Exclusive: Shannon Elkins talks about 'Survivor: Nicaragua'
By Reality TV World staff, 09/23/2010
Shannon Elkins thought he had formed a game-dominating alliance with La Flor tribemate and fellow "alpha male" Chase Rice on Day 1 of Survivor: Nicaragua.
However his confidence ended up becoming his downfall when he decided he could convince Chase that Brenda Lowe -- whom Chase had also formed an early alliance with -- needed to be the first castaway voted out of their tribe. Instead of following through with the idea, Chase immediately shared the plan with Brenda, giving her plenty of time to organize a counter-alliance that was able to vote Shannon out of the game after the 30-year-old pest control company owner from Lafayette, LA embarked on a confrontational tirade during Tribal Council.
On Thursday, a still frustrated and confident Shannon talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Nicaragua experience -- including how his tirade wasn't the cause of his vote-off, why he already knew he was going home, what he thinks of the game's new Medallion of Power, and why he made his controversial comments about women and gays.
Reality TV World: So how did you think things were going to play out at Tribal Council -- did you think the vote was going to be a 5-5 tie between Brenda and yourself unless Chase voted for Brenda, or had you come to believe something else by the time it began?
Shannon Elkins: I like the way you put it, because the other [interviewers] have been thinking that I'm going in -- obviously you've watched the show and you know what's going on. The other ones think I went in there and ran my mouth and got voted off, which is not what happened.
You're right, what happened was before I go in -- if you know anything about Survivor, you [know you] play a game out in the beach and then when they take you in to Tribal, there's a time period in between where you're supposed to keep your mouth shut.
And for once in my life, I was a rule-follower -- which I don't know why -- but Chase, during that period of time, had changed his vote. Because I guess he thought he was on The Bachelor and he would be handing out roses at freaking Tribal Council!
But we go into that, and I knew it was 5-5 and [Alina Wilson] looked at me and she goes, "5-5." And I'm like, "Oh." I'm looking around, and if you've interviewed another Survivor -- which I know you have before -- you can tell when people are going to send you home, they won't look at you in the eye, you know?
So [Ben "Benry" Henry] wasn't looking at me, and Fabio was still on the fence -- I could tell that "Fabio" [Jud Birza] was just... he would have did whatever. He was just playing with his magic beans the whole time or whatever, he was just kind of floating around.
So I knew I was going home, when I went in, I knew what was going on. So what I did was, I just tried to call everybody out. See, what happens too is the reason that you see that I was so pissed is because Chase.
The whole time that I'm out there, the six days -- I know it's not long and you say, "Wow, big deal, six days, what can go wrong in six days?"
Well, you're hearing the same old sob-ass story -- his whole life story -- and how he was going to play this game with loyalty and integrity and respect and honor and all this stuff because he's a country music singer and he wants it to be good for his career... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And [he's] trying to bring people to tears and stuff.
So when I got there, I called him on it! Because I was straight-shooting the whole time, I wasn't bullsh-tting anybody. So I was going at him the whole time, saying "This is what's going to go down -- this and that -- and if we go this way this will happen."
So when I [went] in there, I called him on it. I wanted people to see that the guy is a liar, he doesn't even know what game we're playing, you know?
And then [Matthew "Sash" Lenahan] kept on -- which you don't see on the show -- Sash keeps going on and on and on about telling me I'm a liar, and I'm like, "Can you tell me when I lied to you?" And I'm asking people "Do y'all trust me, did I lie to you?"
And nobody will stand up and say anything. Maybe they were just scared, or maybe they -- I really didn't lie to anybody, so they had nothing to say. And then Alina had my back and called it like she saw it.
Because Alina, who better to say that than Alina who was going around and telling me, "Shannon, I'm talking to the other tribe and telling them that I'm voting for you, but I've got your back."
So she knew what was [being] played on both sides, and she saw the lying and everything going on on that side and she saw what was going on my side, so she knew I was being straight-forward.
Sash is coming at me, coming at me, coming at me, so finally I said, "Look dude, I lied to you. I lied to you when you lied to me." He said "When did I lie to you?" And I said, "When you told me you weren't gay."
That's how the whole gay thing got brought out, not by me just asking a guy if he's gay. I don't give a sh-t if Sash is gay! I don't care what he does in his spare time. I'm not judging anybody, I'm not bashing anybody. You know, I'm no one to judge, I'm far from perfect.
All I was saying like was, "Look dude, I'm showing this: you can go with Chase who doesn't even know what show he's on and he's lying to everybody or you can go with Sash, the guy who won't even tell us who he really is as a person! He's lying to y'all!"
Reality TV World: I'm sorry, so just to be clear, what do you think Sash's lie was?
Shannon Elkins: Who he was as a person.
Reality TV World: Meaning what?
Shannon Elkins: Meaning you take that however you want.
Reality TV World: Well you're the one making the comment, so I'm asking what you're suggesting by it.
Shannon Elkins: I'm suggesting that he was lying about who he really was as a person, and that's my answer.
Reality TV World: Okay. Well, you made several comments about women and gays during your time the show and in your pre-show press interviews, so there have been people out there accusing you of being a misogynist or a homophobe. What's your response to that?
Shannon Elkins: I'm not a homophobe dude, at all. I mean people who really know me around here in Louisiana know. I'm not a homophobe, dude. I wasn't -- I didn't bash any gays. None. I didn't bash any gays.
And as far as the sexist comments, I've been married since I was 19, man. I'm not a sexist. All I said was, "And if you have a girlfriend and your girl is not happy, y'alls relationship is miserable!" You know what I'm saying?
That's all I was saying! Women rule us in marriage and we're about to have a woman president. I was just joking and clowning and making some funny crap up to say on TV.
Tribal Council caught me in the heat of the moment. Here's what I did -- I was guilty and apologize to stereotyping. I am guilty of stereotyping. Hands down, I stereotyped the guy. Just like they probably stereotyped me -- "Oh, he's a hillbilly from Louisiana!" But I'm not sitting there crying about it.
I just called him out as a person saying he was lying about who he freaking really is as a person, that's all.
Reality TV World: So what you're saying is he's lying about not being gay?
Shannon Elkins: I never said he was gay or not. I think he might be.
Reality TV World: Okay. You went after Chase right away at Tribal Council. Did you think there was any way you were going to be able to change his mind or were you really at that point just looking to go out with guns blazing?
Shannon Elkins: I listen, the reason why I knew I couldn't change his mind -- whenever Fabio was like, "Shannon, I told you... blah, blah, blah." He was crying, because Fabio's so scared of conversation, poor thing.
What happened was, we all knew from the beginning that Brenda and Chase had like a little showmance going. But we had to break that up, because in Survivor you don't want two people having a showmance, you need to get one or the other gone.
I had already made my alliance with Chase, so obviously I had to go after Brenda and I pulled Alina and [Kelly Bruno] on our side. We could have sent home [NaOnka Mixon] easy -- you saw last night, you saw even with Tribal we could have sent NaOnka home easy.
But the two girls, they really felt threatened by Brenda, so we gave them the first vote in going after Brenda. Because if they're coming to us and we don't give them that vote and we go Nay and lie to them, then that means next it's either me or Chase going home.
So that's why. I wasn't thinking about that night's vote, I was thinking about my future in the game. Once we get out the biggest threat, then we just pluck of Nay, pluck off Sash, pluck off Kelly Purple [Kelly Shinn]. I mean all those were just easy pluck-offs.
Reality TV World: Why do you think Benry and Kelly B ended up going along and voting for you -- do you think they just knew you had no chance at that point?
Shannon Elkins: Yeah. See, what I was hoping was -- what I even tried to tell Alina was, "Look, don't vote for me [to stay]." Because what happens is if y'all vote for me now, y'all are targets. You know, whenever you vote against somebody and you go back to camp [with that person] it's weird.
I think what happened was Kelly B, I knew she was nervous about it and she knew, "Hey look, I'm not going home, so I might as well go with the other side." Because she knew it was leaning that way too because she was back there with me too and she was seeing the way they was looking at me and not making contact.
So I think she knew which way it was going, they knew the way they were voting whenever we got in there.
I knew I was going home and I didn't go in there and run my mouth and be voted off. I knew I was going home.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised to hear Chase say Benry was the only other person [besides Brenda] that he trusted?
Shannon Elkins: Not at all, because Chase was.... I don't know. A lot of people when they found out I was from Louisiana, they know obviously [former Survivor: Fiji castaway] [Kenward "Boo" Bernis] was on the show, [as well as] [James Clement], [Russell Hantz] -- not that Russell's from Louisiana, but he has Louisiana ties.
They knew that this guy probably knows the game and they knew I knew the game, and how the numbers work and how everybody goes. So they knew I was a big target. So yeah, being the guy who knows the game the most of course I'm a threat, of course he's probably weary of trusting me, you know? I think anybody out there should have been.
But he didn't know how straight forward I am -- how I'm going to kind of call it like I see it, which sometimes gets me in trouble for running my big mouth. Sometimes it helps to me advantage and sometimes it doesn't.
Reality TV World: Do you think the older tribe would have been able to win the challenge without the Medallion of Power, do you think it was the deciding factor?
Shannon Elkins: No... we actually got all our balls up before they even got three, so I think it really helped. The Medallion of Power, whoever invented that crap should be fired from CBS. I mean that is the stupidest crap ever.
Or at least put it out there and let us fight for it to get it, instead of just handing it back to the [other tribe] after using it, handing it back to the next one after using it, handing it back to the next one after using it -- that's dumb.
No, I don't think so. I wish it had been a physical challenge though. If they had done some physical challenges, I think that older tribe definitely would have whipped us because we had nobody that had fire in their ass on our tribe, I swear to god, except for me. Everyone else was just kind of soft and just quiet. I think they would have wished us in some physical challenges, but it would have been fun.
Reality TV World: You were one of the folks who was confident that Kelly B would win the game if she made to the finale even though Survivor juries have never really seemed to be big on "sympathy votes." Why were you confident she would win?
Shannon Elkins: Well, I knew if I took Kelly there with me, I was actually going to say, " Hey, give this girl the money, she deserves it!" I mean come on, she's lived her whole life with freaking half a leg. I mean I don't need the million that bad. Everybody can use a million dollars, or $600,000-something after taxes, but dude, she deserved it!
Believe it or not, everybody thinks I'm this bad person [but] I'm really not. I do have heart. You caught me out there for six days with no food. I stunk and it tasted like I had bird sh-t in my mouth every morning when I woke up. I mean, you just don't understand the heat that you go under and then somebody keeps pushing you, pushing you, pushing you to the limit.
That's what happened with me, so hopefully people will get that and understand reality TV, that's 70-something hours that goes into 47 minutes or whatever it is.
Reality TV World: I know we have to wrap it up, so last question -- how were you cast on Survivor? Was it your first time applying, or how did you end up on the show?
Shannon Elkins: I ended up on it, to be honest with you, because of course "Boo" from Survivor: Fiji is from Lafayette and I went to his finale back in 2007, met a few people and they were looking for like a young dad for this show I believe and that's the part I got cast for!