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Editor’s Note: The players were separated by gender and didn’t officially know the theme of the season when this interview took place.
Another Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted across from the giant “Boston” Rob and Sandra heads at the Island of the Idols.
Winner of “Second Chance” (2015)
Name: Jeremy Collins
Hometown: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Current Residence: Foxboro, Massachusetts
Gordon Holmes: It’s been a bit since “Second Chance,” what’ve you been up to?
Jeremy Collins: Since I last won, I went right back to work. I took two days off. I had two more kids.
Holmes: Good thing you won that million, I hear kids are not cheap.
Collins: Kids are expensive, but the older they get, the more expensive they get. My oldest two, it’s always something. Basketball or club soccer…and it’s never like 20 bucks. It’s always a hundred here or a hundred there. The young kids, they’re like nothing, diapers and snacks.
Holmes: My wife and I are looking into starting a family. I’m gonna tell her we shouldn’t bother because you told me they get expensive.
Collins: They do! But, they’re so fun. This is my day; the girls get up, they go to school. The boys wake up, I feed them, then we wrestle. We run around until the youngest one takes a nap. And then Remy just hangs out. We eat a snack, we watch TV, until Lennox wakes up and we go running again.
Holmes: When you wrestle, that’s your chance to show them who’s boss, right?
Collins: Of course. I lay down on them. They’re going to beat me sooner or later.
Holmes: Someday…but not…
Collins: Today. (Laughs) Yeah.
Holmes: And now you’re here, the twist is “Survivor: Third Chance.”
Collins: Second, second chance.
Holmes: It’s your third first chance.
Holmes: What do you think people remember about you and your game?
Collins: I think people look at me as a family man. I hope they look at me as a good father, a good husband.
Holmes: Child wrestler.
Collins: That’s it. (Laughs)
Holmes: Coming into this game, how do you use your reputation to your advantage.
Collins: I think they’ll look at me as someone who will play an idol for them. Someone they can trust. I’ll lean on the parent thing, the husband thing. This season is a lot of older people, a lot of families. My first season it was all young people, young people and Keith Nale.
Collins: (Laughs) Second season the ages started creeping up, but it was all around my age. Maybe a little younger. But, now it seems like everyone is older. They have families, this is their last hurrah.
Holmes: Officially, you guys are in the dark about themes and twists. Any guesses?
Collins: The rumor is it’s an all-winners. I see the men are all winners. I can only assume the women are all winners.
Holmes: The press are all winners?
Collins: Yes, obviously. The twists and turns, I think Jeff is going to throw everything at us. I expect a curveball every single day. I think right away, we were sitting down and they had us talking to the producers, and there were fifteen chairs. There are only ten of us. I’m thinking, are the girls coming in? But then they’d need more chairs. The girls never showed up. So, the girls are coming after us, but why are there five extra chairs?
Holmes: You’re assuming there are girls.
Collins: There has to be. But, that could be a twist. I’m expecting a twist all the time, so when there is a twist I’m not thrown for a loop.
Holmes: You have experience in a returnee season. Not everybody does. What’s the difference?
Collins: In an all-star season, right when you jump on the beach…it’s craziness. My first season was slow. All-star seasons are fast. And people who won their first time playing, they don’t know that. They’re not ready for that. There’s a lot of people out here who have played many times and it’s a total, different season.
Holmes: I saw something in your bio that I hated.
Collins: (Laughs) Uh oh…
Holmes: “Do you still watch ‘Survivor,’? Every episode, I’m a casual watcher now.”
Collins: I am. I tell you what, when you have four kids, then come talk to me.
Holmes: Fair enough.
Collins: I used to take notes on every episode, but I don’t have time! I’m never home at 8 o’clock on Wednesday.
Holmes: No DVR?
Collins: I DVR it. For the most part I don’t get to it until Thursday or Friday.
Holmes: You’ve changed.
Holmes: I don’t know who you are anymore.
Holmes: Alright, if there are women, who do you think we’re going to see?
Collins: I’m figuring we’ll see Kim, Nat, Parvati, Sandra…if Rob’s here, Sandra is here. I can see their giant heads over there.
Holmes: They’re going to have to make room for a third over there after you win.
Collins: That’s right.
Holmes: Since they’re always in Fiji, just leave them there. Maybe set up a theme restaurant.
Collins: No, I want mine in my front yard.
Holmes: I like how you’re thinking.
Holmes: You “Survivor” folks like to chat. There are always rumors of pre-game alliances. Have you been doing any of that?
Collins: I haven’t heard much. This is what I get, I get third-party pre-game talk. A person in a season of a winner will reach out to me and say, “Hey, the winner of my season is going to be out there. They’re a good person. It wouldn’t be bad if you linked up with them.” I got that a few times.
Holmes: What are some examples?
Collins: Brian Corridan said that Danni was a good person, blah blah blah. And my thing is, “We’ll see.” And I guess she said that I reached out to her and I said something to her and she just wrote a smiley face. Not to give him too much. That never happened. That’s not my style. And, I don’t like that she said that. So, right away it’s falling apart. In “Second Chance” I didn’t touch it. People were calling, “I can’t wait to play with you.” It doesn’t work. So, why would I start now? Look at Francesca (Hogi). She was friends with people on her second season and she was first out. It doesn’t work, so why bother? I haven’t heard much of it. I heard a lot more during “Second Chance.”
Holmes: You’re in lockdown now. You’re not allowed to talk. But people wink or nod or whatever. Have you seen any of that?
Collins: Yeah, I do it a lot.
Holmes: Who are you giving the finger guns to?
Collins: I finger gun Tyson, Rob, Tony, Ben, Wendell. I finger gun everybody.
Holmes: Spreading it around, you don’t want anyone to feel left out.
Collins: That’s it!
Holmes: Have you noticed people sitting together?
Collins: Not really, most of these people know each other. So, it’s a lot of moving around. Once we get out there it’ll be more solidified of who’s working together.
Holmes: Alright, let’s play a game. (Hands Jeremy cards) Here are the nine finger gun buddies you’ve been sweating with under a tent. Tell me the four you’ll work with and the five you will avoid. This is Align or Malign…you’ve done this before.
Collins: Yup! This is tougher than I thought. The four I’m going to align with…my game is meat shields. The biggest meat of all is Rob. I’m going to align with him. Tyson, he’s another big meat shield. He’s going to be the loudest out there. He’s going to have a big spotlight on him. Tony…everybody knows Tony plays big and wild. Now, my last one…I need an old-schooler that’s loyal. This is my (Andrew) Savage. I’m tossing it between Ethan and Yul. Right now, I’m leaning toward Ethan. We were on the boat coming over and Yul did not look good. He looked seasick. This is day negative one, you can’t be seasick already. So, I’m going to go with Ethan.
Holmes: Let’s hear those maligns.
Collins: Yul, I don’t know if he’s going to be able to keep this thing rolling. Ben, I want to align with Ben, but I only get four. When things start moving around I think I can work with him later. But I will malign him for now. Wendell is the same thing. I want to work with him, I don’t think his mouth will keep him out of trouble. I don’t think he can hold his tongue. I think this season season is going to jump on him faster than he expects.
Holmes: You’re worried there’s going to be a rap star out there and he’s going to offer a critique?
Collins: (Laughs) Exactly. Nick…I think he’s a nice guy. I don’t see it coming. And Adam, the reason I’m maligning Adam is because he’s a smart kid and he knows my game and he’s the smallest guy out here. So, I don’t think he’s going to want to work with me because he knows he’s not a meat shield.
Holmes: Of your four, who is your ride-or-die?
Collins: I’m going to say…Tony. I think Tony is a wild card. He’s going to play aggressive and make a lot of enemies. I think can control him to some degree.
Holmes: You’re married to a cop, is that an angle you could use with Tony?
Collins: I’ve thought about that, and there may be a cop on the other side as well. So, I’ve been thinking about two cops and a firefighter going to the end.
Holmes: Of your maligns, who’s the first out?
Collins: It’s Nick, only because this game for me, I’m trying to have fun. The first season was tough. I played too serious and it hurt me. The second season I said, “I’m just going to have fun.”
Holmes: How’d that work out for you?
Collins: It worked out beautifully. So Nick, he’s eating a ton now. He’s putting on a ton of weight. He’s loading up on the carbs, sweets, everything. I think it’d be funny if he did all of this loading up, and then he was the first boot. (Laughs)
Holmes: You’re a monster.
Holmes: He’d have plenty of time at Ponderosa to hit the treadmill.
Holmes: You know what’s so funny about you?
Collins: (Laughs) Here we go.
Holmes: Meat shield is your brand, and you’re so freakin’ jacked.
Collins: Let me tell you this though, I’ve hung with Tyson and Kim playing poker and stuff. We played poker and my name came up a few times, talking about my abs. Then we hung out another time and my name came up again about my abs. Coming out here? I can’t tell you the last time I did a crunch or a sit-up.
Holmes: Are your abs actually gone?
Collins: My daughter calls them “faded.”
Holmes: Here’s the thing, I like you…but I really hate you.
Collins: (Laughs) It is a lot of genetics.
Holmes: Yeah, that’s what I have to tell myself.
Holmes: That’s how I sleep at night.
Collins: I feel alright. If I started working out I’d blow up and be huge and strong. But, I’m not as bad as I should be. Tony looks strong, you can tell he’s working out. I haven’t worked out. I am concerned that my cardio is going to suck. I wanted to look like Nick right, but what are you going to do?
Holmes: That little kid wrestling isn’t giving you the workout you need?
Collins: It is crazy.
Holmes: Classic “Survivor” vs. modern “Survivor.” You’re more modern, but there have been a lot of crazy innovations since you played last.
Collins: I think that’s something I had in my favor when I played “Second Chance,” I had more experience than Savage or (Kelly) Wigglesworth. Those people tend to be more trustworthy and stick to the “Survivor” game. Survive, stick with one alliance, and move on. This new “Survivor” there’s a lot of moving around, a lot of idols. I feel like I’m in the middle of it.
Holmes: An alien lands…
Collins: Alright. (Laughs) Makes sense.
Holmes: You need to show them a scene that shows what “Survivor” is, and why it’s awesome. What scene do you show them?
Collins: I would show them the Tribal where me and Kelley (Wentworth) played our idols and there were no votes. And then we had to do the whole try to persuade each other and stuff. Then it went to rocks and there were no rocks to draw.
Holmes: Your plan is to confuse the (expletive deleted) out of them.
Collins: Yeah, it’s a confusing game! Ten, twenty years ago, it wouldn’t be that way. But now? This season is going to be crazy.
Holmes: I remember hearing about this show where they were going to dump people on this island and make them vote people out. This was twenty some years ago. I was a copywriter at QVC. Do you know QVC?
Collins: Yeah, I’m old. I’m 41.
Holmes: Did you just say, “I’m old, I’m 41”?
Holmes: You know what? (Expletive deleted) your abs.
Holmes: (Expletive deleted) your, “I’m old, I’m 41.”
Holmes: Everyone I speak to after this, I’m saying, “Collins goes first.”
Holmes: Jeff decides to let you choose a twist. What are you going with?
Collins: Can I say what I don’t want to see?
Holmes: We’re on bad terms right now, but I’ll allow it.
Collins: (Laughs) Thank you. I don’t want to see Edge of Extinction again. At first I thought it was cool, but after you see how it unfolded? There were like 25 people there!
Holmes: Too much power. To be able to say, “I know what the jury is thinking.”
Collins: Yeah. You hold all the cards.
Holmes: He was given a million bucks by people he didn’t vote out.
Collins: That’s crazy.
Holmes: And the paranoia that comes with the constant fear that people are trying to betray you…they didn’t have to deal with that.
Collins: I went home after 39 days, and I wasn’t right for three months.
Holmes: I’ve heard that from a lot of people.
Collins: I didn’t trust people that I work with. I need to trust them if I’m in a fire, they need to pull me out. I didn’t trust my brothers around me. So, I was at home hanging with my family because they were the only people I trusted.
Holmes: Alright, let’s play some Best Defense. I’ll give you a reason someone might use to get rid of you. You defend against it.
Holmes: Jeremy is a family guy, adorable kids, I don’t want to sit with him at the end. All he has to do is flash an Instagram picture and he’s got another million bucks.
Collins: (Laughs) Everybody has kids out here. Why put that on me? And, I’m loyal. I’ll go with you to the end. You can’t worry about the final three at this point. And, it’s season 40, we need to have the best player win this game. People aren’t going to vote for me because I have adorable kids. That’s ridiculous.
Holmes: Because everyone else’s kids are horrendous.
Holmes: This guy is looking for “meat shields,” but look at him with his muscles and “ghost” abs.
Collins: (Laughs) Faded, they’re faded.
Holmes: I don’t want to face him when the individual immunities get physical.
Collins: If you look at my track record, I have one win each season. And they weren’t physical. One was a memory challenge and the other was timing a ball to put into a maze. I’m not a physical beast. I just appreciate the physical meat shields around me.
Holmes: You talk about having a great season. Now, I as a viewer, definitely want that. But, if I’m in the game, I wouldn’t care if my win was boring as long as it was my win. Is that something you take into account when you make decisions?
Collins: If I win, it’ll be a great season. (Laughs)
Holmes: Fair point.
Collins: In “Second Chance” we thought we had a great season. We wanted a great winner. Even towards the end, me, Spencer (Bledsoe), and Tasha (Fox) were nervous that somebody that hadn’t been out there moving and shaking could jump up and take us out. That scared us more than not going to the end together.
Holmes: I’ll pick a name out of a hat and say, you were worried about Kimmi (Kappenberg) going on a run and winning the thing because you thought it might make for a bad season?
Holmes: That’s really interesting. I’d just want to win. Unless you were using that for leverage to keep yourself around.
Collins: It’s true, you can use that for leverage, but this show is part of your legacy. You don’t want a bad winner on your legacy. You want to be the winner, but if not, you want a good winner.
Don’t miss the premiere of “Survivor: Winners at War” – Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at 8 pm ET.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes