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Gordon Holmes: A vote for Laurel would have bought you another round. That’s gotta be heartbreaking.
Michael Yerger: It’s hard. Hindsight is 20/20. It sucks knowing I was so close. I was pretty confident going into it that we were going to get a blindside on Wendell. But, me and Kellyn didn’t know how close Wendell and Laurel were. It was hard. I wish I knew. But, me, Laurel, and Kellyn, the plan was to blindside Wendell.
Holmes: Honestly, the whole, “Hey, I have an idol, but I’m not going to show it to you.” It blows my mind that that worked on Kellyn. Why do you think she bought it?
Yerger: I really think it was because I’d talked to Donathan about it. I knew what the idol was. I knew which season it was from. I seemed to know everything about it. It gave me ammunition to use in that lie. On the beach I was able to say it’s the super idol from Kaoh Rong and blah blah blah. She didn’t question it. And she knew I’d been looking for idols out there when I could. So, I don’t think it was hard to her believe. But, Dom was an idol guy out there too, so he wised up pretty quickly. I reached out to Donathan to see if he’d let me use the idol to help me, so that sucked that he was a little bit selfish in that way.
Holmes: So Kellyn never asked to see the idol?
Yerger: She never once asked me to see the idol. She just trusted me, which is hard because with that James idol back on Malolo beach, I stretched the power and she fell for that.
Holmes: We know now that Laurel and Donathan are close with Domenick and Wendell. Did you know that was going on when you were out there?
Yerger: I knew they were getting pulled in different directions. They had always been in the middle between the alliance I was in and the Naviti alliances. I knew that was going on. They really tricked us well, saying they were working as ambassadors and getting information. They’d say they knew they couldn’t win if they got to the end with them. Maybe when they said that they were keeping their options open. So, I credit them for that.
Holmes: I feel like you’ve got this Dom/Wendell alliance that is packing a few idols. And the deeper into the game we get, the harder they are going to be to eliminate. Why aren’t people rising up to take them out?
Yerger: (Laughs) Dude! It beats me! I can’t figure out why people aren’t ready to do it! When you have numbers, you have to make those moves. You’ve got to get out a big dog and build your resume. I don’t know if it was out of fear or they were worried about blowing up their game. It’s playing safe to a certain extent. I’ve got to trust that they thought they were doing what was best for their game. And thank God for Des. She was the only one willing to make a move. She saw the trajectory the game was going. And then Laurel has to be a loudmouth and leak it. There are so many of those things where we had an opportunity to blindside one of those guys. It doesn’t make any sense, it’s very frustrating.
Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Brendan.
Yerger: Heroic. The dude’s a leader. I love the guy.
Yerger: Scaredy cat. Pitiful.
Yerger: Level headed. Arrogant at times.
Yerger: Risky. She was willing to do it with us. Ballsy.
Yerger: Giddy. He was so excited to play.
Yerger: Oh man…princess…charming.
Yerger: High-strung and empathetic.
Yerger: Persuasive. She was incredible.
Yerger: Chill, laid-back, I love the girl.
Yerger: Analyitcal, stoic.
Yerger: Smooth. Very charismatic.
Holmes: Sea Bass?
Yerger: Love the dude, but I’d say clueless.
Yerger: Aimless. I don’t think she had a reason for anything that she did.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Chelsea.
Yerger: She was very under-the-radar. She was never super outspoken. Like a spy.
Holmes: Angela made a big show of throwing you under the bus, but you were already under there…setting up camp. What was your take on that?
Yerger: I was under the bus already. I was not in a great position. But, that definitely made things worse because I was not on Wendell’s radar at that time. So, for her to blow that up was not a good thing. At that time Wendell and Dom saw me as an advantage to keep me around as a meat shield. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why she did it, because she could have worked with us to pull off a blindside.
Holmes: There needs to be a “Survivor” stat for how long people manage to stick around after they become the #1 target. Like instead of a pitcher’s ERA you have an EAT – Episodes After Targeting. If there were, yours would probably be very impressive. Is that something you’re proud of?
Yerger: I really am. I wish somethings were different. I wish I had the power and could make some bigger moves. But, I’m proud of what I did.
Holmes: What was the reaction from your Malolo buddies when they learned your real age?
Yerger: It didn’t change a thing with me and Jenna. Same with Libby, that was in our Ponderosa. But, I didn’t make it a priority to tell anybody else. I didn’t want it to be a factor in our relationships. When the game was over, people started finding out through the grapevine and the reactions were pretty damn funny. Dom and Brendan and Kellyn especially. They were baffled.
Holmes: Were they like, “I was wondering why Michael kept asking me to buy him beer.”
Yerger: (Laughs) Not quite. But, they had some red flags. But I felt the worst about Kellyn. We got really close out there and we had some big talks and I didn’t like lying on a deep, personal level like that.