Exclusive: 'Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance' winner Jeremy Collins talks (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/17/2015
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance declared Jeremy Collins the winner of its $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Jeremy, who first competed on Survivor: San Juan del Sur, beat former Cagayan players Spencer Bledsoe and Tasha Fox in Season 31's final jury voting results, which host Jeff Probst revealed during the live reunion broadcast.
Technically, Spencer and Tasha tied as the runner-up because Jeremy had a clean sweep of all 10 jury votes for the win. Kelley Wentworth finished in fourth place, Keith Nale finished in fifth, and Kimmi Kappenberg landed in sixth place.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Jeremy talked about his Survivor experience and victory. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: This is a little hard to ask, but do you feel you won the game based on your own merit, social and strategic gameplay or do you think your emotional family story swayed votes, or at least played a role in winning a unanimous vote?
Jeremy Collins: I think that my gameplay won it. I think [Kass McQuillen] said it at the merge. She said, "If Jeremy goes to the end, he's going to win." [Ciera Eastin] said it. [Abi-Maria Gomes] said it. Everybody saw me as the person that was kind of pulling a lot of the strings out there, and I was playing a really good social game.
I just wanted that ending to be, like, over the top. You know, if anybody had any trepidation on me or Spencer, or me and Tasha, and you weren't sure -- "Oh, he's having a baby?! Alright, let's just give it to him."
Reality TV World: Were you shocked then to receive all the jury votes? Leaving the Final Tribal, whose votes were you certain you had and which people were you worried about?
Jeremy Collins: I was worried about them all, except for [Stephen Fishbach]. Stephen, I knew, was going to be giving me that vote. I was not happy and I was not content until Jeff read the names, and that was with every vote off all the way through. Every week, I wasn't happy [until then]. I didn't know. I thought I could get Kass because she said it.
I thought I could get [Wentworth] because she told me that she would vote for me. And, you know, Ciera and Abi. But I wasn't sure. If I could get four or five, and I thought [Andrew Savage] might vote Tasha or my way, I wasn't sure. But if Tasha gets a couple and I get the majority of the rest between me and Spencer, I was happy.
Reality TV World: Fishbach tweeted last night that Wentworth would've won the game had you gotten rid of Spencer. Did you hear the same thing from the jury and did it surprise you? If it's true, why do you think that was the case?
Jeremy Collins: I mean, the thing is, Wentworth had so many people on the jury that were her friends and she was an underdog, and she kept battling and battling. She was going to go home but she played an idol. She was going to go home and then she wins immunity. Everybody loves that underdog story. She played great.
We didn't see it out there -- her being such a great player -- because she kind of would do her thing and let Ciera run the show. And everyone thinks Ciera is running it when it was really Kelley. And, I don't know. The thing is, if I pull out that my wife is pregnant, do they give her the votes still? If they were on the fence, would they still give it to her? I don't know.
Reality TV World: Did you really believe Spencer when he was saying he'd use all his energy to make sure Wentworth won if he got put in the jury or did you think at the time he was just fighting for survival? In other words, how much did Spencer's little speech play in your decision to keep him that vote?
Jeremy Collins: I was never going to get rid of Spencer. I made my decision when Kelley sent Spencer, Tasha and myself -- on the family visit, when she sent us back to the shelter, that was when I made my decision because I said, "That was Kelley's bad move of the game and we're going to go to the end together."
I kind of juggled options when I won the final immunity, but I wasn't going to take Kelley. I was just juggling things. I think [Spencer] was being honest. I think obviously he's going to scramble, but I think he thought that Kelley played a great game and she did. So I think he would've worked to get me -- and I think he would've voted for her, you know?
So I don't need that. And the night before, Kelley told me that she was going to vote for me. And so I said, "Why would I put someone on the jury that's going to vote for another person?"
Reality TV World: Before Kimmi flipped on your alliance and voted for you, were you being truthful to Kimmi about her NOT being your fourth in the alliance? You desperately tried to convince her she wasn't fourth. But if that was the case, whom would you have targeted instead?
Jeremy Collins: Kimmi was the fourth. But the voting-block thing, and I said it all season with everybody -- because Abi kept coming to me, wanting to know the order of votes and everything -- the voting blocks moved so much that I said, "I can't give you a number. It flows like the water. We can't do it like that."
So at the time, Kimmi was No. 4, but then in the next hour, or even the next half hour, Kimmi could be No. 1. You know what I mean? Kimmi was with my from Day 1 and I had trust with her, like, she was going to be with me, and that day, we would see who was on the bottom.
Reality TV World: Do you think the voting-blocks method emerged simply because of all the swaps that took place this season?
Jeremy Collins: Yeah, I think that's just what it is. I think all these swaps, you never feel like you're solid in anything because it moves so crazy. I think it changed the game though. I think from now on, even if you don't have a ton of swaps, I think people are going to start moving and trying to save themselves every day and try to better their game every single day. I think Survivor has changed forever.
Reality TV World: Did you have any pre-game alliances and do you think producers planned all the swaps as a way to effectively diminish those bonds?
Jeremy Collins: I think that's why there were so many swaps, because of pre-game alliances. People would call me or text me or send me messages and stuff, and my answer to everybody was, "I can't wait to play with you."
That's it. I'm not making any pre-game alliances. I heard that when [Tyson Apostol] came back, he didn't make any pre-game alliances and everyone says they don't work. So, I'm not doing it. I guess [Jeff Varner] was out working a ton to get pre-game alliances, and you know, I said, "I'm not messing with that."
Reality TV World: Were you shocked Spencer and Tasha never turned around and tried to get you out earlier? Did you manipulate them into thinking you were less of a threat or something?
Jeremy Collins: I don't think it was any manipulation. I think that I built trust with everybody. At some point or time in the game, I built some type of a bond with everybody.
And in a game with all the lying and backstabbing -- especially with all the swaps and voting blocks -- I think you need to find people that you can at least trust a little bit. And I think at some point, everybody had some type of trust in me, and that's why they kept me around.
Reality TV World: The Tribal Council when Kimmi went home, did Wentworth beat you to the punch by playing her hidden Immunity Idol first? In other words, had you already planned to play your idol, or did you only decide to put it in play once she did?
Jeremy Collins: So, I knew we were voting three strong: Tasha, Spencer and myself. And I said, "She's getting three votes. If anything else happens, then it's going to be a tie. So if she plays her idol, I'm playing my idol."
I would've kept mine in my pocket and if Spencer or Tasha flipped on me, I was going home. But I knew that if she played hers, I'm playing mine. As soon as she pulled it out, I was like, "Oh, I'm coming! Here I come."
Reality TV World: Okay, wow, so you had enough trust in Spencer and Tasha that you had no intention of playing your idol at that Tribal.
Jeremy Collins: Oh yeah! If she didn't pull her idol out, I wasn't pulling mine out and might've gone home.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Jeremy's exclusive Survivor interview.