SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

In the end, Natalie ran all out of napalm.

Natalie Cole showed up on Survivor: David vs. Goliath ready to tell people what to do and how to do it. But her perceived bossiness ended up rubbing tribemates the wrong way — so much so that her fellow Goliaths on Jabeni were willing to give up their numbers advantage to get rid of her. Mike joined Lyrsa and Nick in voting Natalie out, while Angelina has said on Twitter she was with the plan but threw her extra unnecessary vote at Lyrsa in the hopes of obtaining Natalie’s jacket on her way out. (It didn’t work.)

How does Natalie feel about being blindsided by her former allies? Did she go too far in demanding Nick’s jacket for his safety? And what was with those hilarious bon mots while voting at Tribal Council? We asked Natalie all that and more when she called into EW Morning Live (EW Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) and she had plenty to say, telling us she was “bullied,” “berated,” and “felt like an abused woman out there.” She also leveled a pretty explosive accusation at Jeremy, claiming her former foe attempted to deliberately injure her during a challenge. Read on!

I Am Goliath Strong
Natalie Cole on 'Survivor: David vs. Goliath'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

EW RADIO: So let’s get into jacket-gate, here. There were many jackets involving many people. We saw you at one point telling Nick that if he wanted to stay he needed to give you his jacket. He said it was bullying, you said it was a negotiation. What do you say now about all of that?
NATALIE COLE: What I say now about all of that is I actually never specifically said to give me the jacket, although it did appear as I said that. I said to him that Angelina wants your jacket. In fact, when Nick came back to the campsite, Mike and I were working on the shelter and he said, “What’s going on?” And I said, “Well, Angelina needs a jacket.” Those were my words and it kind of snowballed form there. I didn’t need a jacket because I always had a jacket.

So it was a little different from my perspective in terms of what unfolded. Now, did I try to negotiate to get the jacket on her behalf? I did. But I found that to be very interesting and it was a jacket situation for me at the end.

How do you feel in general about the way you were shown on the show, because there were moments where you’d be at the fire giving orders. Other players felt like you were sitting on a throne telling the staff what to do. What did you make of that?
I will tell you that what happened in that particular scene is that no one knew how to start a fire and I had been starting the fire for the last two days and I was asked to show them how to start a fire. So Angelina in particular said, “Can you just at least show us how to do the fire?” And I was sitting there showing them how to do the fire because that was part of the problem with the whole jacket and eggs situation. We were low on supplies and I was saying that if we cook all the eggs now we don’t have to restart the fire because we literally had one fire or so left, and let’s cook all the eggs now. So the whole situation with sitting on the throne giving orders was actually them learning how to start a fire. Not one of them could start a fire.

In light of that, is there any element of frustration on your part of, hey, this is what really happened versus, hey, this is what is being shown on a show? How do you reconcile those two things? Are you upset by it?
You know what? I can’t say I am upset by it. I also know it is a very complicated thing as they are showing a perspective and a narrative that you don’t feel that you fit. That narrative is so powerful because you have a lot being contextualized that is being pulled together, and you have a lot of emotionally drawn music that is coupled with that scene, and then you have sound bites that may or may not have occurred right at that moment. So I can’t articulate a strong enough argument to fight against all of that stuff that sets the scene just by saying to you in words this morning what actually occurred.

So I understand how it works. I think I understand it closer know than I ever did because I have been there. But am I upset about it? I wouldn’t put it in those words, but I would say that the title of that first episode [ED NOTE: “Appearances are Deceiving’] is very appropriate.

Angelina voted for you to stay and then asked for you jacket after you were voted out, but you kept it. She has since indicated on social media that was a strategy on her part, and that she knew you were going home but thought she might be able to get your jacket out of you if she threw her extra unnecessary vote on Lyrsa instead of you. I’m not sure if you knew that already or not.
I absolutely did know that. Angelina was leading the whole get-Natalie-out effort and I knew that. I was not even really blindsided at Tribal Council because I saw it rolling. And because it’s been an uphill battle for me since day 1 I think I kinda just decided… uncle, this is it, I’m gonna let it roll. The totality of my circumstances while I was out there on the island were so against me. They were so heavy and so negative for the entire run.

So I could see Angelina from day 1 — she is really the most crafty, clever, sneaky person out there. But at the end of the day, she was the only common denominator I had in the game from one group to the next. But what does she do when Lyrsa and Nick came over? She was very excited to share with them what had occurred with the Goliaths. So I never really had a shot with Lyrsa and Nick because both she and Mike ran down everything that had happened prior to them getting there.

Furthermore, Mike was so in love and enamored with Jeremy and Jeremy with he. Mike was pissed and I knew I could never get him because he was upset that Jeremy got voted out. So I was again faced with a sum of negative factors that were weighing against me. Yeah, I could see Angelina, she was very transparent at some point and I thought: Wait a minute, I got two votes and Lyrsa got two votes and somebody’s playing a game. And that’s why I decided, I’m not even going to acknowledge that she’s begging for my jacket because guess what? I would have been so pissed to have left her my jacket because she literally set me up.

Where is the jacket now?
I just wore it last night for my final shot as the episode was ending, and in fact, I brought the jacket in with me this morning. I’m wearing my jacket this morning. I put it on this morning because I said, I’m on Survivor business. I have my Survivor jacket and it is what it is.

But what people don’t realize what happened with me out there was so incredibly ugly and I just dealt with it. I was bullied the whole time I was there. I was berated and injured on the very first challenge and I felt like that injury was deliberate on Jeremy’s behalf. I literally got trampled in the first challenge, so my back was in pain the entire time I was out there. And then there was this whole group dynamic that people were so easy to follow the leader as opposed to looking out for themselves. So I got ostracized. And to add insult to injury, I did not sleep for the first three to five days. I was up day and night and I was outside when they were inside the shelter. And that’s what I meant by the totality of my circumstances. They were so bleak, that anybody else would have cracked. So what I lack maybe in agility, they could not even compare to the fact that I held myself together and didn’t completely lose it.

Did you ever raise those concerns about being injured deliberately by Jeremy with producers?
I wasn’t really sure at the time if he injured me deliberately. What happened was, at the first challenge we had to get through or over this bar and as I got to the bar, there was a David encroaching on my right side. And as I went to lift my left leg to go over the bar, and I’m at midpoint, Jeremy actually grabs my leg, slings it forward, and I get thrown completely off balance and I fall. But guess what? I fall in traffic. So now I’m trampled.

I thought it was a mistake initially, but when I got up and I looked at his face, I thought, oh my God, is he angry at me for falling? He screamed in my face to the point I could feel and smell his breath and he said, “I was trying to help you!” And I said, “How are you trying to help me when you are causing me to fall?” I told him “You probably just cost me this game!” Because I knew that I was hurt, but I didn’t want to tell them that I was hurt as much as I was because I didn’t want them talking about, “Do you need to go out of the game?”

And then looking at his actions all through the game confirmed in my mind that it was deliberate. I really feel like he wanted me out of the game. He never apologized. I don’t even believe he helped me get up. Now this is a person that grabs my leg, tries to fling it forward, and causes me to fall. At a minimum, help me up. At a minimum, apologize. And he knew that I was in pain for the next 10 days. His whole time he was in the game, I was in pain. So everybody is saying that Jeremy tried to help me is ludicrous. Jeremy was a thorn in my side from day 1 and all he needed was Natalia’s comment about being irritated by me making a suggestion.

First of all, I think Natalia completely overreacted. I know what I said at the time and it was basically that she was running around with no sense of organization and I said, “Natalia, can you just slow down a little bit so we can understand what you want so we can help you?” And that snowballed into her being obsessed with me. And that was all that Jeremy needed.

You went to Tribal Council and both times while voting you delivered a blistering comment followed by a compliment about their personal appearance. What was that all about and were you planning to do that at every Tribal Council?
Yeah, I was planning on doing that at every Tribal Council. I said to Jeremy exactly what I thought. He never supported me from day 1. And that’s why when people say that “Jeremy was really trying to help her”— oh, really? If you really knew what happened with Jeremy out there. I got the title of being confrontational and argumentative. You never saw me start an argument. I was defending myself the whole time against Jeremy. So I felt like an abused woman out there. I was disappointed that the rest of the Goliaths would allow that kind of behavior because it was beyond the pale to me.

And particularly during his final Tribal Council, which actually ended up being his eulogy, he actually dared to go there about my funeral. And I just thought that was so ridiculous. And I did say to John and Dan, “I’m disappointed in you guys, because if that were me, never could that happen on my watch, that somebody would be attacked in such a way beyond the game and I sit by and allow that to happen. What happened to you guys?” So they were talking about it after he left, about how horrible it was, but I said, “Imagine how much better it would have been had you stood up in a timely manner and said that.”

I have to own some of my stuff out there. I am a very direct communicator and I do have that thing where everything about me speaks power. What it’s really about is how I try to downplay my power. And this has happened for most of my life, where everything about me is very powerful. I have that presence, so I have to kind of downplay it sometimes and it doesn’t always work to my advantage. So that’s kind of where that comment came from.

So I own that. I own the fact that I did make some mistakes later in the game because I was tired and I was in chronic pain for 10 to 12 days. When Nick and Lyrsa came over, I should have extended myself more to them because I already knew I was in trouble with Mike and I was very suspicious of Angelina. But at that point, again, I’m weary and I’m like, whatever.

Also make sure to read Jeff Probst revealing what happened to the contestants during the cyclone evacuation in this week’s Q&A, and check out our episode recap as well. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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