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Exclusive: Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George talks 'Survivor: Tocantins'


By Reality TV World staff, 05/19/2009 

Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George thought she had her place in Survivor: Tocantins' Final 3 locked up.

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However after spending 37 days in the Brazilian Highlands, longtime allies James "JT" Thomas Jr. and Stephen Fishbach turned on her and decided to keep rival tribe member Erinn Lobdell instead, resulting in the 38-year-old from Nashville, TN becoming the thirteenth castaway eliminated from the game.

On Monday, Taj talked to Reality TV World about why she was so surprised by the move, why she had called the move "so unnecessary," how she believes the news that retired NFL star Eddie George is her husband really came out, and why she still voted for JT even after being critical of him during her jury questioning.

Reality TV World: You were obviously very surprised that JT and Stephen decided to take Erinn to the final 3 instead of you..

Taj: Oh yeah... (laughs)

Reality TV World: Why was it that you were so surprised -- did you just not see the scenario where they thought that would be a better move or were you just really confident that, despite that, they'd remain loyal?

Taj: I think I became extremely confident that we would take it to the Final 3.  Well, let me not say I was surprised, I was crushed, that's what I was. 

Earlier that day, after the challenge, you could just tell something was going on.  They were whispering more.  I had talked to Erinn earlier that day and she was pretty much normal but then by the end of the day her story had completely changed.  JT and Stephen were whispering and walking off a lot more. 

You could definitely tell there was a change in the air, so I had a feeling something was definitely going to happen.  I took everything with me just in case, just because you never know in that game. 

But I thought maybe it was just my paranoia, because of course there's so much of that out there. You're always wondering if your next and I just didn't want to really feed into it too much so I convinced myself that "These are my guys, we've been together forever, they will come through and we'll laugh about this tonight when we're back at camp."

But of course I never got a chance to laugh [about it].

Reality TV World: Did you buy their claim that it had to do with the fact that they thought you were a biggest final Immunity Challenge threat or did you think it was some other reason, and if so what?

Taj:  Um.... well, I guess I had to accept that because that's what they said.  I'll believe it.  My problem was I just didn't think it was necessary.  I had already promised Stephen that I would take him to the Final 2 if I won final immunity, of course so did JT and so did Erinn.  We all promised Stephen that.

So at that point there was no reason to second guess that.  I wouldn't have taken Erinn because I didn't have any loyalty to her.  I mean I appreciated her help in helping us to get rid of the rest of her tribe, but my loyalty, first and foremost, was to those guys.

So for them to think that I was a threat at that point -- someone who hadn't won any Immunity Challenges, who hadn't been stellar in the individual challenges -- it just didn't make any sense to me at all. I felt betrayed at that point because there was just no reason for it.

Reality TV World: Do you think your financial situation played any role in that, because...

Taj: I honestly do not believe that it was finances.  I don't think it was that.

I think what ultimately hurt me in the end was my popularity.  If anything, they definitely would be more concerned about losing to me in the Final 2 than me getting the money.  If that's the case, why was Stephen there -- his dad's an internal infectious medicine doctor and he works for MTV, he's traveled -- he has money.  If that was the case they would have definitely known about Stephen.

Reality TV World: Did they know about Stephen?
 
Taj: Oh yeah..

Reality TV World: You were obviously open [with the other castaways] about your own situation...

Taj: It appeared that way, but no.

Reality TV World: Oh really?

Taj: Yeah.

Reality TV World: What was the real story then?

Taj: Well, I hadn't told them anything.  On the trek in I knew that, with my tribe, when we all got together, not one person came up to me and said anything about my husband or my group. They knew nothing about me.

I knew that Timbera knew everything about me -- I knew that if no one else on from that tribe knew, I knew for sure that [Candace Smith] knew everything about me.  And I knew that she would tell everyone, which she did.  So I pretty much created a scenario for myself when we walked in on that trek. 

They asked me what did I do and I told them I was an author.  I didn't lie, I am an author, I wrote a book.  It's been published, I'm a published author.  They asked me if I was married [and I said] "Yes." They asked what's his name [and I said] "Eddie." [They asked] what's he do [and I said] "Fox Sports."

I didn't lie about that.  I didn't say that he had been an NFL player, of course not.  Why would I tell them that, that would be like instant suicide.  But what they didn't put together was that my name is Tamara George [and] I'd married a guy named Eddie. 

You can put it together and it takes you three days to get that?  Later on I found out that it was "nudged" for them to ask more about my family. (laughs)

Reality TV World: Interesting.  Why were you so certain that Candace would know?

Taj: Well because Candace is a 29-year-old black female who listens to R&B [music].

Reality TV World: So did you ever consider forming a female alliance with Erinn or Debbie or anything like that or were you just always really 100% certain you were going to the end with JT and Stephen?

Taj: Maybe had I felt like I could trust anybody in Timbera more I would have tried to work a side deal with them.  But Debbie was definitely confident in her alliance with Tyson and Coach because she felt like no one could beat Tyson.  So she wasn't thinking about doing and alliance with anybody else.

Sierra was kind of a loose cannon.  We had the Exile Alliance going and she was fine until the tribes merged and then she decided she was going to be a dictator.  She was going to tell us everything that she wanted, how it was going to go -- we're going to get rid of Stephen, she didn't want JT there -- and I was just thinking "Who in the hell put you in charge?"

And with Erinn, we had her on our side so there was no one else to pull in, there was nothing else we could do.  I knew I couldn't convince Tyson or Coach to come on our side and Brendan had already sealed his fate with the guys so I kind of had to cut him off to move forward.

Reality TV World: How did you think the Final 3 was going to play out, assuming it had been Stephen, JT, and yourself?

Taj: Well I knew for one [that] there would be no way for me to beat JT in a challenge.  Unless it was hair competition or makeup challenge or something like that there was no way I could physically beat him in a challenge. (laughs)

So I knew for sure if that by some chance I won, I would definitely struggle my vote between JT and Stephen and I really didn't want that pressure.  So I always told them I really don't want to have to choose between you two because we've come this far, it would kill me to send one of you home

So I'd rather put that on them.  And I knew if JT won he would take Stephen and Stephen had promised me that if he won he would take me.  We were going to keep it that way to the end and I figured if nothing else I would definitely be solidified at No. 3. because of the alliance with the guys. 

And we would just shake hands because we did it, we knocked out all six of them, and would go off into the sunset and one of them would take the prize.  But they ruined the plan, they got rid of me unnecessarily and that kind of just threw off my whole faith in men (laughs)

Reality TV World: Oh really?

Taj: Yeah, I don't trust men any more (laughs)

Reality TV World: So when the jury questioning started, you actually called that decision "so unnecessary."  Can you explain what you meant by that?

Taj: I felt like with the Final 4, JT was secure in his strength to know that he would take all of the challenges at that point.  There was no reason to send me home at No. 4 when we'd agreed -- we had promised everybody -- that we would go to the Final 3.  I just thought it was unnecessary because I wasn't a threat physically. I wasn't a threat, I didn't fell, in any way. 

And to say that, again, maybe, "She didn't need the money," I thought that was stupid because of course we have Stephen, who's comfortable.  I mean he's not "rich, rich" but he's not hurting for money, at all.  So I just didn't think that was necessary.

Reality TV World: So during that question you also seemed to especially hurt that JT had refused to write Coach's name down...

Taj: Oh yeah...

Reality TV World: ...but then didn't seem to have as big an issue writing your name down.

Taj: Oh yeah, that pissed me off because I mean literally, he was struggling with the fact that he didn't want to hurt Coach's feelings and he'd "promised Coach he wouldn't put his name down" and he'd promised Coach this and he'd promised Coach that.  And he actually went against us and wrote down Erinn's name.

So I'm thinking if this guy is so dead-set on his promises he won't put my name down, of course not, because we promised we would go to the Final 3.  We as a group, we would do it together. 

And then for him to write my name down after that day, I just thought like "Well, was anything that we discussed real? Because it seemed so effortless for you to unnecessarily vote me off."

Reality TV World: But yet you still voted for him [to win the million dollars]

Taj: I did.  I voted for him because me initial alliance was with Stephen.  Stephen and I promised each other that we wouldn't write each other's names down and we would go for each other if either one of us was in the Final 2.

But after he blindsided me -- for, again, no reason -- I felt like all bets were off [and] I had the right to vote for whoever I wanted to and I felt like JT deserved it more.

If I had to pick somebody who needed a million dollars, not that everyone wouldn't like to have it, but he could use it.  He could use it and I think he'll do great things with it,  He could help his family with it and I just felt like giving him my vote.

Reality TV World: I think you already shouted this over when you overheard me interviewing Erinn a little while ago, but just to confirm, would you have stuck with your [new] plan to vote for Erinn if she had made the Final 2?

Taj: Absolutely. (laughs)

Because at that point if it had been Stephen or Erinn, Erinn would have got my vote. [If it'd been] JT and Erinn, Erinn would [still] have gotten my vote.



(Photo credit CBS)


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