It’s often said that your first instinct is usually the right one. It’s possible that Jay Byars has never heard that piece of advice.
For weeks, Jay’s instincts had been telling him to be on the lookout for a women’s alliance. But that didn’t stop the 25-year-old model from trying to piece together a union between himself and the game’s dominant females.
I spoke with Jay the morning after those dominant females blindsided him and sent him packing from the game. During that chat, I had a chance to find out about the two things he said he’d never do (that he ended up doing), if he and Troyzan could have flipped things, and which player he thinks is a “witch.”
Gordon Holmes: Every week I’m watching “Survivor” and every week you’re saying, “We’ve got to watch out for the girls.” And even with that, they still manage to blindside you. Can you walk me through how they managed to get you even though you kinda knew it was coming?
Jay Byars: When the tribes swapped and I became a member of Salani, I was so excited to get off of the Manono squad. So, I formed relationships with the ladies and decided that I was going to work with them. Obviously they chose to go back with their old alliance and they got the best of me.
Holmes: What was it like to watch that on TV? It had to be like trying to warn someone in a horror movie when you know Michael Myers is hiding in their closet.
Byars: I was thinking, “What the hell were you thinking?” “Why did you step down from that challenge?” “Why did you think you were safe?” I was just sitting at home feeling helpless.
Holmes: I had an ex-girlfriend who was a law student, and you could always tell when she wasn’t being 100% truthful because of the way she’d word things. I noticed Chelsea saying, “That’s not necessarily the case,” and Kat saying “What am I going to say, no?” Those aren’t concrete statements. Were you picking up on those things?
Byars: Yeah. I definitely was skeptical. I kept picking up on things like that. I woke up that morning and had an eerie feeling that it wasn’t going to be a good day. But I was trying to work with Troy, I was trying to work with Kim and Chelsea. I still trusted them at that point even though things felt shady. I didn’t think I was going to be the next one. Obviously that’s why I stepped down from the challenge.
Holmes: So during that challenge you thought you were 100% safe?
Byars: I did, completely. I’d say that was probably the dumbest move I could make at that point in the game. And going into the game I said I would never, ever drop down for food. No matter what. And it cost me a million bucks.
Holmes: Could things have been different if you’d listened to Troy?
Byars: Even if I listened to Troy and voted for Kim, I really think the votes would have swung my way.
Holmes: I’m very good at playing “Survivor” when I’m well fed and sitting on my couch in my air-conditioned home. How do you explain the differences between watching it and living it to someone like me?
Byars: You obviously see the mistakes I’ve made in the game. But when you’re there, it’s so hard to separate the relationships you’ve made with the people because you’re with them 24/7. And when you have to backstab someone, it’s hard to separate those two. You really get a sense of trust in some people. And you have to trust someone to move forward.
Holmes: I think that if I was hungry enough, you could talk me into anything.
Byars: (Laughs) Yeah. I wish everybody understood that who was watching on the couch.
Holmes: You had these male vs. female concerns even before Michael was sent home. Was there anything you could have done with Tarzan or Leif? Or maybe tried to get Christina and Alicia to flip?
Byars: At the merge that would have been a definite possibility had the guys decided to work together or tried to pull Alicia and Christina in. But as you could see, from day one the guys were not united. You never could trust the guys. Everybody had their own agenda. You never could trust Tarzan. Whatever his mood was, that was the way he was going to go. You couldn’t get a strong vibe from people. But obviously I wish me and Troy had stuck together and that I would’ve listened to him on that last night.
Holmes: Kim seems to be running the show out there. Alicia and Christina think they’re safe. You and Troyzan thought you were safe.
Byars: Watching it now, she really was the mastermind behind a lot of this. I fell for her. She got me. She’s a super strategic player. She’s a super fan of the show, she knows it inside and out.
Holmes: You used the term “fell for her.” She’s quite lovely. Chelsea’s quite lovely. Did that play into it at all?
Byars: You know Gordon, I said before the show that I would never, ever be smitten by a girl, but the fact that I did trust those two just proves that I did.
Holmes: Cause I’m pretty sure that Chelsea could talk me into anything.
Byars: (Laughs) That’s what everybody keeps saying.
Holmes: She could tell me the sky was pink and I wouldn’t bother looking outside.
Byars: Twenty five days into it, when you have two beautiful girls telling you you’re safe…what can you do?
Holmes: When you were making your play to send one of the women home, why did you go with Alicia over Christina?
Byars: Number one, it’s because Christina seemed to be floating through the game. Nobody was really worried about her at that point. And I knew Alicia was working with Tarzan and was close with Kat. She was working both sides, guys and girls.
Holmes: Let’s do some word association here. We’ll start with Troyzan.
Byars: Fun and in-shape.
Byars: Hot and sweet.
Byars: Lovable and hilarious.
Byars: Athlete and she can talk her way into or out of anything.
Byars: I don’t want to curse so…witch.
Byars: A wrestler.
Byars: Ditzy blonde.
Byars: A nutcase.
Holmes: This has nothing to do with anything, but the Tikiano flag looks awesome. Who’s the artist on the tribe?
Byars: We actually all had a little part in that. But Chelsea and Tarzan are the two main artists of that center piece. Chelsea does a lot of painting on the side, and Tarzan used to paint back in the day.
Holmes: So those two were able to put aside their underwear dispute long enough to create a really nice flag?
Byars: No, they definitely painted at separate times. I do remember that.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes