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Exclusive: Jonas Otsuji talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 2)

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/30/2012 

Jonas Otsuji was eliminated from Survivor: One World's newly-merged Tikiano tribe during Wednesday night's seventh episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.

Jonas, a 37-year-old sushi chef from Lehi, UT, was voted out of his tribe at the season's seventh Tribal Council session, the first session for the mixed-gender tribe after the 12 members of the Manono and Salani tribes had merged at the conclusion of last week's episode.

On Thursday, Jonas talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World -- including why he rarely ever got along with Greg "Tarzan" Smith, whether he really believed Colton Cumbie's evacuation from the game was karma, what made him go along with the former Manono tribe in deciding to give up immunity to the girls and go to Tribal Council prior to the merge, how he elaborated on his "wimpy" strategic game, and what compelling back story he had shared with producers when applying to compete on Survivor: One World.   
Below is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Jonas. Click here to read the first half. 

Reality TV World: So even though we didn't see much of it until last night's episode, you apparently didn't get along very well with Tarzan throughout the entire game. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Jonas Otsuji: Well, I don't think Tarzan got along with anybody in the game. If people got along with Tarzan, it was because strategically, it made sense. It wasn't like there were any genuine bonds between Tarzan and anybody -- at least that's what everybody told me. Everybody just kind of "dealt" with Tarzan.

Reality TV World: Going back to Colton for a minute, after he was evacuated, you made a comment that his illness may have been karmic payback for his prior behavior in the game, and a lot of viewers have voiced similar opinions that it was God punishing him or comments along those lines. What are your thoughts about that -- were you just making a joke at the time, or were you being sincere?

Jonas Otsuji: I would say half and half. (Laughs)

Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed a scene in which [Jay Byars] seemed to be telling Tarzan that only the people who won the coffee could have the coffee. Was that actually the case -- did you guys continue to restrict all the reward challenge items to the castaways that were part of the tribe that originally won them even after the merge happened or was that just something going on between Jay and Tarzan?

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah, Jay and Tarzan were not getting along well and I just think that was a personal thing between Jay and Tarzan.

Reality TV World: Going back to before the merge, what made you decide to agree to give up tribal immunity and go to Tribal Council to vote off [Bill Posley] when Colton suggested it? Were you really just that kind of afraid to stand up to Colton and say no?

Jonas Otsuji: Exactly, and because Colton was so volatile in the sense that he wasn't voting strategically. It was all about, "I hate this person. He needs to go!" He wasn't thinking 10 steps down the road. He's just thinking, "Right now, I hate this guy. Let's get rid of him."

So I knew that I could easily become that guy if I threw a wrench in his plans. So, it was the dumbest move, obviously. It wasn't my first choice, but like you said, I just went along with it because I didn't want to be the guy that ruined Colton's plan and then become the target.

Reality TV World: So in hindsight, given what you said earlier, it was a situation you now regret a little and would've changed if you could, right?

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah. Exactly.

Reality TV World: How surprised were you that everyone else ended up going along with it? Did you think that, "If I don't speak up, someone else will?" -- like maybe Bill or something? Because it had to be a unanimous vote to go to Tribal Council. (Laughs)

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah, yeah. I was surprised about that, but you know, after being out there, I had realized how quickly things can turn into the "as long as it's not me" kind of agreement. It happened so quickly because it's so easy, you know what I mean? It was amazing to me how quickly people were like, "Okay yeah. I'm good with that. Yup, yup."

Reality TV World: From Bill's perspective when I talked to him, he said his explanation was that he agreed to go because he thought had a chance to convince the guys to turn on Colton and vote him off -- not that he thought [Leif Manson] was actually going instead -- which kind of surprised viewers, because we didn't see a lot of that. Were you aware while you were out there that Bill agreed to that Tribal because he thought he could convince some of the guys to vote Colton off instead?

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah, yeah. He did propose that, but it was just way too risky. Yeah.

Reality TV World: So you were one of the guys who told him, "Sure, sounds good to me," and then basically stuck with the original plan once you got to Tribal?

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah, yeah. That's basically what happened. I just told him what he wanted to hear.

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

Jonas Otsuji: Just like everybody else, you know? I put a three-minute tape together.

Reality TV World: Was it your first time applying for the show or had you been trying for a few years or something?

Jonas Otsuji: No, no. It was actually my first time, but I knew that I was kind of unique in the sense that they had never had a sushi chef on. And I had an interesting story -- an interesting past story.

Reality TV World: I don't think viewers got to hear much about that story. Do you mind elaborating on that a little bit more?

Jonas Otsuji: Yeah sure. So before becoming a sushi chef, I had lost a significant amount of money. I had lost over two million dollars in real-estate and I went bankrupt. I actually had to re-invent myself as a sushi chef, and this is when I have three kids.

So I started all over from scratch, making nine dollars and 50 cents an hour. And then I created a name for myself in the sushi world from nothing, and so, I think that was part of the whole, like, being able to handle difficult things kind of appealing to them. I don't know. I'm not sure, but.

Reality TV World: Did you share that with your fellow castaways while you were there or did you keep it a secret from them?

Jonas Otsuji: I did share that with [Alicia Rosa] once. We were talking about going through hard times and I did it more as a strategic thing, like I wanted her sympathy like, "Hey I had all this money. Now I'm broke."

Reality TV World: It doesn't sound like it was one of those things that might have contributed to [Kim Spradlin] and [Chelsea Meissner] seeing you as a threat or anything then right?

Jonas Otsuji: No because they weren't even around at that time.

Above is the concluding portion of our exclusive interview with Jonas. Click here to read the first half.

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