Albert Destrade: Ozzy Lusth played an atrocious 'Survivor' game
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/23/2011
Albert Destrade finished Survivor: South Pacific in third place, falling short of claiming the series' $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from Hollywood, CA.
Albert was beaten by runner-up "Coach" Benjamin Wade, a 39-year-old former Survivor: Tocantins and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains castaway who currently resides in Susanville, CA, and champion Sophie Clarke, a 22-year-old medical student from Willsboro, NY, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed during the broadcast. While the ninth and final jury vote was not revealed on-air, Albert received no votes, Coach received three and Sophie received six votes.
During a Monday conference call with reporters, Albert, a 26-year-old "baseball/dating coach" from Plantation, FL, talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: South Pacific experience -- including why he believed he didn't get any votes, how he responded to fellow castaways claiming he was insincere during the game, and what made him want to get rid of Sophie in the game before Rick Nelson.
Reality TV World: Going into the final Tribal Council, who did you think was going to vote for you and why? What do you think happened?
Albert Destrade: Going into that final Tribal, I knew I could have had a little bit of an uphill battle to be honest. I mean, I know -- just given the nature of the game, a lot of the jurors with vote on, "What have you done for me lately?" Not every juror is going to come in and say, "You made the most logical, rational, level-headed decision based on a 39-Day game."
People will look at the game and say, "Who won the most immunities? Do I feel like people are talking positively?" So, I knew I had some ground to make up. That was pretty clear. Coach hit the nail on the head. I really expected a longer, more drawn out scenario, where we all had a really ample opportunity to give our case of why we deserve a million dollars.
And I thought every person was going to ask each one of us a question, give us an opportunity to engage in an open debate -- I didn't think that they were going to be yes or no questions where you are limited to a yes or no answer.
I didn't think there were any comments made where we were able to kind of state our case and state our claim to something that -- to me, the prize was a very important title, but with that being said, I'm not making excuses for why I or anyone didn't win. It's just the reality of the way things worked. This isn't a jury of Survivorrobots.
You don't have nine professors making an educated decision. You have nine emotional human beings who have different reasoning and different criteria, which is unique to every person. Not everyone would look at the game like I would look at it if I was up on the jury or Sophie would look at it or Coach would look at it. Everyone looks at it from their own light.
So, for me, that was my only personal shortcoming -- was I didn't manage the jury and control the jury the way I should've. So, if I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play this game again, that would definitely be a huge factor or a huge idea that I would work on and think about -- establishing with the jury a better relationship and a better way to position myself, and let them know that, "Hey man, this guy really did play the game..."
There's not a day that goes by that I don't reminisce on things I could have said -- the dozens of points that I had that I could have brought up at the final Tribal -- that if even if I didn't win, America could have gone over them and said, "Wow, man. Albert, he played a pretty good game. That guy had a lot of reasons why he should have been a pretty important person in this game."
It could even change the edit. I mean, if I bring certain things up, they'd have to edit that in differently. So, to me, whatever. It happened the way it was supposed to happen and I'm resigned to my fate so to speak. I feel like there were still some opportunities for me to play a little bit better and to position myself a little bit better in that final Tribal.
Reality TV World: When I talked to everyone as they were voted off throughout the course of the season, one of the things that came across several times was people saying that they basically felt you didn't come across as sincere and genuine. What are your thoughts on that and was that something you had any awareness of at all prior to the final jury?
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Albert Destrade: Yeah, I think a big factor was what Coach said earlier, is that if each juror had to sit by themselves and be sequestered and not be able to kind of gossip with one another in a negative way, I don't think that ever happened.
It's pretty peculiar and head scratching when somebody like [Whitney Duncan] leaves the game saying, "Hey, I think [Edna Ma]'s up Coach's butt and Rick's not playing the game and [Brandon Hantz] is a loose cannon and Albert's a nice guy." Then fast forward a couple days later -- less than two weeks later -- and she's like, "Oh, we're at final Tribal and Albert, you're sleazy."
There's a pretty big gap there, and how do we go there? How did we get there? I mean, it's not from accepting a necklace that she would have accepted or really not saying anything really inflammatory at the final Tribal. To me, that's a product of somebody poisoning the well -- whether it's an ["Ozzy" Oscar Lusth] or a juror or what not -- somebody poisoned the well.
The day [Dawn Meehan] and Whitney left the game, they told me point blank -- I was like, "Listen, I compliment this move. I wanted to make it." I told them, "Listen, we don't have the numbers. Unfortunately, I can't get it done for you guys, I'm sorry."
They knew they were going home that night and they told me, "Listen Albert, we appreciate your efforts. Thank you so much. We actually think you're the only person on your tribe playing the game and if you make it to the end, we're voting for you. We are." I never asked them for their votes. They told me that.
At that point I told them, "I have to vote you out tonight. You know that I have to vote against you." And they told me they were voting for me. How did it go from that position to not asking me a question and then calling me sleazy and not voting for me? I mean, something weird happened in that ponderosa scenario that altered the voting and altered the way the game played out.
So, yeah. It was a little head scratching and alarming now that I look back on it, but you know, it is what it is. And again, I don't like to pass the puck. I always think that regardless of what the outcome is, there's a better play I could have made. So, that's all it is. If I ever have an opportunity to play this game again, I would and would try to improve my play and just do something even better than I did this time.
Reality TV World: After you guys voted off Brandon, they showed that scene where Coach got upset and told you he was tired of you playing to the jury and making seemingly insincere comments. It came across to some viewers as a little hypocritical given Coach's own mentions of religion and honor throughout the game and how that reflected his own action. So what was your reaction when he was ranting? Did you consider that a little "pot calling the kettle black" situation where you have to kind of bite your tongue? What was going on?
Albert Destrade: To me it was a little funny, man, because people said, "Wow, it's been interesting the way that you were portrayed" or the way things were shown given the fact that a lot of that stuff when I was portrayed was selfish play. That's the individual portion of the game. This is the point in the game where we're not playing as a tribe any longer.
A lot of people might have thought we were playing as a tribe, but we're playing as a unique person. And yeah, Coach saying, "I don't want you to jury pander anymore," I guess, that's probably a product of just the level of stress and paranoia we were under.
Coach didn't want to feel like, "Man, I played this game so wrong with this guy" -- to kind of have me take the rug out from under him. I get what his motives were behind the comment. I would never say that to a person in the game Survivorbecause I play a little differently than that. I would never be that open with emotions and feelings and that matter, because a lot of times, that will get you voted out.
But I felt like a person like Coach hadn't cultivated relationships long enough with the jury where we could go to the final Tribal and he would -- it's about honor and integrity, which is the last thing the jury ever wants to hear about. They don't want to hear that you played honorably.
I didn't know much about how to handle a jury clearly given the results, but one thing that I did know, was you don't go up to the jury and say, "Hey guys, I played with the most honor and integrity," because they don't want to hear that. That's not going to resonate in their ears. They're going to say, "Oh yeah, you played so honorably that you voted me out?" Yeah, screw you, assh-le.
That's not going to work out well for you normally. So, that was a big factor of why I didn't mind continuing going to the end with Coach, because I didn't feel like it was going to work out well for him individually. But I don't mind being portrayed as the villain or being portrayed as a "selfish player" because I know that every single decision I made post-merge was what I thought was the best way for me to win the game.
Reality TV World: We saw you in the finale expressing concern about taking Sophie to the end and considering her more of a threat, and then we also saw you talking with Ozzy when he called her a "spoiled brat." What was your own take while you were out there as far as Sophie as a player? Could you elaborate a little more on why you saw her as a threat when you were suggesting voting her off instead of Rick?
Albert Destrade: Yeah, 100% percent, and I think that right there delineated the difference between the way an Ozzy plays the game and the way I play the game. Ozzy's like, "I want to vote Sophie off because she's a brat." I would never in a million years vote someone off because of a personal feeling. Like Rick, for example, Rick and I didn't really like each other towards the end of the game.
But you're not going to see me say, "I don't like Rick! I'm going to vote him out tonight!" You don't vote people off based on whether you like them or not. You vote people off based on whether they could beat you or if it's an advantageous moment to kick somebody off.
Coach said in a confessional, "Albert's intimidated by Sophie," or "he thinks she's smarter than him." None of that's fact. I don't care if she's 100 times smarter than me or 100 times dumber than me. It doesn't matter. It's about whether or not she can beat me.
And I thought Sophie was the only other human being on that island who had a stick to claim and say, "You know what? I deserve a million dollars." If I'm on that jury and Albert isn't on it, and it's Coach versus Sophie or Sophie versus anybody else, I'm going to pick Sophie. And I knew how a jury works. I knew how they were going to profit.
I knew that in a final Tribal scenario, Sophie was going to come in on point. She was going to give the answer she needed to give. She had performed well recently, which to a jury, normally plays well. [Matt "Fabio" Elrod] won three straight Immunities to pull it out in Nicaragua. The jury pretty much gave him the million dollars because juries vote on, "What have you done for me lately?"
It's just a traditional pattern and jury voting. I get it. So that to me was a big reason I was concerned, because I knew that if Sophie got to the end, she had all the makings of a winner, which it turned out being true and it turned out correct. I take my hat off to her. She played a kick-ass game. Sophie, you're awesome.
But in my mind, even though Sophie was probably my closest ally the whole game, I didn't want to go with my closest ally. I want to go with a [John Cochran], who was hated by the jury, or Edna -- who literally did the least amount that you could ever do in the game Survivor. I want to go against somebody that I can beat. I don't necessarily have to beat the best. I just want to win.
I want to put myself in the best scenario. Unfortunately, the way the dynamics worked out in our tribe, I didn't have an opportunity to do that. And again, it was a pretty unique season where the three best players made it to the end. That doesn't really ever happen and it is what it is.
And it really makes a difference why a person like Ozzy didn't win. A lot of people out there are saying, "I can't believe Ozzy didn't win this season," but if Ozzy didn't play so horribly, he might have had an opportunity to win a million dollars.
If he makes better alliances early on and doesn't freak out and doesn't play an awful social game and doesn't just say, "I'm going to resign myself to going to Redemption Island and try to win, win, win" -- maybe if he actually tries to use the seven-inch space between his ears, he might have had an opportunity to claim the million dollars, kind of like Sophie did.
Also during the call, Albert told reporters whether Sophie was responsible for often nipping his strategic plans in the bud and how much of his gameplay was real versus false in the hopes he could get further into the game.
Why do you think you didn't get any votes to win in the end?
Albert Destrade: That's an interesting question. The thing is, when I prepared for this game, I really felt like I went out for -- I prepared better and more strategically than anyone that came into this game. I really felt like I was locked in and ready to go and play a winning game -- a number one optimal-type game.
Jury management is a tough thing. There's not a day that goes by that I don't replay final Tribal in my head. Granted, I know going into that final Tribal most of the jurors already have their minds made up. It's a weird scenario. You don't have many seasons where the three players who played the best game make it to the end. It normally doesn't happen that way.
Somebody gets blindsided, something happens and goes awry. In our season, it was a pretty new scenario. I mean, us -- the three players who made it to the end -- played a head and shoulders better game than any other human being that was there. I mean, if you look at a guy like Ozzy, Ozzy would have won.
Ozzy played an atrocious game on Survivor. I mean, just a really brutal game. Yeah, yeah, yeah, go, go! He got voted out three times in one game. That's absolutely difficult and it's almost embarrassing really to do that. There's other players in the game that really, if they made it to the end, either one of us would have won in a pretty remarkable landslide.
The biggest regret I probably have was I went into the game with the people I was closest with and the people who played probably the best game there other than myself. So, you know, I'm not ashamed of the game that I played.
Yeah, so what I got air-balled [and got zero votes] by a jury this time, but I'm not upset about it, man. I mean, I feel that I played a really strong game and I'm proud of every move that I made out there.
Was it always Sophie who shot you down when you had ideas about switching things up in the game or did you make some of those decisions on your own and viewers just didn't get to see it play out?
Albert Destrade: No, not necessarily. I mean, it wasn't specifically Sophie. A lot of the post-marked play that made the actually aired show, yeah, it seemed like Sophie was physically the one who shot me down. The thing is in Survivor, if you don't have the numbers, you can't make a move. It's pretty simple. It's a pretty simple idea.
There's a couple of scenarios that I entertained. I said -- Listen, unfortunately my brain was thinking logically and pretty rationally in a game that sometimes you play emotionally and sometimes not everyone thinks every scenario through the most clearly. For Sophie, it worked out the best.
But for myself and some other players, there were some spots that we could have possibly made a better play and we just couldn't rally the numbers. Some people felt a false sense of security or a false sense of entitlement, and I wasn't going to "out myself" by trying to make a move or trying to make a play and kind of falling flat on my face by voting in a direction that wasn't going to happen.
So, yes. Sophie was a proponent of, "Let's stay the course and let's go with the plan we wanted to." My thing was, I wasn't there to just make it to the end. I wasn't there to just have a good experience and see what happened. I was there to make the best possible play in every scenario. Every decision that I made, every move that I made, every word that I said, there was a reason behind it.
In my mind, if there's not a reason behind everything you do in Survivor, you're not playing the game properly. Granted, it didn't work out for me the best results-wise, but I still again feel like I looked at everything and did the best in every single moment where I had an opportunity.
You insisted that honor, loyalty and integrity didn't mean anything to you while you were on Survivor although your Upolu tribe seemed to live by those standards, but you participated in the prayers and said at various times that your behavior was genuine or sincere. So how much of that was gameplay and how much was real?
Albert Destrade: Coming into this game, literally, honor and integrity could not mean less to me within the game of Survivor. In real life, it's a very important factor to me. But again, this is not -- this isn't camping. I wasn't going camping with a bunch of friends. If I wanted to do that, I would have grabbed a nice cooler and some snacks and a tent and I would have had a jolly old time.
I was playing a million dollar strategy game, you know? This is a very, very different and unique creature. In terms of the prayers, that was something that I never expected. I'm a God-free man, and that's something that's a big part of my life.
I never thought it would play such a big role, like Coach said earlier, we were all pretty active in the game when it came to coming together and praying together and it was kind of a wild card. That whole thing, like Coach said, was something that drew us together. Again, I'm not a bull rider, I'm not a rancher, I'm not a medical student.
So when you don't have things to connect with people other than that one factor, it makes it unique. For me, all of that was very real and very true. Now, did I have an opportunity to connect with people over that? Yeah, of course I did. But the other stuff, man? Yeah. The honor and integrity card, I worked it. Actually, the only bad thing about it was, it played too well.
My big thing in my preparation was, "Let's get everybody that's on my tribe to think, 'Hey guys. It's us versus them. They're the bad guys. We're the good guys.'" The problem is, it worked too well. When we got to the merge, our tribe was so tight, so close, nobody wanted to make a move. So, I kind of had locked myself into a corner.
I put myself in a position where all the players in my alliance -- nobody wanted to move from the position we had made. So, I love that everyone played honorably and with integrity, but it kind of limited my flexibility and limited my ability to make some moves and make some plays that I thought would have been better at a different juncture in the game.