J.T Thomas likes to go big or go home. Well, he did both on this season of Survivor: Game Changers. Following up on his riskiest move ever in
Following up on his riskiest move ever in Heroes vs. Villains , where he gave a hidden immunity idol to someone from the other tribe he did not even know, J.T. proved he would not let that debacle make him gun-shy, this time feeding voting intel to the opposition when he told Brad where the Nuku votes were going at a joint Tribal Council.
Brad used that info to betray J.T. by not reciprocating and voting out J.T.’s target of Sandra, gunning for Malcolm instead. J.T. seemed to be a dead man walking after that, yet found an idol the very next day. But then the Tocantins champ pulled perhaps his most questionable move, neglecting to even bring his idol to Tribal Council, and he was promptly voted out.
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We asked the ousted player about all those questionable moves and more — including Sugargate — when he called into EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) and you can hear his responses below on the EW Morning Live podcast. Here are a few highlights from our chat.
On not being gun-shy this time after what happened to him in Heroes vs. Villains:
“No, I wasn’t. I wasn’t shy. Obviously it didn’t work out like I hoped, but you got to make moves to win and I go to win. I don’t go to get second place or even 10th place. And sometimes it works out and sometimes it don’t.”
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On why he did not bring his idol to Tribal Council:
“Yeah, that was a tough one. I really thought it was Michaela going home. There is no doubt about it. And honestly, to me, it was a no-brainer. You have to make decisions based on what would you do in that circumstance. I was giving Sandra more credit than she probably deserved. She was strictly after a payback vote, which is never a good thing in my opinion. My way of thinking was that the only way they have a chance here is with me, and that’s kind of how I felt. So I tried to save the idol for more important days, but obviously this was the most important day.
“I left it at camp. I actually had a bad feeling going into the vote at Tribal. It just didn’t feel good to me. At that point, it was too late. I had actually buried the idol on top of a place called Lookout Mountain back there at camp. I didn’t want to be caught with it like I was at Heroes vs. Villains. I hurt myself not taking it with me, no doubt. And I will regret it for sure. I already do.”
On if he would have played it had he brought it:
“I’m not sure I would have. I’d like to say, yeah, I would have. I felt bad, but I just couldn’t make myself understand how it made sense to keep someone that really couldn’t help you at the merge and had no relationships. At this point in the game I had actually slept at camp with every person there except Hali and Troyzan, so I had more contacts in the game than anyone else. I thought that was more leverage than I needed to secure myself to the merge. My way of thinking was, the only way these guys have a chance was with me. ‘Cause everyone else in the game were my former alliances except Troyzan and Hali. So I felt like I was in a good position. But you’re never safe in Survivor.”
On Malcolm’s comments to us last week about how J.T. could sense something was wrong at the joint Tribal Council after he fed Brad the voting intel and why he didn’t then tell them to switch the vote:
“I did sense it, just only from Hali. She kept bringing up physical threats and I’m looking at myself and Malcolm and thinking they’ve got to be talking about [us]. That’s not good. I kept nudging Malcolm. Malcolm and I were both solid at this point and so was Aubry and we wanted to vote Sandra out. We were prepared to try to sway Varner or Michaela if we went to go to a regular Tribal Council, but when they put the new Tribal on us with two tribes, it threw a monkey wrench in things. So we decided maybe it’s better to stick with this tribe right now until we get something figured out. Malcolm and Aubry were all aboard, but without the numbers they couldn’t just vote with me and hope things went well.
“So this was an opportunity for me. My only mistake was trusting Culpepper holding up his end of the deal. It didn’t work out that way. It’s tough. You have to trust someone and in this situation, if you’re in Culpepper’s shoes, why not stick with your alliance here? Because he didn’t have anything to lose here, only to gain. But it didn’t work out.”
His take on Brad’s move:
“From Brad’s point of view, it made sense for him to do what he done. He got rid of a tribe that was beating him in every challenge, so why not get rid of one of their athletes and put their other one on the chopping block? So hat’s off to Brad for making a decent move. But as far as my gameplay goes, I did what I had to do. This was a chance at that Tribal to get control of this new tribe. I was outnumbered 5-1. I had worked over Malcolm and Aubry. I needed one more person or I needed one person gone and then I had control of this tribe and have control of my own destiny. That’s the biggest thing. I didn’t want to go and be someone’s pawn. I wanted to have control of my own destiny.”
If he would have been loyal to Brad moving forward:
“No doubt, I would have been loyal to Brad. That was a chance for him to prove his loyalty to me, and at no expense really for him. I was helping him out regardless. All he had to do was follow up on his end of the deal. So I had definitely had too much stock in Brad Culpepper. No doubt about it. I would have been loyal all the way to the end. There were a couple of people from the beginning of the game that I became really trustworthy of and it was Sarah, Brad, and Ozzy. And I thought we could stick together and be solid.”
On when he found out that Sandra was the one who actually took the sugar:
“I actually didn’t know. I had no idea. I was wondering why Sandra kept instigating the sugar. She really kept bringing up the sugar. It was really not as big a deal as it seems. Sandra was just wanting to instigate as much as she could and pit me against Michaela. As I watched the episode, that unfolded to me. Obviously, it annoyed me, but what can you do? It really wasn’t as big a factor as it seems, the sugar, because Michaela was just very tough to deal with. At every challenge, she was always wanting to be wherever no one else wanted her to be. She felt like she had something to prove. It just didn’t sit very well with me.”
On falling victim to bad Survivor luck with the tribe swap:
“I was in as good a position for anyone to be in before the swap. I had complete control of the Nuku tribe. We didn’t see losing anytime soon and we were solid across the board on land and water and we were just living comfortable. I ran through my head as we were swapping, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, sure enough, the worse that could happen happened and I was in a rough spot.”
On if he’ll play again:
“They know I’m in. They know I’m ready to go. And they know what they get with me. I’m going to give 100 percent in the challenges and fight as hard as I can. And if I feel like I got to make a move, I’m going to do it. I’d rather be at home going, ‘Well, I may have jumped the gun on this one’ than I would be at home wishing I wouldn’t have been scared to try something.”
Listen to the entire interview — including J.T. on whether his success in Tocantins skewed his perspective moving forward — above, right after our chat with our old EW colleague Mark Harris about his new Netflix documentary series Five Came Back, or subscribe on iTunes to listen on the go. Also make sure to check out our Survivor episode Q&A with Jeff Probst as well as Dalton’s full recap, and for more EW Morning Live podcast news, follow us on Twitter @EWMLPodcast.