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Jimmy Johnson: My 'Survivor: Nicaragua' vote-off surprised me


By Reality TV World staff, 09/30/2010 

However the rest of Survivor: Nicaragua plays out for him, self-styled Survivor mastermind Marty Piombo will apparently be able to claim he accomplished at least one of his goals: "blindsiding" Jimmy Johnson at their Espada tribe's second Tribal Council.

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"I didn't [campaign to stay] because I didn't feel like I need to, I actually thought that we would be voting [Dan Lembo] out," Johnson told Reality TV World during a Thursday conference call which followed Wednesday night's broadcast of his Survivor: Nicaragua elimination.

"I knew that I was going to be a target.  I'd said that Day 1, that I was going to be a target every single time we went to Tribal Council.  [But] I thought I'd convinced everybody that I was wasn't a threat, so I didn't think that -- you know I actually don't think that even some of the women would have voted me out had they not been convinced to vote me out."

The 67-year-old former NFL coach and sports broadcaster suggested that while he has watched every season of Survivor, he had been somewhat naive about the importance of alliances during his time on Survivor: Nicaragua, which ended with his tribemates voting him off unanimously during their Tribal Council visit on Night 8.

"I didn't think that there were any strong alliances at that time... it was a surprise for me when I watched it last night," he told Reality TV World.

"I knew that there were a couple.  I knew that Marty and [Jill Behm] were probably together, [but] I didn't realize Daniel was in with them.  And I didn't think that [Tyrone Davis] was in an alliance, I didn't think that [James 'Jimmy T' Tarantino] was in an alliance.  But evidently, Jimmy T might have been in with [Holly Hoffman] and [Wendy DeSmidt-Kohloff], originally."

In fact, Johnson said he had deliberately avoided forming any alliances of his own during his eight days on Survivor: Nicaragua.

"I really had thought that once it came to the point, I could form some alliances.  But I wanted to kind of get into the game a little ways to see who I could trust and I could bond with and who we could really go the distance with," Johnson told reporters.  "Had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out, I would have probably formed an alliance with [Yve Rojas], Holly, [Jane Bright] and possibly Tyrone.... that way we would have voted Daniel out at that time."

"But again, I didn't realize what was happening, I didn't realize they were scheming to get me out.  I thought I was safe because they thought I wasn't a threat."

"Had I known that they had considered me a threat then I would have formed an alliance and would have protected myself," he said.

"I talked to Jane and to Holly and I told them I wouldn't vote them off, but I said at this time I wasn't locking in any strong alliance.  And I eventually would have gotten to that, but I wanted to kind of see who I could bond with and who I could truly trust."

Besides Lembo, Johnson told reporters he also probably could have convinced his tribemates to vote Tarantino out of the game.

"I could have gotten [Jimmy T] out or I could have gotten Daniel out had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out," he said.  "A lot of people wanted Jimmy T out the first week and I convinced the rest of the tribe members [to not] vote Jimmy T out because if we have a physical challenge he could help us... as it turned out, we didn't have any physical challenges there early."

In addition to keeping his plot to oust the former coach secret, Piombo had also managed to convince Johnson they were on good terms.

"When I watched the episode last night, it was a complete surprise to me.  I mean I was shocked because Marty and I, I felt, really had a good relationship and I thought I had convinced him that I really wasn't a threat," Johnson said.  "I told him, 'I'm not a threat, no one is going to give me a million bucks so you don't have to worry about me.'"

During the call, Johnson also said his Tribal Council admission that he was one of his tribe's weakest players hadn't been invitation for his tribemates to vote him out.

"I assumed everyone would be upfront and the weak players would have been Daniel and myself," he told reporters.  "I was just being honest, I was 67 years old, so if I had said, 'Hey, I'm one of the strongest members of this tribe' they would have looked at me and said you're crazy."

"I was being upfront with them but I didn't think I was the weakest player by any means."

However Johnson admitted didn't actually tell his tribemates that he felt Lembo, a 63-year-old real estate executive from Watermill, NY, was a weaker player than him during the tribe's Tribal Council session.

"I didn't think that I needed to [mention it] because I think everybody pretty well knew that," he said.  "I mean he pulled himself out of the first challenge, he sat that one out.  He volunteered to sit that out, and there was always concern about his knee on any kind of challenge where there was running or moving around.  And around camp, he didn't really do a lot around camp."

"And I'm not trying to trash Daniel, I'm just trying to be upfront about who was contributing on our tribe.  And again, it had been discussed with some of the other tribe members, but I didn't realize Daniel had an alliance with Marty and Jill.  That was a surprise, the first time I realized that was when I watched the episode last night.  He was in an alliance already."

While many viewers have speculated that Johnson would probably fared better if Survivor: Nicaragua's tribes had not been divided by age, the former coach said he is unsure if that would have been the case.

"I really don't know, I don't know if the younger group would have considered me a threat or not, because that was my downfall,' he said.

In addition, Johnson told reporters he had been forced into his leadership role on the older tribe.

"I really got thrown into that role.  I'd told them up front that I didn't want to be the leader, I didn't want to be the boss.  I just wanted to enjoy the adventure.  That's the reason I was there and I'd tried to convince them that, 'Listen, I'm not going to win the million bucks so I'm not a threat.  Just let me enjoy this adventure,'" he said.

"And then they got to arguing about building the shelter and making some decisions and came to me and said 'You've got to help us make some of these decisions, and the strategy for the challenges and for around camp.'  So I reluctantly went into that role.   But in years past, someone in that role is usually the guy voted out, so I didn't want that role."

But Johnson's belief that he had no chance of winning the game was legit, he said.

"I really didn't believe that any jury would award me a million dollars.  I know if I was on a jury I wouldn't award myself a million dollars, I would give it to Kelly Bruno or someone that needed it," he said, adding that he had privately planned to donate his prize money to charity if he somehow won.

While he enjoyed his time of Survivor, Johnson -- who lost 20 pounds during his eight-day stay in the game -- said viewers shouldn't expect to see him return for a future all-stars edition.

"I don't want to do it again," he said.  "That's not a knock on the show because I love the show, but I just don't think that physically I'm up for it."

(Photo credit CBS)


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