Gordon Holmes: Am I speaking to “Survivor” champion Adam Klein?
Adam Klein: (Laughs) Oh my goodness. I can’t believe it.
Holmes: How does that feel?
Klein: It’s incredible. It’s a total dream come true.
Holmes: I have dreams about “Survivor,” but they’re more like stress nightmares.
Holmes: We’re always two episodes into the season and I’m scrambling because I’m on the bottom.
Klein: Your nightmare was my reality! I had that experience when Mari went home. She was one of my closest allies. This is what it feels like to be blindsided, I do not want that to happen again.
Holmes: Your nightmare ends with Probst handing you a million-dollar check. Mine ends with me waking up sweaty.
Holmes: Were you sure you had Ken’s vote as you were heading into that final four Tribal?
Klein: I was feeling pretty confident that Ken was going to go my way, but I hated that it was in his hands. The whole idea of taking out Dave at the final five Tribal Council was that we didn’t have to rely on Ken making this difficult, emotional decision to take out his closest friend in the game. We were going to do it without him. But Hannah, by voting out Bret instead of Dave put us in the position where no matter what, no matter who won immunity, we needed Ken’s vote. Even if I had won immunity and Ken votes for Hannah, they go to fire-making. Ken has been living in the fire for 39 days. He literally puts ashes in his pocket and sleeps on top of it. It wasn’t going to end well. So, we needed Ken there. And when he came through it was a huge relief.
Holmes: Chris gave you credit for Ken’s flip. Why do you think he gave it to you instead of Hannah?
Klein: First of all, I did have conversations with Ken about Dave that weren’t shown on the broadcast. I had a very important conversation with Ken the night that Bret was voted out where I actually, and this is going to sound crazy because it’s the wrong time to give someone a reason to get rid of someone, but I actually told Ken about my mom. Ken is an incredibly genuine person and believes that the best people should get to the end. And I wanted him to know that there was no shame in going to the end with me. He was playing for his daughter and I was playing for my family as well. Dave was standing in the way of both of us winning. I had a final three deal with Ken and so did Dave, so he was going to have to break his deal with one of us. I wanted it to seem equal in terms of how bad it would feel to get rid of both of us. Then it would come down to who he thought he might be able to beat and I knew that he’d side with me on that. On terms of the jury perspective, they didn’t know about that conversation, but time and time again they saw that I was the guy saying, “Dave is the biggest threat.” That was very intentional. I knew he wasn’t going to vote me out until we got to the final five. He needed my vote. But, he was also someone who, because we were talking him up so much, would absolutely win a jury vote. That’s part of the danger of talking him up so much. So, they saw what I was doing at Tribal Council.
Holmes: You shared the information about your mother with both Ken and Jay. In a more cutthroat season, that could’ve been used to get rid of you.
Klein: The moments where I opened my heart to them were very genuine moments. I really trusted them as human beings beyond the game. But, I was never going to do anything that would jeopardize my game. I was out there to do well for my family. With Jay, he’s been through this. His mother has had significant health problems. I knew that he would get it and that he needed me in the game. It wouldn’t be in his best interest to run and make me a bigger threat. He knew that he would never make me a bigger threat than he was. And, he’s an incredible enough guy that he would never say anything.
Holmes: I don’t think Jay wants anyone to know this, but he seems like an incredible guy.
Klein: (Laughs) Jay has this exterior where he’s just this bro, but he’s incredibly genuine. And the way he went out of the game was one of the best ever. Just laughing the whole time. That’s the kind of guy he is. He’s a warrior, but he respects the game as well.
Holmes: Jonny Fairplay proved that some players will do anything to get ahead in the game with his grandmother lie in “Pearl Islands.” Was there any concern that people might have doubted that your story was genuine?
Klein: No. I know that the feelings were genuine. I know that they’d come across as genuine. People keep saying, “Why do they keep talking about this storyline? I’m sick of this storyline.” It’s not a storyline to me, it’s my life. That’s what matters to me. It’s the most important thing in my life. Of course I’m going to talk about it. The game doesn’t just exist outside of reality.
Holmes: You mentioned that you and your mother auditioned for “Blood vs. Water.” She would have won, right?
Klein: (Laughs) Yeah. At the time we applied she was in much better shape than I am. I’ve been getting in shape for the last couple of years. She would have run circles around me. She worked out every day, she was a health nut.
Holmes: How would her social game have been?
Klein: Incredible. The hardest part for her would have been voting out people that she loved. If she met someone like Jay where she really connected, she’d have a hard time doing what needed to be done. But, if I were on the season, I’d have said, “We’ve gotta take these people out, that’s the game.” She was the most warm-hearted person you can possibly imagine.
Holmes: I’m picturing this challenge beast with you as the little devil on her shoulder.
Klein: Yeah, that’s exactly right. (Laughs)
Holmes: This is the first season of “Survivor” in recent memory that didn’t really have any villains. Were you guys aware of that when you were out there?
Klein: I couldn’t believe that we were as supportive of each other as we were. And how gracious everyone was when they were voted out of the game. They’d give these speeches like, “Good luck, you guys are awesome.” I figured people made these speeches every season and they were edited out.
Holmes: I’ve been to a few Tribal Councils, I’ve never seen that.
Klein: I guess we really were unique. I love this group of people. There isn’t a villain because everyone is genuinely awesome. I’ll be friends with this whole group for the rest of my life.
Holmes: As a “Survivor” fan, is that a trend that you hope continues?
Klein: Personally, I don’t need to watch people that are despicable. I think you can play the game hard and still respect each other after it.
Holmes: Alright, word association time.
Klein: Oh, I’m ready for this!
Holmes: Did you prepare something ahead of time?
Klein: I would never.
Holmes: Thank you. The “Worlds Apart” cast almost destroyed my gimmick.
Holmes: Let’s start with Mari.
Klein: She went far too soon.
Klein: Actually a friend of mine in real life.
Klein: A challenge beast.
Klein: So much fun. I always have a blast hanging out with her.
Holmes: Michelle’s dragon dress?
Klein: The star of the season.
Holmes: I’m told its name is “Freckles.”
Klein: Yes! You nailed it. The dragon does not actually have freckles.
Klein: A total free spirit.
Klein: The strongest guy I know.
Klein: My closest ally in the game.
Klein: Very mature and played at a much higher level than you’d expect from someone his age.
Klein: The sweetest, warmest woman ever.
Klein: The Batman to my Joker and my brother for life.
Klein: The most impressive person in our season.
Klein: My sister, friend for life.
Klein: One of the most genuine people I know.
Holmes: Alright, Mr. Millionaire, last night you said you’re making a big donation to Stand Up To Cancer which is awesome. Any other plans for the money?
Klein: A lot of it is going to taxes, especially living in California. And I’m going to save the rest because that will allow me to do the non-profit work that I like to do.
Holmes: You could put that up as a prize for next season’s Power Rankings.
Klein: (Laughs) No no no…but I would love to do the Power Rankings if you want me.
Holmes: Consider this an official invitation. You don’t even have to put up your prize money.
Klein: Awesome! I can’t wait. I saw that Zeke wanted to do Power Rankings in his pre-game interview.
Holmes: I love me some Zeke, but he seems like a bad choice for next season…for some reason.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes