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Exclusive: Matthew "Sash" Lenahan talks about 'Survivor: Nicaragua'


By Reality TV World staff , 12/21/2010 

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan believed he'd be in a good position to win Survivor: Nicaragua's million dollar prize if he could make it to the competition's final jury vote.

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However once he got there, the 30-year-old New York City real estate broker discovered he had underestimated the jury members' contempt for his cutthroat gameplay and strength of their relationships with fellow finalists Jud "Fabio" Birza and Chase Rice -- resulting in Sash being shutout in Fabio's tight 5-4 victory over Chase during Sunday night's live finale broadcast.

On Monday, Sash talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Nicaragua experience.

Reality TV World:  Were surprised you lost?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  I knew it was going to be a fight until the very end. We all battled really hard in that final Tribal Council, and actually, when I walked away from it in Nicaragua I thought there could be a really good chance of a three-way tie. But, it turns out that certain people on the jury don't respect the game as much as I thought they did, and Fabio came away with a win.

But Fabio was very deserving of it. I'm a super fan of the show. I've been watching it for 10 years, 20 seasons. I thought I knew all the twists and turns, all the possible strategies, and Fabio played a game I've never seen before. So I have to tip my hat to the guy. He played a great game.

Reality TV World:  So which three votes do you think you might of had on the jury?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  I thought I could've had [Marty Piombo]'s, [Brenda Lowe]'s, [Kelly "Purple Kelly" Shinn]'s, and I knew [NaOnka Mixon] was a swing vote, but I knew there was a chance I could grab hers too. So, unfortunately, it didn't go down like that, but it's -- those -- Marty and Brenda were the two that I thought could potentially vote for me based off my strategy in the game.

I was really close with Purple Kelly the whole time and NaOnka and I were close out there too, so it was definitely a shocker [during the finale] when I didn't get any votes, but that's the game.

Reality TV World:  Do you think anyone was swayed by Chase's comment that he would donate $100,000 to charity if he won?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  I don't think so. I wish he would have won to be able to do that, but ultimately, it's about -- I think people are looking for who the sole survivor is -- and I don't think whether or not someone's who's donating money had any influence in last night's vote.

Reality TV World:  Were you surprised Chase and Fabio voted Holly out instead of you at the Final 4 Tribal Council?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  I was shocked. I thought [I was] the biggest threat in the game, not only then but even going all the way back to the merge, and I'm completely shocked that no one ever targeted me.

With the exception of maybe [Survivor: Cook Islands' winner Yul Kwan] and [Survivor: Tocantins' runner-up Stephen Fishbach] in previous seasons held onto hidden or individual Immunity Idols as long as I have. So, why no one targeted me was a huge shocker and if I was Fabio, I would definitely have gotten rid of me before the final Tribal Council. It's a huge shock to me.

Reality TV World:  Your attempt at a "minorities only" alliance caused some controversy among viewers this season and a lot of them were confused why a "minorities only" alliance should be considered any less racist than if a white castaway had gone around looking to form a "whites only" alliance -- can you explain that?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  It was really kind of taken out of context. You'll see on the show, the only time I ever mentioned something like that  was to NaOnka, because I knew NaOnka's from South Central. I work in Harlem. There was a connection there and the only time really -- or when it originally came up -- is when NaOnka was a free agent.

She'd come up to me, she hadn't made any friends really or alliances, and on Survivor, you're not given many tools. So, coming into the game, one of my strategies was to try and connect with each player on a unique individual basis that no one else could. And she and I shared that in common and so I threw it out there and it worked.

She became instantly close with me, but you'll never see me talk to Brenda about the "minority alliance" because I kind of knew it was not a motivating factor for her. So whether you're from the same state, the same country -- whatever -- I was trying to make connections throughout the way and that was just one of many connections and it worked. It was -- it was a great strategy -- and I don't regret it.

Reality TV World:  Did you every really consider joining with Ben "Benry" Henry, Dan Lembo and Fabio [after NaOnka and Kelly quit], or were you just stringing them along?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  When we first got back to camp, when [Chase Rice] took the other two on a reward, I wanted to see what they had to [say]. And I kind of made that speech when we got back to camp, but I was shocked because not one of them, not when I was making that speech, not any time else throughout the day, not a single person came up to me and talked about a final three strategy.

It was a huge shocker. If Fabio or Dan or Ben came up and said, "Look, it's the three of us to the end," I would have considered it. Because at the time, I was worried that Chase, [Holly Hoffman] and [Jane Bright] were a tight knit group and I was a free agent at the time.

And then literally just days before then, my entire strategy had come crashing down with Brenda getting voted off and Purple Kelly and NaOnka quitting, so I was looking for my best avenue to the end and if one of those guys had come up to me and said, "Look, it's the three of us to the end. We're solid," there's a good chance I would've rolled with them. 

Reality TV World:  You still avoided giving [Survivor host Jeff Probst] a straight answer about whether you would have taken Fabio to the end if he hadn't won the final Immunity Challenge during Sunday night's reunion show. Can you give a straight answer now?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  I would not have taken Fabio.

Reality TV World:  Okay. What happened at the next-to-last Immunity Challenge? You seemed to have a huge lead on the puzzle and then somehow Fabio till managed to beat you.

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  Yeah, you know it's tough, and I don't expect anyone to understand because when it ever -- like I'm a super fan of the show -- and whenever I watch Survivor, it's usually when I'm eating dinner at home and eating a big cheeseburger or something like that.

But when you're out there, and you haven't eaten in 12 days or had many meals in almost two weeks, dehydrated, tired, elements are rough, you get these mental shutdowns and that's what it was.

I had a good lead on the puzzle, but your focus can stray even when there's a million dollars on the line, so it was tough. I played as hard as I could, but in the end, Fabio did a great job on that puzzle and all the Immunity Challenges out there, so, he beat me fair and square.

Reality TV World:  When I interviewed Jane on Thursday, she said there was some type of an incident between you two that she didn't want to talk about that was responsible for her voting for you at the Tribal Council where she was voted off.  Do you want to comment on that or say anything in your defense about it?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  No, look, Jane -- I was really disappointed with the way Jane played this game -- she hit below the belt when it was unnecessary.

Of course we all have on our game faces when we're out there, but I think she's the only one of the cast that had a difficult time separating the game from reality, and it was -- without a doubt she's my least favorite cast member -- but I can take the high road and not say anything negative about her, unlike she did with both Marty and myself.

Reality TV World:  Looking back at it now, do you think there was anyone you could have beaten in the final three?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  Well going into the final three, I thought I could beat everybody.

Reality TV World:  But [how about now] that you've seen how the jury couldn't let go and stuff like that?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  Well look, my original plan and after Brenda was voted off, was to take NaOnka and Purple Kelly to the end. So, if they weren't to quit, I feel like I could of had a good chance to hold onto a million dollar check today.

Reality TV World:  Even when Jeff gave him a chance to redeem himself on the reunion show, [Shannon Elkins] seemed to continue to insist that you are gay.  Jeff cut you off when you tried to respond to him -- what were you going to say?

Matthew "Sash" Lenahan:  Yeah, it's funny because two night ago, Shannon's wife and my girlfriend were having lots of fun here in LA. They had become good friends.

You know, Shannon's just bitter because he wanted his 15 minutes of fame and he only got two, so it's how the game is played, but I don't have any ill will towards Shannon.

(Photo credit CBS)


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