Exclusive: Bradley Kleihege talks 'Survivor: Ghost Island' -- I went on 'Survivor' wanting to be a villain!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/05/2018
Bradley Kleihege was eliminated from Survivor: Ghost Island from the new Naviti tribe after Malolo finally won an Immunity Challenge during Wednesday night's episode on CBS.
Bradley, a 26-year-old law student from Haslett, MI, was voted out of Naviti on Night 19 of the game at Tribal Council through a unanimous vote. Bradley had cast his sole vote for Libby Vincek, a 24-year-old social media strategist from Houston, TX.
Bradley did not see his ouster coming, as the tribe apparently targeted him for personal reasons when he had assumed he was getting along fabulously with the group. Bradley was also a surprising choice for the vote given he's an original Naviti member and they had the numbers -- 3 Naviti to 2 Malolo -- after the latest tribal swap.
"I was blindsided 100 percent, but as a Super Fan of Survivor, there's no way I'd rather go out... I could've done a whole lot better. I feel like if I made it to the merge, I would have won the game, so hats off to [them]," Bradley said in his final words.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Bradley talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the first portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: You definitely seemed blindsided by your vote-off. How did you expect the vote to turn out, that Domenick and Chelsea would be voting out Libby with you?
Bradley Kleihege: I did, yeah. I thought we were going to vote Libby, but I will say, after we got back from the challenge, the energy, there was definitely something up. I thought the energy was really strange around camp.
The problem with that was I didn't feel I had enough of a notion that maybe they were going to flip on me to really make a big deal about it at Tribal, because what I didn't want to do was end up voting myself off.
And so, that's why you hear me say, you know, "Everything is great at camp. Everyone is getting along. It's going swimmingly," I think I said. Was it 100 percent? No, not at all.
But that's kind of what I thought I needed to say if they weren't going to flip on me because -- I guess I was weighing it in my head, and I would rather have been blindsided than to have gotten myself voted out because I blew things up and they weren't actually going to flip on me.
So yeah, I was surprised, but also not shocked, if that makes sense. It kind of goes both ways.
Reality TV World: Watching last night's episode, were you surprised by Domenick Abbate and Chelsea Townsend's reasoning for voting you out? And do you think their decision was a completely personal one?
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Bradley Kleihege: So, to that degree, Dom will tell you that he voted me out because he thought I was a threat and that I had been voting out all the people with kids. It was not nearly for as personal a reason as they made it look, and that's what [Jeff Probst] told me as soon as I got voted out, that it was an issue of being a threat.
I think what people don't see from watching that edit was, at that point in time, I wasn't regarded as a Final Tribal Goat, somebody that they can take to the end and just beat, which I think gets lost on the viewer from what we saw on TV.
Because it looks like I was being over the top and ridiculous. Are there elements of that in my personality? Yeah, absolutely. But that wasn't what they were operating off, mainly. I think if it was truly an issue of, "Oh, he's kind of annoying," Dom is a good enough player, he would have kept me.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask if you thought the episode's editing made you look worse than you really were out there. It sounds like you think it did? (Laughs)
Bradley Kleihege: No, well, here's the thing about my edit: I've been watching Survivorsince I was nine, and I've always loved the villain characters. I wanted to go on Survivorand be a villain and be over the top.
And the hardest part of that is, like, lost on some people. It's that there's just this element of being self-aware and that's what I was doing. I don't want around in my normal life, like, "I underestimated myself," and, "I'm going to be fantastic at everything," stuff like that.
I never say that! I also would never go up to someone and be like, "Hey, I'm really smart." That's just not me at all, but in the game, my main goal was to go in there and make the season as good as possible and to make as good of TV as possible, and that's what I did.
Are there definitely elements of what you saw on TV that are 100 percent a part of me? Absolutely. But I think the difference is, in real life, I try to make it very, very apparent to the people I'm around that I know I'm doing it and that I'm doing it in kind of an ironic or sarcastic way that's playful.
Because I think if you look at my edit and you look at how I acted on the show, you'll see that I was never malicious and I never bullied anybody, so it really is kind of all in good fun.
And I think what you see is a lot of people picked up on that and some people didn't, which is fine, that's the same as it goes in real life. So yeah, I was definitely playing up the ridiculousness one hundred percent, and that kind of plays into what Dom would tell you in that I was perceived as a threat.
Because if you just looked at my edit, you'd be like, "There's no way he was ever going to win." And do I think I would have won? I would have had to have had the perfect two people sitting next to me.
But I think there was a possibility, and I think if you watched it on TV, you'd be like, "No, there was never a shot in the world." (Laughs)
He thought after I voted off [Brendan Shapiro] and [Stephanie Johnson] that I was voting off jury threats and parents. That's not what I was doing, and I would not have flipped on him for a while -- probably, if he hadn't flipped on me.
That being said, I'm not positive... I love my edit. It's been highly entertaining to watch it on TV, because I know it's me being ridiculous and me being over the top.
And it's kind of fun to see how riled up people have gotten about it, because I know who I am, and the people I'm super close with from my season, you know, from Ghost Island now that we're back, see that that's me being ridiculous and trying to be a Survivor villain. And I don't think it's a bad edit at all.
I don't condone for half a second anyone on the Internet saying the editors are bashing me, or any of that stuff. The editors aren't. You know, I go and get beer with the people that put together these episodes. We go to dinner, you know? It's not that at all.
Reality TV World: What do you make of your friendship with Domenick on the show? Because it seemed like you were rubbing him the wrong way as well. Do you think your friendship was genuine? If so, do you believe his opinion of you changed in a negative way during your last few days onSurvivor?
Bradley Kleihege: No, Dom and I were pretty close from the beginning. He was -- it's definitely true when he says he thought I was talking down to him. What he's referring to is when we were originally at Naviti, everybody was gunning for Dom because Dom was out of control and he wasn't getting along with anyone. He was bossing everybody around.
I was working with Dom and I pulled him aside a couple of times and was like, "Dom, come on, man! You've got to chill out a little bit." And it's Dom, you know?
Dom likes to be out of control and do whatever he wants, and he didn't like that. So that's what he was referring to when he talks about that.
But yeah, I don't think that's why he got rid of me. I think that's why [Donathan Hurley] voted for me! Donathan didn't like me. And so, I think Dom is a very, very good player. He's running circles around almost everybody.
And I think he picked up on the fact that Donathan actually didn't like me, and so he tailored his angle and pitch for getting me out on the personal stuff. But yeah, [Dom] would 100 percent tell you it was because he thought his game was in danger if he left me in the game.
Be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for more from our exclusive Survivor: Ghost Island interview with Bradley Kleihege.