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Gordon Holmes: Take me back to last night’s Tribal. Was it a blindside?
Natalie Cole: I wasn’t blindsided, Gordon. I saw it coming and I decided I was no longer going to fight. I had been fighting every day I was out there. And Nick and Lyrsa came over to our camp and Mike and Angelina did not hesitate to update them on the relationships that occurred there. They did not have to find cracks, they were handed cracks. I erred by not trying to pull Nick and Lyrsa into the fold because I knew I would never get Mike. He was totally in love with Jeremy and Jeremy was enamored with him. Angelina was the most crafty person on the island, so I knew I couldn’t trust her. But, she was the common denominator. She was giving me information when others wouldn’t.
Holmes: I have a theory that Angelina wanted you to go home, but threw a vote for Lyrsa so she could get your jacket.
Cole: Absolutely! She’s very transparent. I didn’t trust her all that much. And I knew when it was two votes…I was like, “What?! Someone is playing a game.” And I knew it was Angelina because she was thirsty for a jacket. I got accused of stealing a jacket, I never stole a jacket. Angelina literally stole Lyrsa’s jacket. I said, “Ehh…you might want to put that back and just ask for it.” Angelina is very crafty. But, just like I could see through Jeremy, I could see through Angelina.
Holmes: Things got off to a rocky start with you and Jeremy. How did that feud start?
Cole: I had a lot of factors against me. I was bullied by Jeremy, you didn’t see the half of it. You never saw me approach him and start an argument, and yet I was considered to be confrontational. I was protecting myself. And then you have people who become followers instead of leading. Day one, I hit John up. I said, “John, I need you to help get me through the first half of the game. And I’m going to help you get through the second half of the game. I need you now because I may be an early target.” John and I made a commitment on day one, I made the same commitment with Dan. I approached Jeremy and said, “I’d like for you and I to consider…” and before I could say anything he cut me off and said he’s not doing that. He said, “We’re the only two black people out here. They’re going to target you and me first.” I don’t believe that. I’m not going to look at the glass half empty. He wouldn’t even hear my full strategy out. So, when he said, “Go get three or four people to back you and then I’ll consider.” I said, “Why don’t you be the first?” What he didn’t know was at that point I had John and Dan. Then I made the decision to not tell him anything because he will never have my back. If you listen to “First One Out” (Josh Wigler’s “Survivor” podcast) everyone speaks positively, they’ll work with me. What does Jeremy say? He says, “She reminds me of a lunch counter lady who gave me some free food.” Well, you couldn’t have been more wrong, buddy.
Holmes: Was there ever a chance for you two to mend fences and work together?
Cole: I was playing the game in pain. I was trampled in the first challenge because Jeremy decided he wanted to help me. He literally made me fall. We were running and had to get over this bar, and as I was trying to get over I lifted my left leg. He literally snatched my leg, flung it forward, and caused me to fall off balance. So, I got trampled. I had back pain the entire time I played this game. I didn’t play it up with the producers because I didn’t want them to think I was pulling out of the game. I thought Jeremy did it as an accident, but he never apologized. He was yelling in my face, to the point that I could feel his breath, and I thought, “What the hell? Is it my fault that you made me fall?” So, Jeremy and I started off on a bad foot and it snowballed from there. So, when people say he was trying to help me, I literally want to scream in their face.
Holmes: Jeremy took us by surprise during the exit press when he told us that the reason he was voted out was because of a joke he made about a showmance between Angelina and John. Angelina has since denied this. Can you shed some light on that?
Cole: What Jeremy does not know until this conversation, is that Jeremy made that comment, of which I wasn’t even in the vicinity when he made the comment, I was told the comment by my ally John. When I was told he made the comment and John and Angelina weren’t doing anything about it, I said to Angelina, “I heard about the comment.” And she said, “Yeah, it’s pretty crappy.” And I said, “Angelina, your husband is a marine. He’s out protecting our country. You can’t let that comment sit. You can’t let that go. We have to unanimously vote him out to speak against that statement he made.” So, I got in her head. I got in John’s head the same way. I said, “You’re getting married next month. Your fiancé is going to be pissed to hear that! We’ve got to do something, John! We need to fix this!” So then, the next two hours I sat back and watched the magic happen. They were soldiers going out with my message. Nobody knows that they did the work because I planted the seed in their heads.
Holmes: One of the big knocks against you was that you were telling people what to do, while not actually doing things yourself. Was that an accurate portrayal?
Cole: I was doing so much work around camp it ain’t funny. It’s something that somebody said, which was Natalia, and they ran with that narrative. I cleaned the entire campground. I dug up hundreds of yards of vines and braided them to secure the shelter. I’m the only one that went out digging for roots to eat. I was as busy as everyone else. And the only person that didn’t pull their weight, was Mike White. He did squat around camp.
Holmes: That’s interesting. Because he was one of you biggest critics.
Cole: That started after Jeremy was voted out because that was his guy. They went down on the beach and slept separately from everybody else. You watch who people sleep next to and those two were joined at the hip.
Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start off with John.
Cole: Love John. He’s the most authentic person out there.
Cole: Like Dan a lot. Follower. He’ll know what I mean by that.
Cole: Underrated. She was my first target.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Natalia.
Cole: (Laughs) Trustworthy.
Holmes: Natalia is trustworthy? That’s surprising. It seems like you two had some issues out there.
Cole: It’s because we are very similar. We’re real talk. She misread what I said and overreacted. She’s young, she’s in her twenties. I understand how she got there. I tried to approach her because I was thinking; they’ll never see us working together. But, she just couldn’t see the game. She didn’t trust that I was being for real.
Holmes: Who were you hoping to get to the end with?
Cole: I would’ve taken Natalie, Natalie Napalm, and Natalie Cole.
Holmes: You were close with John. Did you have a position in mind for yourself in the Slamtown administration?
Cole: I would’ve been in the corporate part of Slamtown controlling Slamtown.
Holmes: You would’ve been the corporate donor that really runs the show.
Cole: Yeah, probably.
Holmes: You’d have the mayor in your pocket.
Cole: Yeah, you know of all the people out there, John had my back.
Holmes: You were amazing with your voting statements. Any chance you could vote me out?
Cole: Well, the voting statement is about what I feel about whomever…so for you, Gordon…I’d say, “It’s been fun and this is a wrap.”