Exclusive: Tyson Apostol talks about his time on 'Survivor: Tocantins'
By John Bracchitta, 04/24/2009
Survivor: Tocantins has seen its share of blindsides, but none have been so true to their name as the one that got the best of Tyson Apostol.
After spending 27 days in the Brazilian Highlands and growing confident that he had orchestrated the elimination of Sierra Reed, the 29-year-old bike-shop manager and former professional cyclist from Linden, UT was shocked when he learned that the remaining castaways had decided to take advantage of the first Tribal Council session in which he did not win the individual Immunity Idol and boot him from the competition during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
On Friday, Tyson spoke to Reality TV World about what, if anything, he could have done to avoid his elimination had he known he was on the chopping block, why his relationship with Sierra was as icy in real life as it seemed on the show, and how much, if any, of his confident and boastful attitude was just an act to create good television.
Reality TV World: So is it safe to say that you had no idea your elimination was coming as you left for Tribal Council?
Tyson: Yeah that's pretty safe to say. I mean, I could've avoided it had I had any clue whatsoever but I didn't. They got the best of me I guess.
Reality TV World: Was there any inkling at all before the Tribal Council or during the Council discussion, or did you not suspect anything until you saw your name start coming up?
Tyson: I really didn't expect anything, I should have. I mean you'd think that with [Survivor host Jeff Probst] firing all the questions at me and Sierra that it would be one of us two, but I really didn't suspect at all until the second time my name was called, because the first time I just figured that was Sierra's vote.
Reality TV World: In your exit statement you copped to maybe being a little bit too confident. Do you think that the way you acted out there made the target on your back even bigger than it would've if you had maybe laid under the radar a little more?
Tyson: Um, no not really. I mean for the most part everybody out there liked me and I got along with everybody. You see it even with [James "JT" Thomas Jr.] and [Stephen Fishbach] they were like "We like Tyson, but he is a big threat." Probably if I hadn't been as arrogant verbally and not competed 100% in the challenges, that might have made a difference. But going into the game I didn't want to... For example, if I had held back on all the challenges and still gotten voted out then I would've regretted the way I played.
But this way I showed what I can do and I got voted out for being too awesome, now it's kinda the story of my life.
Reality TV World: You also came across as a bit of a narcissist in your confessional interviews. Was that a situation where you were just enjoying the game and playing for the cameras or is that part of your real personality?
Tyson: It's both. I mean the beauty of the game is that they cast me to be myself, some reality shows don't. So they put me out there and just had me do my own thing. And yeah if I thought of something clever I definitely wanted to say it for the camera. That made for some good TV didn't it?
Reality TV World: Oh yeah definitely.
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Tyson: Yeah so I mean that's who I am, and it helps if I have, oh I don't know, a couple of writers to feed me lines and stuff. I can do a lot of it by myself as well. I'm uneducated, you might be shocked to learn that but I don't have a degree.
Reality TV World: Okay. Some viewers have been speculating that there's some kind of love/hate relationship going on between you and Sierra. Can you explain why you two clashed so much?
Tyson: I wouldn't say it was a love/hate, I'd say it was more of just a dislike. She just, from the very beginning, really bothered me with her blind ignorance at everything. She just thought she was the bees knees all the time and didn't realize that people found her annoying and thought that things she said were stupid. So for me I took it, (sarcastically) as the saint that I am, to kind of show her the error of her ways and hopefully after watching it on TV she would change her ways and become a better person for it and live a happy life.
Reality TV World: You were obviously pretty confident Sierra was going to be going home next, but what did you see happening after she was gone and there was no one else left for your big "anti-[Brendan Synnott]" alliance of seven to target? Did you really think that [Erinn Lobdell] and [Tamara "Taj" Johnson-George] would just rollover and be the next victims of your "Warrior Alliance" or did you have something else in mind?
Tyson: Well I just figured that they... (Pauses) They didn't know that we had an alliance like that. Well they might have but they weren't supposed to.
So we're just going to keep them in the dark and make them think that they were not going and then blindside them as well. Basically my strategy was to always keep the numbers on the people I trusted. And before that moment I had always assumed Erinn was on my side, though she was impossible to bond with in any way shape or form. She's kinda like talking to a robot or a brick wall or something.
But I figured that, you know what we'll vote Sierra out and then after that we can vote Taj out, and that will be our five. And that way we'll always keep the numbers so that we never have the risk of them taking power.
Reality TV World: At least the way [Benjamin "Coach" Wade] talked about her, [Debra "Debbie" Beebe] wasn't exactly in on that "Warrior alliance." -- what was your plan for her?
Tyson: I don't know what Coach's plan was for her, but my plan for her was to have Coach, myself and her be the Final 3 and then go from there.
Reality TV World: Did you ever get concerned that Debbie might get worried by all of Coach's "strongest warriors to the end" talk and betray you guys?
Tyson: She did a little bit, but Coach could justify anybody as the strongest so it just didn't matter. If Debbie questioned it, [Coach would say she was] the strongest as far as the social game goes.
Reality TV World: How did you see the Final 4 playing out?
Tyson: I saw myself just winning all of the challenges all the way up to the finale and then choosing whoever I wanted to go to the finale with. The one thing I didn't foresee was competing in a challenge that required absolutely no skill or talent.
Reality TV World: Like the one [on last night's show]?
Tyson: Yeah the one yesterday, that was completely dumb luck. You just close your eyes and throw this pog... It was kinda ridiculous. That's my one disappointment with the show in general is just that the challenge, really, they may as well have just had us roll dice.
I understand that you have to make it so that there are challenges that anybody can win and it's not always the physically strong. At least do a puzzle or something like that where there is some skill involved.
Reality TV World: With that Immunity Challenge last night, you seemed surprised that Coach, JT, and Stephen -- but especially Coach -- all opted to sit out that Immunity Challenge and eat pizza instead of competing.
Tyson: Yeah that was kinda ridiculous... I don't eat second-rate pizza at all when I'm not playing a game for $1 million.
Reality TV World: Was there a rule that you couldn't discuss what you were going to do before revealing your rocks, it seemed like you were surprised when Coach...
Tyson: I was surprised, there was no talk. Before Coach had mentioned in previous days that if there came a challenge where they offered food he would probably take it. And I thought, you know what, okay fine he's lost of ton of weight, that's fine with me I don't really care.
But I still didn't think he would when he saw that there was a game, and we were trying so hard to hold it all together and make sure we made it to the end. That was a little bit shocking, I was a little bit disappointed in that.
Reality TV World: Speaking of Coach, you two seemed to hit it off at the beginning, but based on everything we've seen so far, he doesn't seem to be particularly good at the challenges. What made you decide to choose him as an ally?
Tyson: He was always super-honest and super-sincere to me, and that's what you need in an ally in that game, you know? You can't go in and be an ally with someone you distrust.
So for him, I always trusted him he always trusted me and that went a long way, regardless of how the challenges go, I didn't need him to win challenges I was winning them by myself. And it actually was a semi-advantage to take someone close to the finals who wasn't that great at challenges, which means I have at better chance winning the final challenge and going to the finale for the million dollars.
Reality TV World: Did your opinion of Coach change at all as the game went on? It seemed like he kinda became increasingly strange and ridiculous as the game has continued -- at least based on what's been shown on TV.
Tyson: That happened in real life. I think just [because of] the lack of food and the conditions he became more agitated with everyone around him. He was never agitated with me so it wasn't that bad, but I would hear about everybody else. So there was a time when I kind of tried to distance my self a little bit, but still be in the alliance. I still wanted keep them close but, I was just having a hard time because he would come up and say "so-and-son's doing this and it's buggin' me so bad!"
I [was] just like, "You know what dude, we're here for a million dollars. We're not here to complain about people."
Reality TV World: Did you believe any of Coach's stories were true or did you think they're all made up?
Tyson: Oh man, I don't know. What do you think?
Reality TV World: That's why I'm asking you, I have no idea!
Tyson: Me too dude. If I were to make a good guess I would say they're true with some exaggeration. But you know what, who's not gonna exaggerate while telling a story about their life. Everybody does it.
I really don't know, he's so sincere about these stories as well that it's just (Pauses) When you're sitting there you can't not believe him, like wow, that's ridiculously awesome man. All the movies I've ever seen are boring now.
Reality TV World: Did you think it was remotely odd for him, being one of the weaker male players, to keep talking about wanting to form a "warrior alliance" and taking all the strongest men to the end?
Tyson: That was a little bit ironic. Yes. (Laughs) Bur then again "the strongest" doesn't always mean the most physically strong. But it was a little bit ironic, I did definitely question that, but I don't know how this is going to work but the "warrior alliance' isn't just comprised of the physically strong.
Reality TV World: Did you understand the hypocrisy Jeff was trying to call Coach on during that Tribal Council conversation about voting Brendan out?
Tyson: Definitely. I mean I understood both sides. One was that he was going to take the warriors to the end no matter what, and Coach's side was "Well he started gunning for me, so naturally I'm gonna start gunning for him and it was a battle of two warriors and I won."
I mean, it was a little bit surprising because... to take Brendan out was my initial idea. I talked about it episodes ago but we kept winning Immunity Challenges as a team so we could never take him out. And Coach was actually against it a little at first, but I think when I started convincing [him] of it and he could see that Brendan was out for him, he didn't have a problem at that point.
Reality TV World: Jeff called Coach "a poser" in a blog entry he posted this morning...
Tyson: Oh , he did? I wasn't aware of that?
Reality TV World: Yeah, what's your reaction to that?
Tyson: Well, can you read it?
Reality TV World: No...[I don't have a copy of the entire blog post] I just have the literal quote right [now]. I just wanted to know you if you had any initial, off the cuff reaction?
Tyson: Yeah I don't know. His life seems so ridiculously awesome, everything he's done it's so hard to imagine. But yeah I don't know what Jeff is referring to when he says poser, if he's referring to all his life stories, or if he's referring to his deep meditation or his being a strong physical player. There are so many references that he could be referring to, I don't know. What did Jeff say about me?
Reality TV World: [I'm not exactly sure,] I just have Coach's quote here.
Tyson: I'm sorry I couldn't help you more.
Reality TV World: No problem. You seemed to be one of the few castaways to question Brendan's motives while he was away at Exile forming his alliance with Taj. What tipped you off that something could be up with him?
Tyson: Well I have what some people call common sense, or logic. (Laughs). It just makes sense, spending days on this deserted place with one other person and it's always Taj.
And then the one time that he could really, really destroy Taj by taking her to Exile and take her away from a reward that they won, which was food, he chose someone else and left Taj to eat.
So at that point I was like "This guy's up to something," whether he's just doing it to gain a little respect or whether he's already worked out a deal with them. I know something's going on and it needs to stop. So yeah that tipped me off, and even though I'm uneducated I can be quite intelligent at times.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for the show?
Tyson: Recruiting, I guess. In a way? I got a forward of a forward of a forward of an email that just said "If you wanna try out for Survivor email this person," and I did and history was made. (Dryly) Now you're talking to the greatest Survivor in history.