Exclusive: Keith Nale talks 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 12/22/2014
Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water castaway Keith Nale finished the 29th season in fourth place, losing the $1 million grand prize to Natalie Anderson, during the live portion of the finale broadcast on CBS.
Keith, a 53-year-old fire captain from Shreveport, LA, was also defeated by runner-up Jaclyn Schultz and third-place finisher Missy Payne.
Survivor host Jeff Probst discovered at the live reunion show that if Keith had made it to the Final 3 instead of Natalie, he would've won the million with about half the jury votes.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Keith talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and for more interviews with the season's Final 5 castaways.
Reality TV World: Sorry about finishing in fourth place but congratulations on making it as far as you did.
Keith Nale: Fourth place is all fine and good but them women got me. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: When you were asking your jury question, you asked Natalie how it felt that the last words she spoke to you were lies. Can you clarify what exactly she lied about? What were her last words, that you'd all be voting for Missy?
Keith Nale: Yeah, I wasn't really -- I don't know. I knew she had talked to -- you go to Jaclyn. Jaclyn's got the necklace. That's who you go to right there at the end and say, "Hey, Jaclyn, if you bring Nat along, Nat's going to win this thing."
And I thought I had her swayed over and then Natalie said, "Yes, we're voting for Missy. We're voting for Missy." So I'm thinking this whole time, "I voted the last time to vote Missy out." Because I thought that's the route they're going. But they had lied and you see what that came of, anyway.
Reality TV World: Why did the lying bother you so much considering it's kind of the name of the game inSurvivor?
Keith Nale: It is the name of the game and I tried to play not quite like that, you know, not like every sentence -- maybe lie every other sentence. Because I remember right there [on] the first [day], I got sent to Exile Island -- this is before I knew anybody's name.
And I'm over there with [Val Collins] and the first thing Val says to me is a lie. She gets the clue and I said, "I see the route this is going and I've got a long [way to go]. This is still with 18 players left."
But I didn't want to do that every sentence, you know what I mean? I wanted to try to play a little better than that, but when it comes down to it, you've got to lie. So, it was nuts! And Natalie was good at it.
Reality TV World: How big of a role did your Reward Challenge hint play in you winning that next Individual Immunity Challenge?
Keith Nale: Oh man! That was big time. Going over the little bridge and knocking off the deals, I said, "I've got to win this. I'm here. I'm stuck here with four women. I got to win out," is what I was thinking, "not only that one, but the next one and next one and however many."
But yeah, it was big, and I went down there and I practiced from like three in the afternoon 'till dark. It was dark and I couldn't see no more. That helped out big time, plus I figured they were up there eating my rice, so I better get back.
Reality TV World: Did the other castaways know you had gotten to practice that much or did they find out later? Where did they think you went all afternoon?
Keith Nale: Yeah, you're right. You're right. They heard -- I mean, they were there when I won the clue, but I had to go read it in private. I really didn't think they knew where I was at, and I didn't know I was going to get to practice.
That was a big deal. But when I got back, I told Missy, I said, "Missy, you might be able to do this one, you know? There's no running, jumping. It's just standing around like a little foosball table."
So they were happy to hear that, but I knew I had them. I practiced. That was hard. Come to find out, none of them got a ball in the deal before I got all three of mine. That was a pretty big [advantage]. That sent [Baylor Wilson] home that night.
Reality TV World: So you were so focused on yourself during that challenge that you were completely oblivious to the fact no one else had sunk even a single ball?
Keith Nale: You're exactly right. And watching it back on TV, right there at the end, they started watching me. I got the feeling they were watching and they just, I don't know. That's how big of a Reward it was to go practice for three or four hours. It was frustrating, but finally, you got it down and I said, "This is pretty slick here. I'm one step closer," you know what I mean?
Reality TV World: What made you decide to send Jaclyn off to Exile Island after you won?
Keith Nale: Well, that's crazy too. I didn't have it in my heart to send Missy. I didn't want to see her hobbling around over there. That would've been painful for her, but that might've been a mistake looking back. Natalie had done -- well, everybody.
All three of them had already been [to Exile] a time or two, so it was really just a tossup. I think Jaclyn was standing the closest there to me. (Laughs) So I said, "Why don't you go there, Jaclyn?"
Reality TV World: So it doesn't sound like there was a lot of strategy involved. Did you assume there was just no hope in splitting up Missy, Baylor and Natalie?
Keith Nale: Yeah, I'm with you. You're pretty sharp at this too, but it really wasn't no strategy. Like I said, it was kind of like my whole game. I didn't have no strategy. I worked on Natalie and Missy a little bit and I was telling Missy, "We need to get Nat."
And I was telling Nat, "We need to get Missy." And then whatever they decided on, I'd kind of go with it. I kept saying, "That's a good choice," just as long as you don't hear your [own] name.
Reality TV World: Right before you got voted out, you were telling Jaclyn that she had a better chance going to the Final 3 with yourself and Natalie than with Natalie and Missy. Did you genuinely believe that she had a better chance with you than Missy?
Keith Nale: Looking back, I think they made the right choice. Looking back, there were seven guys over there in that jury and I know I had four of them. I think they finally wised up and said, "If I bring" -- now, granted, this is Jaclyn's choice.
I think she finally wised up and I think Nat got to her, saying, "Keith could win this thing if you sent him over there." And sure enough, you know, they took that little fake poll and I would have [won]. But I think Jaclyn did the right thing.
Reality TV World: Yes, it looks like Jaclyn would've lost to you or Natalie.
Keith Nale: Yeah, you're exactly right. That's what it came down to. I don't think Missy or Jaclyn were going to win that thing. It didn't matter if I was over there or Nat was over there. And it kind of showed right there at the end. Missy didn't do the last three or four challenges. She was coasting. And earlier in the game, it was [Jon Misch] and Jaclyn.
They keep calling them the "power couple" but I think they were just like a swing vote and you could swing them to their side or swing them to the other side and they'd fight and then they'd finally decide on something. So, I think it was me and Nat's million to win.
Reality TV World: I know you're not a big student of the game, but often times in Survivor, if you're swinging back and forth, the two different alliances will decide to come after you. Were you surprised no one tried to take Jon and Jaclyn out for a while?
Keith Nale: You're exactly right. I'm thinking to myself, "What are we thinking here? Let's do this." And I'm exactly with you. It just didn't happen. We couldn't pull our stuff together back when we had [Reed Kelly] and [Wes Nale] and [Alec Christy] and all that. They were just picking us off one at a time. We couldn't break that big fivesome or sixsome.
Funny thing about it, I thought right there at the first, "I'm getting out the five J's." That was my thought -- [Julie McGee], [Josh Canfield], [Jeremy Collins], Jon, and Jaclyn. The five J's. It was easy to remember.
Reality TV World: Is that where the strategy came from or was there more to it than that?
Keith Nale: Well, we kind of accomplished that except for the last one. I mean, on my part, bam. Julie's gone, Josh is gone, Jeremy is gone.
Reality TV World: But why those five? Did you consider them all threats?
Keith Nale: Yes, exactly, players of the game. Maybe not so much Julie, but from then on out, oh yeah. Josh -- they'd come to me and say, "Keith, what do you think?" And I told them what I'd think, like, "You and I have got to go this route and get this [person] out."
And they'd change my mind sometimes. They wouldn't change my mind sometimes. But I think it went pretty according to plan except for "the plan." The plan didn't work too good, but I made it to the Final 4.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Keith's interview and for more interviews with the Final 5 castaways.