“Survivor” Runner-Up Mike – “I Think If I Won America Would Have Come to My House and Killed Me”

“Survivor: David vs. Goliath” (CBS)

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Gordon Holmes: Were any of the votes last night surprising?
Mike White: I had a sense who was voting for me by the time I rewatched it last night. But at the time I didn’t know who was going to vote for me. I thought I had those three votes, I thought I might’ve had more votes. But, it was hard to guess. I couldn’t tell from the jury by their reactions. It was hard to read everybody. I knew I had Kara’s vote and maybe Alison’s vote.
Holmes: Were you surprised by Christian’s vote?
White: I got a sense from Tribal that Christian had voted for me. I kinda knew that Nick had probably won, but I didn’t know what the final tally would be. I thought maybe I had Alec’s vote.

Holmes: You have a very successful career in the entertainment industry.
White: Well, thank you.
Holmes: Hey, you won’t find a bigger “School of Rock” fan. My wife and I went to see the musical last fall on Broadway.
White: (Laughs) Oh cool.
Holmes: Did that come up at all during the final Tribal that Mike might not need this money as much as others?
White: Yeah, it also came up from me. I really wanted to play a good game, I wanted to get to the end. I wanted to win. You’re there to play a game and nobody wants you to go there and be like, “I’m here to lay out on the beach.” You’re there to play the best you can. But, for me it’d be easier to fight for it if it was just for a title. There’s something about fighting for the money…and that looms large in the end. You’re sitting next to someone like Nick…you could sense it, but I was conflicted a little bit. Am I trying to win the money? And it was the first time where I wasn’t really sure what was the result that I wanted. It was a little bit tricky mentally. So, I was happy for him, but I was trying to win a game.
Holmes: Did your opinion change when you learned he was a lawyer?
White: No, because he’s like a freakin’ public defender.
Holmes: (Laughs)
White: For him that money is transformative. And a million dollars isn’t nothing to me. I’d love a million dollars. But, you see how much something like that can change his life. So, it was a little tricky in the end. Even now, there are moments where I could’ve said this or said that, but at the time… But you know what, this is the best outcome. I think if I won America would have come to my house and killed me.

Holmes: I actually thought you had a really interesting character arc, where in the beginning it was hard for you to send people home and then in the end you were like this evil Jiminy Cricket character whispering in people’s ears about how to vote.
White: (Laughs) I don’t think I was evil, but I was definitely playing the game. In the beginning, I’d almost cry in the voting booth. But in the end, you felt like everyone had a good experience. At first you’d feel bad because they didn’t get to play, but in the end you’re thinking, “Get them out. There are too many people on this beach.”
Holmes: (Laughs) It seems like one of your gifts was that you could view the game through the eyes of the viewer. You’d say, “America is going to be screaming at their TVs that we’re not getting rid of Christian.”
White: I think people were seeing each other as competitors, but I feel like I could see the narrative. David vs. Goliath…we’re the villains. And the reason I stayed Goliath strong was because the only way to change the narrative, was to get rid of them. The drive will be the Davids and them being underdogs. If there’s a David at the end, they’re going to win. It was very meta. The whole way they’re going to spin this season is these hardscrabble Davids up against these buffoonish Goliaths.

Holmes: Alright, this is always fun at 8 a.m. Let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Nick.
White: Compelling.
Holmes: Jeremy?
White: Entertaining.
Holmes: Natalie?
White: Forceful.
Holmes: John?
White: Sensitive.
Holmes: Dan?
White: Youthful.
Holmes: Alison?
White: Dynamic.
Holmes: Elizabeth?
White: Lovable.
Holmes: Gabby?
White: Gosh…entertaining.
Holmes: Natalia?
White: She’s a spitfire.
Holmes: Alec?
White: Spotlight.
Holmes: Lyrsa?
White: Amusing.
Holmes: Christian?
White: Adorable.
Holmes: Carl?
White: Serious.
Holmes: Kara?
White: Sunbeam.
Holmes: Davie?
White: Energetic.
Holmes: Let’s finish off with Angelina.
White: She’s a reality genius.

Holmes: One of the things that was brought up last night is how our society will view a strong woman as bossy or annoying. You had a specific moment during the season where you agreed that Angelina was right about trading for the rice, but you found her aggravating. What is your take on how she was portrayed. She didn’t receive any votes from the jury. So, where does the true Angelina lie?
White: I was with Angelina every day the entire time, 39 days. And I love her, I think she’s awesome. That’s the part that doesn’t come through as much as the conflict stuff. There’s a lot of fun energy. There were times in the experience where she was exasperating. She woke up in the morning and had a to-do list. She was kind of insatiable. She was just unsinkable! (Laughs) And it’s so fun she made it all the way and on the 38th day she’s making idol and climbing mountains. She was so entertaining.
Holmes: I feel like Tracy Flick from “Election” is the perfect example. You love her or you hate her, but you can’t be mad at her because that’s who she is. She’s a force of nature.
White: Yeah, and I’ve loved watching her. But, people online are cruel. They say mean crap. They’ve said mean stuff about me too, but I’ve been in the public eye longer. Just watching how she’s handling it, she has a strong sense of self. It’s admirable. I just like her. But someone like Carl, he got bossy. And nobody likes to be told what to do out there. It’s not about gender necessarily, but you’ve got to be careful when you become the boss of the tribe. There were just times where she wore on people.

Holmes: You’re an Amazing Racer, you’re a Survivor, I notice “Celebrity Big Brother” is making a comeback.
White: (Laughs)
Holmes: Any chance we’ll see you there?
White: No. For me…it’s not about being on a reality show. Part of it was I wanted to have the adventure. To be on a soundstage in Burbank? I’ve already had that. The last thing I want to do is be trapped in soundstage on Burbank for three months.

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