Exclusive: Colton Cumbie talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 03/22/2012
Colton Cumbie, an openly gay 21-year-old college student from Monroeville, AK, was eliminated from Survivor: One World's Manono tribe during Wednesday night's sixth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.
Rather than being voted out at the season's sixth Tribal Council session, Colton was medically evacuated and removed from the game after it was determined he appeared to be suffering from acute appendicitis and in need of emergency surgery.
On Thursday, Colton talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World experience -- including whether he really had appendicitis and what his recovery process was like following his ouster from the game, what he had to say about his many insulting and offensive comments made throughout his time on the show, who he surprisingly wanted to give his hidden Immunity Idol to once he could no longer compete, and why he insisted he had problems with Bill Posley in lieu of criticism that he's a racist.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Colton. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second portion.
Reality TV World: How did things end up going for you health-wise after you were taken out of the game? I know your appendix surgery was back in last summer at this point, so I'm assuming things are fine, but how did things go at the time? Were there any complications and what was your recovery time like?
Colton Cumbie: Actually, what happened was, I was taken to a hospital in Samoa and then I was transported to a hospital in New Zealand. Because obviously, Survivor didn't want me to be operated on in a third-world country. But I went to New Zealand, and when I got to New Zealand, they found out -- initially they thought food poisoning.
We were like, "That's really ironic because we haven't been eating." And so, finally, they ran a test and they found out that I had a severe bacterial infection, basically, in my gut. And so I had to do a round of antibiotics in New Zealand and then whenever I got back home to the states, I had to do another round of antibiotics.
And whenever I got home, they did another CT Scan, because they still thought it could be appendicitis. And so, they did the CT scan and I had a bad reaction to the dye, and it was just a horrible state of affairs.
Reality TV World: So it wasn't actually your appendix then, right?
Colton Cumbie: That's what I've been telling people. I'm like anyone who's making a shrine to my appendix, you need to throw your candles away, because I still have it!
Reality TV World: So I've seen all 24 seasons of Survivorand been doing exit interviews with castaways for a long time, and I can't immediately recall anyone becoming so controversial in what ended up being such a relatively short period of time on the show. (Laughs) What are your thoughts about that?
Colton Cumbie: Yeah. (Laughs) You know, I'm obviously a polarizing character. I mean, but that's why people watch the show, isn't it? to see -- I mean, can you imagine watching South Pacific over and over and over or Redemption Island? But no. My thoughts on how people feel about me, obviously I've said a million times, I think my comments were ignorant -- some of them.
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A lot of them, there really was an underlying humor to the things I said. You really just have to know me and understand me to appreciate my humor. But you know, I think there definitely were some people who were offended by the things that I said. Like, I think that they were actually hurt and offended and it was very off-putting for them.
And to those people, I do say, "I'm sorry and I apologize." I just don't probably feel that way about anyone. But I also think there were just people who were looking for any reason to hate me. And to those people, I say "You're welcome."
Reality TV World: Would you like to offer any specifics on who some of those people might be? (Laughs)
Colton Cumbie: I think there are some people who just -- from the moment they saw me, they see me as a feminine male. I'm not playing the gay card, so don't think that for a second, but I think some people see me and they think -- they make fun of the way I run or they make fun of the way I do things.
It's kind of ironic because I don't want to seem delusional, but I was actually pretty good at a majority of the challenges. You didn't see me in the first one, but I dominated the balance beam. The reason we won that second challenge was because I knew what it was from the Tree Mail, and so I actually lined the guys up on a log and made them practice before we went.
There were several challenges, like the basketball challenge, I head onto that ball for dear life, but look who I was competing against. If you put Michael Jordan against [Lebron James], [Kobe Bryant] and [Shaquille O'Neal], I mean, you're probably not going to do too well.
Reality TV World: You came across as very unlikable and unnecessarily nasty at some points during your time on the show. So are you saying that you didn't have an awareness of that while you were out there and it was a surprise to you?
Colton Cumbie: No, no, no. I was definitely aware of the things I was saying, obviously, but I didn't realize how nasty they were. Because it's one of those things where until you actually watch yourself back on television, you really don't get it. You're in the moment and you say things.
Anyone who says they've never said anything in the moment -- and then you have to put into effect, I mean, I'm not making excuses, but we're starving. We're thirsty. I'm literally dying. I mean, you're going to say things that you regret and it's a game. And that's the thing.
At the end of the day, the way that you are in the game is not the way that you are in life. Like I know that [Alicia Rosa] is not the way -- like she's really not that evil. You have to just really get to know people and that's the thing. Obviously the viewers at home, they're never going to know us. All they know is what they see on television.
Reality TV World: So for example, during last night's episode, Alicia and yourself appeared to be unnecessarily mean to Christina Cha to the point where it honestly seemed like a pretty ugly case of bullying behavior. What's your comment on that?
Colton Cumbie: Yeah, and that's the thing. Obviously, you don't see everything and so, it seemed like we were doing it just for the fun of it. But really, I don't know about Alicia, but I know they had problems back on Salani.
I can't speak for her, but for me personally, I had no problem with Christina whatsoever until -- I was very close with [Kim Spradlin] and Kim and I almost had like a brother and sister-type relationship. Christina came to me and told me, "Some of the girls want you gone. They don't trust you."
And I was like, "Well, who?" And she said, "Kim." And I just immediately was very -- that was very off-putting to me, because I was like, "You know what? I don't even have a relationship with you. I don't believe you. I think you're lying. I think you're just trying to weezle your way out of this." And that was one reason why I had a problem with her.
And then the second thing was, she was constantly basically trying to save herself, which no one can blame her for. But she would pull [Jonas Otsuji] to the side or pull [Leif Manson] to the side and try to whisper things to them.
Just like you saw when Alicia walked up on her, and I almost wanted to create a fear that -- like "Boston Rob" [Rob Mariano] style -- if you go against me or if you so much as even talk to her, I will send you home. And so that's kind of where it came from. Did I take it to a whole other level than it ever should have went to? Yes. But there was some strategy involved. It wasn't just me being downright nasty.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed Jonas suggesting that your appendicitis may have been karmic payback for your prior behavior in the game, and some viewers have been voicing similar sentiments today saying it's an example of God punishing you or things like that. (Laughs) What are your thoughts about that?
Colton Cumbie: Call it "Divine Intervention," call it karma, call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, I found out the hard way there is indeed a bigger b-tch than me. So...
Reality TV World: The show danced around it a little when it happened, but it was suggested there were racial issues behind your dislike of Bill. So I just want to give you a chance to respond to that.
Colton Cumbie: Definitely not. I think Bill knows this. I mean, everyone knows this. I'm not racist at all. I'm a very live and let live type of person. I have no problem with anybody because of something like that, especially something they can't help. My issue with Bill was I felt like -- when you're out there, every day seems like strategy.
Everything -- when a person eats a certain way, when they breathe a certain way, it seems like strategy. So with Bill, what I think looking back on it, I've obviously -- I'm eating, I'm drinking, I'm more level-thinking now or whatever -- level-headed and I actually can think about the situation now and assess it better.
I think Bill was literally just telling us about his life and he was telling us things like, "I'm really poor. I've grown up poor. I'm a struggling artist." He never told us about serving in Iraq or anything like that, he just told us he was struggling and he didn't have a home -- that he was basically homeless and went from couch to couch and was always sleeping on a different couch.
And my thing was, I know what this guy's going to do. I know he's going to get to the end and he's going to play this card and then obviously, it's human nature to give it to someone in need. And so, if I'm sitting there beside him in final three, people are going to totally not even think about how well I played this game and executed every plan that I wanted.
But they're going to give it to him just because he needs it. If I'm sitting on the jury and there's someone sitting there saying basically, "I really need this money," then I'm probably going to give it to them. And so, that was my issue and I again, took it to a whole other level that it never should have gone to. But again, there was strategy behind it.
Reality TV World: What made you decide to keep the hidden Immunity Idol instead of giving it to one of your allies? A lot of viewers have criticized that as a pretty selfish move.
Colton Cumbie: I wanted to give it to someone on Salani. I wanted to give it to Jay, but I was told I had to give it to someone on Manono. And so at that point, I was like, "You know what? I'm just going to keep it."
Reality TV World: Why Jay? We didn't see a lot of you and Jay being particularly close.
Colton Cumbie: Yeah, you didn't see it, but we were allies from Day 1. Jay was actually my closest ally in the entire game. He was the one person that I 100% percent under no circumstances would have ever voted out.
Reality TV World: So it wasn't Tarzan? Because Tarzan kind of seemed to be like your right-hand man to your little Godfather-like role. He seemed to come to your defense all the time.
Colton Cumbie: Tarzan was, yeah. But yeah, so did Jay. You don't see it, but so did Troy, so did Jay. I mean, a lot of guys came to my defense. They just chose to show Tarzan. That Tribal Council with Bill, Troy and Jay also came to my defense and came to my aid, but you just didn't see that.
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the second half of our exclusive interview with Colton.