Exclusive: Alan Ball talks 'Survivor' -- I still think Ashley Nolan and JP Hilsabeck were hiding a secret!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/25/2017
Alan Ball was voted out of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers after a tribal swap during the latest episode on CBS.
Alan, a 31-year-old NFL player from Detroit, MI who currently resides in Houston, TX, was voted out of his new "Levu" tribe -- which was comprised of a mix of Healers, Hustlers and Heroes -- on Day 11 of the game through a 2-2 vote instead of his personal target, Joe Mena, a 34-year-old probation officer from Bronx, NY who currently resides in Tolland, CT.
Although it was a tie vote in which Desi Williams voted for Alan and Ashley Nolan voted for Joe, Joe played a hidden Immunity Idol for himself, meaning the votes against him did not count.
Meanwhile, Alan's fifth tribemate and assumed ally, Devon Pinto, received a secret "advantage" from a castaway on an opposing tribe that actually blocked his ability to vote.
During a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Alan talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: At the time you left the game, did you assume Joe and Desi were going to go after Ashley next or Devon? And why?
Alan Ball: I think they're going to -- they have to go after Ashley. I don't think, looking at the game in its entirety, anyone views any Hustler as a real threat and keeping the Hustlers together as a threat.
I feel like you can let the Hustlers remain in the game and they are going to kind of latch on to whatever they can, just by the way that they operate when we were all in our initial tribes. So I think that trying to eliminate the rest of the Heroes, I think people are intimidated by the Heroes.
I think all the other tribes were really intimidated by what we had, even though they didn't know what was going on within our tribe, from outside looking in, they were intimidated. And I think that by getting rid of me, and next, getting rid of Ashley, it's kind of bringing the Heroes down even more.
So I think that, if anything, if I was playing the game and I saw it through their eyes, that's what I would think they would do. But you never know; [Joe] might look at Devon as a threat, as he saw me as a threat.
I feel like he sees power against him as intimidation. I feel like he's easily intimidated. So he may try to make the tribe even weaker so he can be stronger, as I said initially, and that may be his thing in terms of how you can combat things with his ego.
Reality TV World: I'd like you to clarify a couple of things for me. Going back to your original Heroes tribe, did you actually believe Ashley and [JP Hilsabeck] were a power couple, and did you also really believe JP had a hidden Immunity Idol? I'm wondering if those were genuine concerns or you were just pretending in order to keep a target on them and off of you.
Alan Ball: So, I don't think I had a target on me, but I do believe there was something going on between Ashley and JP. I do think they were hiding something; I still think they had a little secret that they were keeping amongst themselves.
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But I don't think they were a power couple, no. But I think they were trying to get as strong as they could together as two. And initially when we decided to go with a core four, I think that two out of the four were trying to become stronger than the four, which I didn't like.
And I also didn't like the two of them being that strong within the tribe. So for me, it was like, "Okay, if I have this sense about what you're doing, I'm going to add as much fuel to this as I can."
So at that point, it just became, regardless of my suspicion at that point, it became gameplay. So now, I'm going to throw in there that you're a power couple and I'm going to throw in there that I think you have an idol.
Even though I didn't know they had an idol -- I hadn't seen that they had an idol -- I knew they had a secret. I knew that there was something that they were hiding. And it hasn't come out yet and it hasn't been confirmed, but I still believe that.
So, (laughs) at that point, it was kind of like, "I'm here and I've got to ride with it. Because I've caused [chaos] a little bit, I've just got to ride with it and add as much fuel as I can out here." And you know, at that point, it was just really about putting the target on their backs.
For me, it was kind of like, "If I can get [Ben Driebergen] and [Chrissy Hofbeck] to see that they can work with a single person as [opposed] to working with two people working together, it's going to be me."
Because we knew [Katrina Radke] was going home, so at the end of the day, I'm in the strength of the Hero tribe now if I can get Ben and Chrissy to see what I'm seeing. And that put JP and Ashley on a lower level and put them in the minority in the tribe. So I think at that point, I weighed everything, and that's what I was trying to get accomplished.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you think the plan was effective then, that you did gain something from it.
Alan Ball: Yeah, no question! No question. I think through that, I got closer with Ben and through that I got closer with Chrissy. Now, I'm sure they had -- as you can see, they had some decisions they had to make in terms of going forward, but I think as I was working, I was solidifying more and more and more, "Hey, there's something going on with those two and you all can trust me that I'm with y'all."
Reality TV World: Watching the season back, did it surprise you to see Ben and Chrissy's tight alliance with each other? Because it sounds like you thought you were solid with them as well, but they are more of a power couple.
Alan Ball: Yeah, it did surprise me. I did think I was solid with them. I think the way things played out, I think we had a little bit more to go in terms of our tribe staying together. I think everybody would've seen the dynamic of the relationship, and I don't think there was enough time to see it.
But I definitely think I was solidified with Ben and Chrissy, and I wasn't surprised at all that they got close. I mean, for me, it was like, "Okay, I've shown them that they think I'm a Wild Card." So, for them to get to the end of the game, they need to do the best they can, and to do that, they must put themselves in the best situation.
And obviously, if I've drawn a circle around JP and Ashley working together, they know that they're going to be the odd men out over there. Now, working with me, yeah, I'm a Wild Card, so who's your best option?
It's [sticking with] each other. So that's what they did, and it's a part of the game to get a chance to get to the end and win, so they put themselves in the best situation to win, which you can't fault them for that. That's the game!
Reality TV World: At the tribal swap, Desi assumed your tribe was going to be very strong and physically-dominant in the challenges. So what do you think happened there? Why did you struggle so much in the first couple of challenges?
Alan Ball: Ugh, you know, I thought that when we first swapped and we were standing on that mat. I looked at the tribe and said, "Okay, we're going to be pretty strong." And I still think Devon is a strong player, and I feel Desi is a strong player.
I think Ashley has her strengths in the game. She's a little standoffish and she's not the best competitor, but I still think she has her strengths. I think I'm a competitor in the game. I don't think Joe is as much of a competitor as he makes himself out to be in terms of what he thinks personally.
But after we did that first challenge for the peanut butter and jelly, I knew we were in trouble. I knew the way me, Joe and Ashley worked together on those ropes, the way I saw Joe even attempt to toss that rope onto that sled, I knew we were in trouble in terms of who we had and in terms of what we were working with competition-wise. I knew we were in trouble.