Bi Nguyen talks 'Survivor' and her decision to exit due to injury: It was so difficult, I felt guilty! (Exclusive)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/18/2018
Bi Nguyen opted to leave Survivor: David vs. Goliath due to injury right before the tribal swap during Wednesday night's Season 37 episode of Survivor on CBS.
Bi, a 28-year-old MMA fighter from Houston, TX, quit the game on Day 10 after spraining her MCL during the previous challenge. Bi became the fourth castaway to exit the game and the second person to leave based on physical limitations.
And then after a tribal swap, the new Vuku tribe voted out Natalia Azoqa, a 25-year-old industrial engineer from Irvine, CA, on Night 11 at the third Tribal Council session of the Survivor season.
During an exclusive interview with Bi on Thursday, she talked to Reality TV World about her injury and what transpired that viewers did not see on TV. Below is the first half of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: What exactly happened when you sprained your MCL in the challenge? What did you do?
Bi Nguyen: So, the starting point with the poles when I had to get around the ropes, I think I was swinging my body across, and what I felt like happened is my thigh was stuck on one of the rods as I swung my body, if that makes any sense.
And I think that sprained or hyperextended my knee a little bit. I feel like my adrenaline was going, but right at the puzzle, when they were doing the puzzle, I sat down and was like, "Okay, there's something wrong."
Reality TV World: Your ouster seemed to happen very suddenly in last night's episode. Could you fill me in on what happened from the time you sprained your MCL until the moment you left the game? I'm assuming you met with doctors and Jeff Probst and were given a lot to think about, but viewers didn't see any of that.
Bi Nguyen: Right. After the challenge, Jeff knew -- everybody could tell I was limping -- and I told people, "I think something is wrong with my MCL," because I had torn this MCL before, so I recognized it.
They took me to Dr. Joe, they took a look at it, Dr. Joe [examined] it a little bit, and he said, "I don't think it's torn, but I for sure know you either hyperextended it or you sprained it because it's not stable right now. So we're going to wrap it up and I'm going to leave you to see how it feels later and leave the decision up to you."
So we went back to camp as normal, and I just spent the rest of the day thinking about everything and just wondering what I was going to do. It was a super stressful day at camp.
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Reality TV World: The David Tribe obviously needed you as a number. Did you consider staying in the game and just sitting out of the challenges? How difficult of a decision was it for you to leave?
Bi Nguyen: I definitely considered staying in the game for sure, the whole time. That's why it took me so long to make the decision, but the whole time I'm making the decision, we have to go up a hill, down a hill, down some steps, walk around, and even getting around camp was very difficult for me.
I think it was just a little PTSD from tearing my MCL before. I knew that even climbing and being on this island could really injure my knee.
And honestly, at the time, emotionally, I was like, "I'm holding the team together really well physically in the challenges," and I just couldn't think about having to sit out every challenge. And I didn't even know if my knee would last beyond the island.
Reality TV World: Once you returned home, how did you go about treating your knee and are you better now? Maybe even 100 percent again?
Bi Nguyen: My knee, it's a lot of physical therapy and strengthening. I'm still strengthening it to this day. It's not 100 percent but it's not injured any longer. It feels beter. I would say I'm at about 70 percent. We're still trying to strengthen it back up.
I think knee injuries just never get back to 100 percent. I don't know when I can expect it to be, but it is, to me, healthy. I'm walking and I'm working out fine. I just can't run so well and I'm worried about it every day obviously.
Reality TV World: How did you feel about the position you were in strategically at the time you left the game? Did you feel you were in a good spot or you were in trouble? And how do you think the tribal swap would have affected your outlook on all that?
Bi Nguyen: I think I was in a really good spot, and that was another tough decision to make. That was another tough factor that made the decision tough. Because I feel like I was physically strong, and that was obviously known to the team. And I feel they underestimated me socially.
I had relationships a lot of people didn't know about and I was well liked by everybody. I think I was in a good position. I didn't make any big moves yet, but that was my strategy, just to be the jock for a little while. And I was really sad that I had to make the decision [to leave] before I could make any big moves.
It was really right before I was going to make any big moves, because I really wanted [Gabby Pascuzzi] out at that point just because of the [Jessica Peet] blindside and her alliance. So it was really disappointing. I thought I was in a really good place.
Reality TV World: Once you saw the results of the tribal swap in last night's episode with there being three Goliath members on every tribe compared to two David members, did you anticipate the Davids were going to be wiped out? Were you therefore surprised when Natalia went home?
Bi Nguyen: I was surprised Natalia went home. I was surprised she went home so early, but I wasn't surprised she went home because she's physically strong and she's a beautiful girl and she's very, very intelligent. So I wasn't shocked about that.
As far as the David numbers with the Goliaths after the swap, I was sad obviously, because I had something to do with that! Me leaving left a low number, so I was guilty, sad, and all of these other emotions.
But as a fan watching now, I am excited and as their friend, I have so much faith in them. This is how they function best. This is how Davids function best.
I mean, even though there are some people who say the swap was too early, they may have swapped on different islands, but they are still true Davids vs. Goliaths within each little swapped tribe. So I'm just excited as a fan to watch them rise through the ashes again.