Not too many people were excited to hear that Colton Cumbie was returning for a second go-around on "Survivor: Blood vs. Water." During his first stint on "Survivor: One World," he became one of the most disliked contestants ever to play the game. Sure he was a pure TV villain, but love him or hate him, Colton was deeply compelling and undeniably entertaining. Today, I spoke with him, one day after we watched him quit the game.
As the youngest contestant asked to return this season, Colton was on a mission of redemption. Along for the ride was his mild-mannered and easy-going fiance, Caleb, who was there to help Colton change his image in the eyes of the public. Surely, after being medically evacuated during One World, Colton deserved a second-chance...right?
Revealed to us in last night's episode, Jeff Probst more than insinuated that not only was Colton a quitter this season, but he believes he had quit his previous season as well. Colton had complained of severe headaches and a horrible stomach ache last time around and was pulled from the game when the doctors suggested that in order for them to properly diagnose his condition, they had to remove him. What was feared to be appendicitis turned out to be what was called a "bacterial infection." None of us can claim to know the severity of this condition, but those that think of Colton as a quitter call it nothing more than a belly ache...hardly something that should force a player from the game....but was that what it was?
Colton undeniably quit this time around after depression from being separated from his fiance, as well as feeling on the outs with his tribe, who was not interested in talking strategy with him on the island. But as he reveals in this interview, there may have been some strategic reasons for doing so as well.
Probst laid into him pretty heavily last night, speaking words that many viewers would agree with, in sentiment. It was perhaps the cruelest reaction Probst has ever had in the game, maybe deservedly so.
So did Colton quit One World or was he legitimately medically evacuated? What exactly went on at Redemption Island last night? Has Colton learned anything about his time on Survivor? And what went on at Redemption Island that we didn't get to see?
Answers to these questions and more, in my exclusive one-on-one interview with Colton Cumbie:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Colton, how are you doing?
Colton Cumbie: I'm doing great!
Tom Santilli: So going into Redemption Island last night, did you know that you were going to quit?
Colton: Yeah, I mean. I had been back and forth, debating the whole morning. As we saw, nobody else was willing to talk strategy with me, so I basically had just myself to talk to. I was trying to plan, what was the best move for me at this point? I went in there thinking that Tyson was going to trade with Rachel, because that's what he said he was going to do. He pretty much prepared us that he wasn't going to be coming back with us to camp if Rachel had been voted off. He was telling me that I would really like Rachel and that he was going to tell her to come to me. But I was about 99% convinced that I was going, but when Tyson ended up not switching, it just felt like yet another let down for me. Here was this girl that I could have potentially gotten along with and who I wanted to play with from the beginning just by looking at her. So that was just like, the final blow.
Tom Santilli: Following the episode airing last night you posted on Twitter: "Just wait until you can hear what REALLY happened that Probst doesn't want you to see." What did you mean?
Colton: Basically, Probst is saying that he never wanted me back on the show, that it wasn't his decision, yadda, yadda, yadda. But the interesting thing about all that is he actually said right there before the whole cast and production and everyone, that he was one of the main people who campaigned to get me back on the show. That he was upset that I was quitting because he had tried so hard to get me back on. So I just want to set the record straight that Probst is definitely trying to cover his own ass by saying that he didn't want me back. So, don't send your flowers to his house (laughs).
Tom Santilli: Speaking of setting the record straight, can you clear that up for us? Did you quit "Survivor: One World?"
Colton: I absolutely did not quit "Survivor: One World." I don't understand that thought process, I don't understand what he was thinking or why he would think I would have quit. His argument on this season is, oh, Colton didn't get his way so he packed up his Barbie dolls and went home. But everything was going my way on One World. I don't understand, it's like, which is it?
Tom Santilli: On your day-after interview on CBS.com (to the left of the column), you also insinuate that you quit for strategic reasons. Can you expand on that?
Colton: That is what it basically boiled down to. So I started thinking, how could I win this game without me actually winning this game? Obviously the answer to that is Caleb. What's the biggest thing that I could do that would help propel Caleb forward? I though, if I take myself out of the game voluntarily and not go to Redemption Island - because if I got to Redemption Island he is going to want to trade with me - that I can accomplish several things. One, I take numbers away from Galang, two, I can take a huge target off of Caleb. You've seen as much Survivor as I have and you know that pairs are dangerous in this game. As the numbers start to dwindle, the more people who are in pairs...the pairs are going to eventually become the targets. My fear was, if Caleb and I went too far into this game, that they would take Caleb out because I would then just spiral out of control. That would have been the move to make.
Tom Santilli: It sounds like you realized you had no chance of winning. Did you feel differently though, coming into the game?
Colton: I said coming in that this time I was playing to win. I feel like I have two chances to win though, I have myself and I have Caleb. My whole thought process and strategy was to get myself as far as I could to help Caleb get to the end.
Tom Santilli: True or not, Probst has now put it out there that you are a two-time quitter. You've surely encountered several haters online. Do you have anything to say to those legions of Survivor fans that loathe you, or is there anything that you would like people to know about you that may have been lost in the shuffle?
Colton: Obviously, I don't want people to think I quit the first time. And really, if Probst thought I quit, he, in his own words, campaigned to bring me back. I just don't get it. They have this whole thing about never bringing back a quitter, well, if they thought I quit initially why was I back on the show? You know, if you ever have the chance to get to know me, I urge you to do so. Because I'm really not what I come across like on television.
For even more, be sure to watch Colton's baffling day after interview to the left of this column. Also be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings and you'll want to follow me on Twitter too, @tomsantilli, and at tomsantilli.com as well!
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