Exclusive: Bradley Kleihege talks 'Survivor: Ghost Island' and Domenick Abbate vs. Chris Noble rivalry
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/11/2018
Bradley Kleihege was eliminated from Survivor: Ghost Island from the new Naviti tribe after Malolo finally won an Immunity Challenge during the latest 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 second 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 a recent exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Bradley talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: The preview for next week's episode shows Domenick Abbate and Chris Noble's rivalry exploding and castaways having to choose a side. You were on Naviti at the beginning of the season with the guys, so can you explain what their rivalry was really about? Did you view either guy as being right or wrong?
Bradley Kleihege: I am 100 percent "Team Domenick." Chris is obnoxious. I think what you're seeing is a far less harmful version of what Chris actually was on the island edit-wise. He's just so over the top, and I'll be the first to say he's TV gold. I mean, he's fantastic on the TV, but he was obnoxious to live with.
Yeah, I mean, it was definitely brewing. Those two hated each other from the very beginning. I think the rest of us kind of sat back and watched it all go down. It was like, "This is the dumbest thing we've ever seen." It was just very bizarre.
Why did the two of you hate each other so quickly and so strongly? It doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. But yeah, Dom could not get Chris out of his head, and Chris couldn't get Dom out of his head. It was a highly-entertaining dynamic, but I definitely was "Team Dom."
Reality TV World: What were your plans for the merge? Which castaways were you hoping to stick with and reunite with? And were you starting to form an ideal Final 3 scenario in your mind?
Bradley Kleihege: Yeah, so my Final 3 scenario was I wanted to take [Sebastian Noel] and [Jenna Bowman]. I thought I could beat both of them. I love Sebastian. What you didn't see was Sebastian and I were insanely close out there. We're good friends now and we were really, really close out on the island.
So I thought I could beat him because he wasn't playing any kind of a strategic game; he was just out there to have fun. And same with Jenna, she didn't really know what was going on, and she was fun to hang out with! So I thought, "Yeah, I'll take these guys to the end and I think I can win."
I didn't think either of them would have a very compelling story to tell at Final Tribal, and I thought I was playing strategically, so I could do that.
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But immediately with the merge, and a huge bummer was at that point, [Kellyn Bechtold] and I were working with [Michael Yerger] and Michael was a close ally of ours, which you don't see so much.
You see that he votes with me and Kellyn for the [Stephanie Johnson] vote and then he votes again with Kellyn on the [James Lim] vote. But you don't really see the relationship so much, and so the three of us were really tight.
And so, we were going to reunite, which is why I voted for [Libby Vincek]. I wanted Libby to go because Michael and Libby had been working together, and I knew that Michael didn't really have many options, but he still had Libby.
If I could get rid of Libby, then he would literally have no option in the game because [Brendan Shapiro] and Stephanie were gone and he would have to work with Kellyn and myself. And so I wanted to solidify that he had no option and he had to work with us.
From there, I was working with [Wendell Holland] and [Desiree Afuye] was super close. So going into the merge, we would have had Kellyn, Michael, Des, Jenna and Sebastian, as well as [Chelsea Townsend]. Kellyn would've had Chelsea. I wouldn't have had Chelsea. We never really got along or liked each other too much.
Well, I should say we got along perfectly fine; we just never liked each other. We never trusted each other in the game. So, I think I had a lot of options and anyone in my position would sit here and say, "If I made it one more day, I could've made a real run for it." But I think that's definitely a possibility.
I had -- even though the edit makes it look like no one could stand me and I had no social skills whatsoever -- I had a lot of really close bonds out there. And I think those were putting me in a really, really great position if I could have made it one more day. If I had made it to that merge, it would have been a whole new game for me.
Reality TV World: What do you think of the whole Ghost Island twist in general? Are you a fan of it, or do you think it introduces too many idols or advantages into the game? Last night alone, two idols were found as well as an extra vote.
Bradley Kleihege: I mean, I think that's just kind of how it goes. I think that's not necessarily planned, and hey, in a three-day period, that's when the idols were found. I don't know if it's necessarily too much. My general philosophy is I prefer less advantages and less idols.
Because I think the reason why I like Survivor -- and it's part of my philosophy of why I went in wanting to be a villain and wanting to make the season as entertaining as possible and being this kind of character perse -- is that what I think makes great Survivor is good gameplay but mainly good casting, interesting people who interact with each other in interesting ways.
I just think it takes away from that when you have a bunch of really strategic gamers that have all of these advantages. It kind of takes away from what's really fun about it at its core, and that's you are having to live in adverse conditions with crazy people, because we're all crazy! I mean, that goes without saying.
Everyone's a little nutty. It's like, we all passed the psych evaluation, but not by much. And so, I just prefer the social dynamic, and that's why I like watching it in addition to the strategy.
But I mean, I like Ghost Island. I think if I were [Survivorhost Jeff Probst] and I was getting to run it, I think I would have had the game open every time, and I would have had a more difficult challenge.
Because then it really feels, as a contestant I think, when you go to Ghost Island, you have your fate in your hands. You know, you could choose to play or not. You could choose to risk your vote to get an advantage and then just make it harder to limit the number of advantages in the game.