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Reality TV Interview

Jimmy Johnson ('Survivor: Nicaragua')

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Jimmy Johnson from Survivor Nicaragua

© CBS

Carrying over his real-life role as coach, Jimmy Johnson immediately took on the task of motivating his fellow Espada tribe members when things got tough on Survivor: Nicaragua. Unfortunately for him, being held in high esteem also meant that he was perceived as a threat and the 67-year-old left the series during last night's episode. We caught up with Jimmy to talk about his experiences.

Why did you admit at Tribal Council that you were one of the weakest players?
"I was just being honest. I didn't say I was the weakest, I was one of the weakest. I'm 67 years old and I think the way of the game - with no sleep or food or hot water - probably had more of an effect on someone of my age than on some of the others. But I didn't think I was in danger. I was just being upfront and honest. I didn't think I was the weakest - I thought that was Daniel."

Did it ever occur to you to point out Dan's weaknesses to your fellow tribe members?
"I didn't think I needed to because I thought it was obvious. I mean, he pulled himself out of that first challenge - he chose to sit out. There was always a concern about his knee whenever there was any running involved and he didn't really do a lot around camp. I'm not trying to trash Daniel, but I want to be upfront about who was contributing. It had been discussed with some of the other tribe members but I didn't realise that he had an alliance with Marty and Jill. The first time I realised that was last night, watching it back."

Did you know that Marty had it out for you before seeing it last night?
"No, not at all. When I was watching last night, it was a complete surprise to me. I was shocked! Marty and I, I thought, had a pretty good relationship and I thought I had convinced him that I really wasn't a threat. I knew no-one was going to give me a million bucks so he didn't have to worry about me, and I was sincere about that. I really wanted him to win the money."

It almost seemed as though you were giving Espada permission to vote you out. Were you?
"No, well, they asked me about weak players. I said from day one that I was strong and up for the challenges. I assumed that everyone would be upfront and the weak players would be Daniel and myself. I was just being honest, so if I would have said that I was one of the strongest members of the tribe, they would have looked at me and told me that I was crazy. I wish I was still there. Had I known they had considered me a threat, I would have protected myself."

You became the group motivator. How difficult was it to lead a team of such strong personalities?
"I really got thrown into that role. I didn't want to be the leader, I didn't want to be the boss. I just wanted to enjoy the adventure. That was the reason I was there, to enjoy myself. Then we got to arguing about building a shelter and making decisions that needed to be made and it came down to me to do that and to come up with the strategies for the challenges. I didn't want that, though."

Now that you've had a chance to watch it back, how does what was shown compare to what you actually experienced?
"You really can't get the full impact on how difficult it is by watching. There's really not much footage of, you know, the pouring down rain or of you lying on bamboo shivering at night and you have no food in your stomach or any water. You're dehydrated and you're tired and so watching it on television, it looks like such beautiful photography and you don't realise how difficult it actually is out there."

You've always been a big fan of the show and know how things go but you still tried to play with integrity. Do you think one can do that and still go far?
"Evidently not! But I really had thought that once it came to the point, I could form some alliances. I wanted to get into the game really late to see who I could trust and who I could bond with and who I could go the distance with. Had I known that Marty was scheming to get me out, I would probably have formed an alliance with Jane and Holly and possibly Tyrone and we would have voted Daniel out on that time. But again, I didn't realise that they were scheming to get me out. I thought I was safe!"

Would you have done anything differently if given another chance?
"Looking back on it, of course. I would have formed an alliance and voted Daniel out or Jimmy T. Lots of people wanted Jimmy T out the first week and I convinced the rest of the team not to because if we had a physical challenge, he could help us win. So even though Jimmy T wasn't one of the weaker members, I could have gotten him out or Daniel out if I'd have known that Marty was scheming to get me out."

What is it about Survivor that you love so much?
"You know, I love the action. I like to fish, I like to scuba dive. Back in the day, I did some hunting so I love just being out in nature and that was a big, big part of the show, having people out there amongst the elements. Having done the show, I don't think I'll be pitching a tent out on the beach any time soon but I did love the experience. I think the biggest wake-up call was the first night. It was probably the most difficult of all - I didn't expect it to be cold but it was really cold at night. I was soaking wet, it was down-pouring rain all night long while you're lying on a hard bamboo mat just shivering. You have no idea what tie it is but you lay there hoping the sun comes up soon. It was tough!"

Survivor: Nicaragua continues next Wednesday on CBS

> Click here to read the recap of the latest episode

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