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Exclusive: Tai Trang talks 'Survivor': Being called "a rat" was the lowest point in my game and probably my whole life


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/30/2017 

Tai Trang finished Survivor: Game Changers in fourth place during Wednesday night's Season 34 finale on CBS.

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Tai, a 52-year-old gardener from San Francisco, CA, survived longer than Cirie Fields, who finished in sixth place, as well as Aubry Bracco in fourth place. Tai defeated Troy "Troyzan" Robertson in third place, Brad Culpepper in second place, and finally Sarah Lacina, who won the $1 million grand prize and was crowned the "Sole Survivor."

Tai got voted out on Night 38 of the game. He got taken out instead of Sarah or Troy after Brad won the final Individual Immunity Challenge.

During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World following the finale, Tai talked about his Survivor: Game Changers experience. Below is what he had to say.

Reality TV World: Why did you vote for Sarah to win at the final Tribal Council session?

Tai Trang: Her game was great. Personal relationships aside, I think whomever plays the best game wins. It doesn't matter what they do in the game. And I think for most of the game, she did a much better job than Brad. It was a well-deserved win there.

Reality TV World: We know if you went to the end with Brad, you'd receive half the jury votes but still lose. What do you think would have happened if you went to the end with Cirie and Troyzan, or Aubry and Troyzan?

Tai Trang: Oooh, I don't know! Cirie and Aubry, my God, they are both great talkers and they're great social players. I don't know. I'd have a hard time debating them! As you saw in Kaoh Rong, I can't really articulate myself well. That's one thing I need to grow in at this point.

But Troyzan also did great. I think we'd have an equal chance to win. I think I did a lot in the game, but who knows. It's a tricky game. Every single season, it's up to the jury and how they feel, and whomever the jury thinks should win is going to win.

Reality TV World: Looking back now, do you think it was a mistake not giving Brad one of your hidden Immunity Idols when he asked to hold onto one?

Tai Trang: You know, I ask myself that question all the time. Just yesterday, I was telling Brad, "Can you really tell me [what would've happened]? Because it's going to drive me crazy for the rest of my life!" But no, I don't know, I went with my instinct.

If you're going to try to ask me to give you my idol, there's a better way to ask me than the way Brad asked, you know? Aubry would do a good job. If it was Aubry, I would've given it to her.

I don't know, you'd have to ask Brad that, but I don't regret my decision because I played the game using my heart. I had an instinct and sense of how things were going and how people were talking to me, I had this feeling about [it] -- a gut feeling. I didn't need to play an idol. I had two for quite some time.

Watching it, it's like, "How come you didn't play it?!" That's what I told myself. But I don't know. No, I'm glad I didn't give it to Brad though. I didn't want to be the fool.

If I gave him an idol and he voted me out at the next vote, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Like I said on the show, I'd rather go home deciding my destiny than let somebody tell me what to do. Nobody should tell me to do anything.

Reality TV World: At the Final 7, you were going to turn on Sarah, but Michaela Bradshaw ended up going home because of the whole steal-a-vote advantage fiasco. If you successfully got rid of Sarah, what had your plan been for the rest of the game?

Tai Trang: Sarah and I worked together from Day 1. She and I were loyal to each other. I always checked in with her and she was always checking in with me from Day 1. We had an alliance, a Final 2 together.

Cirie was such a great player. She wanted to sit me down all the time and say, "Hey, I'm trying to save your life" and that Sarah was trying to vote me out. So my biggest mistake in that moment was not going to Sarah and saying, "Hey, what's up," like checking in with Sarah.

Instead, I panicked. I was so gullible because Cirie was so good. She's a great player. I was so gullible and I was believing her, so I panicked. The only person I could really talk to in that moment was Aubry.

And that's how -- it was terrible. I said to Aubry, "Hey Sarah is trying to get me out. Let's get her out." And then Aubry told Cirie and Cirie came back to Sarah. Cirie was so good because she was trying to break me and Sarah up. So that's what happened, and then Sarah got mad at me. And from there, it was really hard for me to come back.

And that was that situation. Cirie, I mean, I thought Sarah turned on me first. And if she turned on me, obviously I needed her out, you know? So that was my biggest mistake in the game.

Reality TV World: So whom were you hoping to go to the Final 3 with when there were still seven people left in the game, including Cirie and Aubry.

Tai Trang: You know, I was still working with Brad. Even though Brad turned on me, I don't know. But I was really wary of Aubry because she's so good. I love her to death. Outside of the game, we are great friends. I don't know. I really liked Cirie too; she and I talked a lot. Definitely Troyzan, he was one of the people because I thought I could really beat Troyzan.

It might have been the Three Amigos -- Brad, Troyzan and I. I think that's what I'll say because they are whom I was really with. My boyfriend Mark said, "You've got to watch out for Aubry! And you've got to watch out for Cirie! The women get to you." And they do get to me, seriously! I'm so gullible.

Reality TV World: When five people were left, why didn't everyone band together and vote Sarah instead of Aubry? Why allow Sarah to continue being the swing vote? I'm assuming it's because you guys thought Aubry was a bigger threat than Sarah?

Tai Trang: I think in that moment, it was a tie. It might have been Brad, Troyzan and Sarah, who had already locked in. I could not -- when I got back, I talked to Sarah and I tried to convince her, "Hey, you and I are still sitting in the Final 3." I don't think at that moment she was locked into a Final 3 with Troyzan.

Because Sarah felt like I betrayed her and so she felt like she had to go to the Final 3 with somebody, and Troyzan and Brad voted together at the time, so it seemed obvious for her to do that. And I think I was too late already. I even asked, "Sarah, would you make fire? We can still be in the Final 2 together."

And she was already locked in. At that moment, we talked back and forth, and she tried to give me hope. But Aubry needed to be the person. I could convince [Sarah of that] and I needed to be on the right side of the vote again.

Reality TV World: Do you wish you had lied to Sarah when she and Cirie called you out about gunning for Sarah after Cirie tried to play the steal-a-vote advantage? Do you think part of the reason you came clean was because you felt safe with two idols, so maybe you would've lied if that wasn't the case?

Tai Trang: No, you know, I know I had to idols, but I came clean because it's in my nature that I can't lie when I do something. I tried to convince her, "Hey, the reason I did that was because Cirie said you were going after me first."

But Sarah was so mad at me. She was still like, "Yeah, but why -- do you understand what I did [for you]?!" She was just screaming. She kept saying, "Why didn't you tell me?" But she just couldn't get over the fact. And then Cirie and Aubry, at Tribal that night, it was crazy.

Suddenly I was "the rat," and not just to Sarah, but to Cirie and everybody, including Aubry. I have to say it was the lowest part of my game, even probably in my whole adult life. Everyone was calling me a liar and a rat. I was so tired and so hungry, and so I was so emotional. I was like the dog everyone was kicking.

I don't know. It was brutal. I mean, after the fact and after the game, Cirie said she felt bad about what happened. But about a day [later], I said, "Wait a minute, there has been so much [lying]. This is a Game Changers season, what are they mad at me for?" It's like, I had a good reason to do that because I felt betrayed.

People switch around and change their minds all the time, you know? Sarah did that and it was celebrated. When I did it -- I'm not sure if it's because of my nature, because I'm a good guy and friendly with everybody and they trusted me and then I flipped on them?

The betrayal to everyone was a lot deeper because that doesn't seem like me and my nature. But Sarah flipped back and forth, but then everyone is like, "Well, that's what's expected" and they don't feel that betrayed, you know what I'm saying?

They felt like it was expected, but me, I'm the little guy, the nice guy, and when I made big moves out here, they were like, "Wow, he's such a liar!" I don't know what it is, my size? I mean, I can't use my words well, like, I'm not well spoken, and I can't communicate too well. I don't know.

During these interviews, there are all these thoughts in my head but I can only speak half of what I'm thinking. That's something I would like to grow from, is to be able to carry out my thoughts. But I do think in my mind I will be calm about it. Because I was loyal her, I wanted to come clean with Sarah, but not in that moment. It was a difficult time for me.

Check Reality TV World's Survivor: Game Changers webpage in order to read more of our exclusive interviews with the season's Final 6 castaways.



Tai Trang/Instagram

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