February 27, 2017 at 12:00 PM EST

All’s well that ends well. At least that was the case for Troy “Troyzan” Robertson. Troyzan was one of the nominees for the fan-voted Survivor: Second Chance season in 2015, but did not make the cut. However he — along with fellow unsuccessful Second Chance nominee Brad Culpepper — was selected by producers to return just a year later for Survivor: Game Changers (premiering March 8 on CBS).

Since Troyzan’s journey to get back on the show ultimately had a happy ending (and will be even happier if he can manage to take home the million-dollar prize), we asked him while on location for Game Changers to look back at his unique experience from the year prior. Just how hard was it to go on live television and have his unfavorable fate revealed in front of both a studio and a national audience?

“Yeah, that was brutal,” says Troyzan. “I was this far from telling [Survivor casting director] Lynne Spillman… I actually called her and said ‘I’m not going out there. I’m not going to get embarrassed on national TV.’ I just said, ‘I think the whole thing is a sham. I’m not doing that.’ And I heard an interview from Jeff [Probst] — and that’s why I say, we hear stuff or read interviews — so he said something like, ‘Oh yeah, those people that don’t get voted in, it’s going to be like America has spoken, and we don’t like you.’ And I’m like, you know, we all like to be liked. We all like to be loved in a sense. Even though we’re Survivors, we’re human beings, and people only see us in one little spot on TV — as characters. But that was like, I don’t know if I want to do that.”

Robertson is candid in admitting how disappointing the experience was and how hard he took it, but he talks about the ultimate satisfaction that came a year later when he got to rub his eventual reappearance in the face of a certain know-it-all Entertainment Weekly reporter. “I was bummed out for like a month and then just got right back into it again,” he says. “And I started training again, training my mind, started watching old seasons, and I’m like, you know what, hey, you never know when they’re going to call. And here we are. And even Dalton Ross said, ‘This guy never has a chance! He’ll never get on! If he doesn’t make this season, he’s never going to make it!’ And I wanted to say to him, ‘Look who’s here right now. And I told you so!’”

Robert Voets/CBS

Consider me told! For more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss. Also make sure to follow @thedaltonross on Instagram to see exclusive on-location photos, including one of Troyzan casting his pre-game vote for whom he’d like to vote off first.

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