Exclusive: 'Survivor: Kaoh Rong's Tai Trang talks about his time on the show
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/20/2016
Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty castaway Tai Trang finished the season in third place during the live portion of Wednesday night's finale broadcast on CBS.
Tai, a 51-year-old gardener from San Francisco, CA, was defeated by runner-up Aubry Bracco, a 29-year-old social media marketer from Cambridge, MA, and $1 million winner Michele Fitzgerald, a 24-year-old bartender from Freehold, NJ.
Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed Tai had received no votes during the Season 32 reunion show. Aubry got two votes, while Michele racked in five. However, Tai still managed to finish ahead of Cydney Gillon, a 23-year-old body builder from Douglasville, GA, who went out in fourth place.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Tai talked about his Survivor experience. Below is what he had to say.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Michele won and why do you ultimately think she did win? What did the jury respect so much?
Tai Trang: No, I was not surprised because I know the jury viewed her as the underdog. You know, she came up from behind and she looked like a winner. And at the Final Tribal questioning, I had a feeling it would be her. But I thought it would maybe be, like, one vote different between Aubry and Michele. But no, she's great.
Reality TV World: Was there a vote you were expecting that you didn't get?
Tai Trang: Not me. (Laughs) I did not think I would get any votes. I mean, I was trying to convince [Scot Pollard] to come [around]. He's a professional basketball player; He would understand the gameplay.
And I wanted my message to come across, but looking at the jury, I knew there was no chance. I was just hoping to get one from Scot, but I didn't realize that he was really hurt from it. I didn't think he could see what I was trying to tell him.
Reality TV World: Imagine that Cydney made it to the end with Aubry and Michele. Do you think Michele still would have won? And whom would you have personally voted for if, hypothetically, that was the Final 3?
Tai Trang: If Aubry, Cydney and Michele were at the end and I'm not there, I would have voted for Aubry because I'm very loyal and she's my girl. We didn't get connected until towards the end, the last part of the season, but still, she just reminded me of home and what my friends are like. She's a great person, and so yeah, I would have voted for Aubry because I think she played one heck of a game.
Reality TV World: Looking back, do you have any regrets about flipping on Scot and Kyle Jason? Do you think you would've had a better shot to win had you stuck with them?
Tai Trang: No, because I was playing in that moment and Survivor [changes] from week to week. I can't say "what if" because if I gave Scot my idol to make a "Super Idol," I might have gone home the next week. I don't know what would happen. If you move one piece of a chess game, everything shifts around, so I would probably play exactly the same.
If Jason would've gone home, it might be a different story, because I feel like Scot and I could work so much better together. There was something about Jason. I don't think that we'd be [tight]. I was definitely on the bottom of that alliance of three, and you know, they were so big together like a two-headed monster.
So when Jason won immunity, Scot had to go. But no, I would not play [differently]. I don't think I would go along with that alliance. I'd probably stay with Aubry or someone else.
Reality TV World: Do you think there was anything else you could've said, done or argued at the Final Tribal Council to potentially sway some of the jury members in your favor? You might not have remembered everything you wanted to say under that stress.
Tai Trang: Trust me, I spent many hours thinking about the Final Tribal, but again, I can't do "what ifs." It felt right at that moment. It felt right for me to do that speech. Do I regret it? No. I never know what could happen. I have thought many, many hours about the show though.
Reality TV World: Why did you decide to let Aubry make fire instead of just taking her out with Cydney and Michele? Did you think at the time you'd have a better shot of beating Aubry in the end, or were you more concerned about proving to the jury you could stay loyal to an ally?
Tai Trang: I think I was more concerned with proving I'm loyal, because they said at Tribal I flip-flopped a lot, but I think my only real betrayal was playing against Scot and Jason. The other one I had my eye on was Aubry, and that was my true alliance. I wanted to prove to the jury that I'm not going to flip-flop again by taking Aubry with me.
In hindsight, did I make a mistake because I gave her the winning moment of making fire? I forced Aubry to make fire and she did it right. So, yeah, that's one thing I would have done differently I think. I didn't think about winning against [her]. I was so loyal to Aubry. She completely blinded me, like, she's great.
Reality TV World: What do you plan to do with the $50k Sia gave you? And have you thought about which animal charity you'd like her to donate to on your behalf?
Tai Trang: Yeah, you know, there are a lot of different charities. There's an animal charity where I trap cats. I trap field cats and then release them. This is a local program that I might give some money to, because I volunteer there. And a different shelter, it's an organization called P.A.W.S.
I volunteer there and they go into your house and clean the cat litter or walk the dog for people who have HIV or AIDS and cannot leave the house. Right now, I can't identify which one, but the money [could be split] among several because $50,000 is a lot of money that can go a long way for different organizations.
To read more exclusive interviews with the Final 3 castaways, check out Reality TV World's Survivor: Kaoh Rong page.