazil. (Laughs)

(Photo credit CBS)


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