By Dalton Ross
March 28, 2019 at 09:00 AM EDT
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There is so much we see on Survivor. But due to massive time constraints, for everything we do see, there are hundred other things we don’t. An according to Keith Sowell, it is something we didn’t see on TV that led to his Survivor: Edge of Extinction feud with Chris. We connected with Keith over email to get the scoop on his Extinction Island beef, and while it appeared on television that Keith was mad at Chris for muscling him out of the way to receive an advantage, Keith tells us that there was an indeed another reason that did not make it on air.

We also asked the now-former contestant why he decided to leave the island and give up his shot at winning, how close he was to never going there in the first place, and whom he is rooting for to win the entire thing.

Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You seemed so excited when Jeff told you after not winning the challenge to get back in the game that you all could still go back to Extinction Island for another chance. And yet the next thing we saw was you and Wendy raising the sail to quit. What happened and why did you ultimately choose not to continue on?
KEITH SOWELL: As soon as I heard “another chance,” of course the first thing I do is jump at that! I was so excited! But when you get off the boat, step back on Edge of Extinction, and immediately start getting firewood again, you realize that literally nothing has changed. You start to evaluate. You realize Edge and Survivor the game are two different worlds. The Edge is so much more abstract. It’s not as simple as “quit.” It’s what you need it to be and what you can take from it.

When you get voted out and your story ends by others’ control, the Edge is putting the pen back in your hand to say when the story is complete. Reem, Chris, and Aubry’s stories weren’t over because they still had something to prove. I had proven to myself everything I needed, broke the limits I needed to, and my Edge story was complete.

We saw you when you were voted out on day 6 really hesitate and pray on whether to pick up the torch and reenter the game. How close were you to not continuing on at that point and why were you thinking about giving up so early?
Every time I was asked this question, or someone approached me week 2 with “did you pick up the torch,” I laughed! It’s so laughable because I never considered not picking up that torch. I was watching that cliffhanger just like everyone else was because I didn’t expect to see that interpretation of me picking up the torch. I was so angry walking out of my Tribal Council, so of course I wanted the final say. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that me praying was because of how thankful and grateful I was for a second chance, not reconsideration!

You snuck off at Extinction Island to try to find the advantage on your own, but the others caught up to you. Chris then muscled you out of the way to gain the practicing advantage and you said it was “not cool.” What else happened there that we didn’t see and why did Chris become your Edge of Extinction enemy?
That was definitely my lowest moment! That was my valley. After he got the advantage, everything went downhill. When I’m stressed to that extent, I pray because that’s my safe space. At that point, Chris says, “Oh, you prayin’ now?” and continued to, what I believed, insult my faith which is off-limits for me. A culmination of things led to a breakdown that I take joy in overcoming, and developed this whole David and Goliath dynamic.

Not including the folks at the Edge of Extinction, whom were you rooting for to win the game when you decided to quit?
Based on who I had interactions with, I was rooting for Reem from off the Edge because we had been there the longest and developed a friendship that was bound to extend past the game. I thought being first vote had hit her hard, and knew she still had a lot to prove for herself. In the game, I was rooting for David, because, despite his reputation preceding him, he is one who is capable of playing the most strategic game while being a genuine human being who doesn’t cross personal boundaries or burn bridges.

Also read our merge episode interviews with Big Wendy and Kelley Wentworth, as well as our Q&A with Jeff Probst and our episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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