Exclusive: Jay Byars talks about 'Survivor: One World' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/12/2012
Jay Byars, a 25-year-old model from Gaffney, SC, was eliminated from Survivor: One World's merged Tikiano tribe during Wednesday night's ninth episode of the CBS reality series' 24th edition.
Jay was voted out of his tribe at the season's ninth Tribal Council session, the third session for the mixed-gender tribe since the merge, after he was completely blindsided by the alliance he had fully trusted and expected to go far in the game with.
On Thursday, Jay talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: One World experience -- including why he thought he was so safe leading up to the Tribal Council session in which he was voted off, how he convinced himself the women were definitely going to vote for Alicia Rosa instead, why he believed the women went after him before Troy "Troyzan" Robertson, what made him decide to vote for Alicia over any of his other options, and why he thought his potential final 3 alliance wouldn't end up working out.
Below is the first half of our exclusive interview with Jay. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: So last night's episode made it look like you never really seemed to envision the possibility that [Kim Spradlin's] solution to your news that Troy had an idol and was considering playing it would be to have the girls vote for you instead. Was that really the case?
Jay Byars: Yeah, I was pretty convinced that the girls would start voting against the other girls and at that point, I chose to put my trust in somebody. I felt like you had to trust somebody to move forward, so I trusted the wrong people obviously -- [Chelsea Meissner] and Kim. I had worked and talked with them the most and I just felt like they were going to, I guess, go farther into the game with me.
Reality TV World: Why did you never envision that Kim and the women would vote for you instead of Alicia? Did you just believe Kim was really going to take you to the end or did you feel that for you to get to the end, Kim was just too important as your final 3 partner?
Jay Byars: Well, I thought for me to get far in the game, I needed to work with Kim at the time. I knew that at some time they would turn on me, but I really didn't think it was going to be that soon with so many other players just kind of coasting through the game. I thought that they might be an easier target.
But you know, I tried to tell them that Alicia was working both sides and that she was a danger to all of us and all this stuff, but their old Salani chose to stick together even after a breakup, so.
Reality TV World: So did you really believe Alicia was working both sides or did you just tell them that?
Jay Byars: No, I really did. I was convinced that she was going to work... [there were] guys that wanted to work with her, like obviously, I felt like there was no way in the world we could do an all-guy alliance coming back after the merge. I felt like there was no way that all the guys would work together, be on one accord, and vote together.
And obviously, you see [Greg "Tarzan" Smith] and [Jonas Otsuji] blow up. That's a perfect example of why I never trusted them. You never could trust Tarzan. I know where his head's at, and he just couldn't get everybody on the same page. And I knew Alicia was in with the girls. I knew she was in with the new Manono working with those guys, so I didn't trust her.
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Reality TV World: So the show showed you saying Kim was one of the final 3 you had envisioned with you in the end. Chelsea was the other person, right?
Jay Byars: Yeah.
Reality TV World: So are you saying that even though you thought you might have had a final 3, you really didn't expect the two of them to honor it and take you to the end?
Jay Byars: Right, I mean, that was kind of my deal. I went with these girls who would pick off a few girls who were just kind of, I guess, swing votes here -- we'll get rid of those.
I knew they were going to turn on Troy quicker than they would be and I kind of told them, you know, "At the right time, I don't mind helping y'all blindside Troy as long as it's not me first." And I think once Troy's idol play came out, everybody just kind of switched up their vote at Tribal and I got the worst end of the deal.
Reality TV World: What made you think Kim and Chelsea were going to go after Troy before you? Was it just because they considered him a bigger threat or something?
Jay Byars: It was because nobody wanted to carry Troy to the end. He was an awesome player, he was strategic, he was smart, and he's a fun guy to be around. So I felt like if he was sitting on that final 3, he would give a speech and he would easily win the million.
And nobody wants -- I think everybody's mind was, "Hey let's go after him." And I kind of talked with Kim and them and I got that feeling that they wanted him gone before me, and I just trusted that that would happen. But obviously, plans change.
Reality TV World: I understand that you wanted to save Kim and that's why you told her about Troy's idol. But did you ever consider just trying to play down the middle and convince Troy to vote for a girl other than Kim -- like Alicia, for example? Because that would have seemed like you could have had your cake and eat it too by getting rid of a girl and not have to reveal to Kim that Troy has the idol.
Jay Byars: Yeah, that was my goal from the whole time. I tried to tell Troy to just go ahead and vote for her, Alicia. That way, he would be safe, a girl goes home, I stay there -- I feel like we had enough votes between me, him, and I think he was going to try to work Tarzan a little bit. I had told [Leif Manson] to vote for Alicia, and I just really felt like enough people were going to vote for her.
Reality TV World: So you did that approach but last night's episode just didn't show it [all], then? And it was after Troy obviously wasn't receptive to the idea of voting off Alicia and was focused on Kim, when you went to Kim and told her about him having the idol?
Jay Byars: Yes. I think his mindset -- It's kind of like the thing with him and [Michael Jefferson]. Once he found out Mike was coming for him, he just got set on that idea of sending that person home. So it was just, I guess, too little too late.
Reality TV World: So why did you vote for Alicia? Had Kim convinced you that's what she and the women were going to be doing or were you holding out hope that Troy might change his mind?
Jay Byars: Yeah, I mean, I was still feeling like Chelsea was going to vote for Alicia. I really couldn't get a feel for them and obviously Kim was just a great liar. So she's telling me that she's going to vote for Alicia and that's cool, and I talked with [Kat Edorsson]. I just really felt like they were going to be enough votes to just say, "Alright, we'll vote Alicia out."
Reality TV World: Tarzan voted for you last night. Do you know what was going on that? Because he had seemed to be pretty adamant that the men needed to stick together if they were going to have any chance.
Jay Byars: Yeah, and that literally echoes what I said earlier. You just never could trust a guy alliance. Even from Day 1, there was just so much chaos on the Manono side and once they chose to send themselves to Tribal, that totally screwed my idea of anybody -- all the guys working together. The dumbest move in Survivorhistory here -- we're having to take part in.
Reality TV World: What was your take on that whole thing, because obviously the vote had to be unanimous, so you had to agree with it for it to happen.
Jay Byars: Well, I pleaded my case and said, "Look, I think this is a dumb move." I said, "I think it's going to come back and bite us in the butt." I said, "In a game of numbers, going into a merge, you definitely want the numbers on your side."
I said, "We already started all guys versus all girls. Let's keep it that way. Let's keep the numbers and stay strong. We can worry about blindsiding somebody later," but you're right, it was unanimous.
And me being on the bottom three at the time with the old rooster and Mike, who am I to uproar the whole majority and then have an even bigger target on my back at that time? So, I tried to voice my opinion but, you know, I was just one of two that didn't want to do it.
Reality TV World: The general impression viewers got of your gameplay out there was that between what happened with Mike's vote off last week and the way you agreed to vote Matt Quinlan off in the beginning of the game, it seemed like you played by a "any name but mine is fine" philosophy. Would you say that's accurate?
Jay Byars: I would say it was pretty close in the beginning, but once the merge, what happened -- what my think was, was getting in a core group and sticking with them and then pick them off. Obviously that didn't happen, so I had to swing around a little more. When you're a target from Day 1, I guess you have to do more of a "any name is fine but mine" type of gameplay.
Reality TV World: Troy seemed to have a pretty good plan to vote Kim off, but obviously you weren't willing to vote for Kim and Tarzan apparently wasn't willing either. (Laughs)
Jay Byars: You can never tell which way that guy was going to vote...
Above is the first half of our exclusive interview with Jay. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.