Deshawn Radden reacts to having his 'heart ripped out of his chest' on Survivor 41 finale
Deshawn Radden made it all the way to the end of Survivor 41, a remarkable achievement even if he did only get one vote from the jury, losing to Erika Casupanan 7-1-0. But Deshawn's journey to the final three was filled with peaks and valleys as he struggled to come to terms with playing for a cause vs. playing for himself. His openness and honesty in discussing that struggle became a key theme of the season — especially in his confrontations with fellow alliance member Shan Smith.
Ultimately, the alliance's mission of having another Black winner fell short as even Shan and Liana Wallace voted for Erika, with Deshawn's lone vote coming courtesy of island BFF Danny McCray. Why didn't Deshawn do better with the jury? Did he think he was a goner during that fire-making contest with Heather? And how does he feel now about his game seven months later? The doctor is in as we talked to the Survivor 41 runner-up to get his take on everything that went down including a really difficult exchange with Shan at final Trial Council. It's a raw and open and honest conversation from someone who also had plenty of them while playing the game.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, congratulations on being the runner-up of Survivor 41.
DESHAWN RADDEN: Thank you, man. I really do appreciate it. I'm glad we made it through, man. I didn't know if I was going to make it here, but I'm glad we made it through and I'm feeling great. So, thank you. I appreciate it.
All right, let's get into it. Were you surprised to receive only one vote at the end?
No, I wasn't surprised to receive only one vote. I knew I would've been surprised if I didn't receive that vote. I would've killed Danny. I would've been so upset. I wasn't surprised by the middle of that Tribal Council. I realized that the jury really respected Erika and she played a really good under the radar game and you can just kind of see by the design of the questions and the tone of the way that certain players and the jury were asking the questions that Xander and I probably weren't in the running. So, I wasn't surprised by the end. I actually leaned over right before Jeff was going to read the votes and I told Erika, "Congratulations!"
I know you're doing jury votes in your head as you go to Tribal. So what votes surprised you? Who were some votes you thought you had or at least thought you had a shot at that you didn't end up getting?
So before Tribal even started, it's going to sound really delusional, but between the time that I won fire and the time that I actually started Tribal, in my head, I'm thinking there's no way I lost this thing. I'm thinking, I had a really strong bond with Evvie. I'm pretty sure she's going to vote me. I had a much stronger bond with Naseer than Erika did, so I'm for sure he's going to vote for me. I didn't really know where Shan and Liana stood, but I knew that wherever Shan was going to vote, Liana was probably going to vote that way. I was hoping that she could see through my vulnerability and my transparency that whatever you thought I was doing or whatever stunt you thought I was trying to pull, there was rationale for why I did that.
I wanted to hope that I had Liana and Shan. I knew I didn't have Ricard. I thought that there was a chance I could have Heather because Heather and I were really, really close. If Danny was my number one, I think Heather was probably like the number one and a half. So I thought that there was a possibility that I could have Heather. Then, at that point, we're looking that I got Danny and maybe Shan, maybe Liana, Naseer, Evvie, and then possibly Heather. So I didn't know that I was dead in the water until they started asking those questions.
Why do you think you were dead in the water? Because we're watching on TV before Tribal starts and we're thinking all three of you have a shot at this thing.
I want to be diplomatic here. Okay, so I'll take accountability for sure. I might get static, but I think that certain people are a little bit weird about emotional gameplay. I want to be the person to say, "It's okay to be emotional as a male, as a woman. It does not matter who you are, emotions are healthy." I don't think I always express them in the most healthy way. I think that when the jury was looking at my game, they might have seen more volatility, maybe more emotion, and they probably just didn't like me to be doing that.
I love Erika. I think she played an amazing game, super deserving. I think she deserved to win over both Xander and I, regardless. And I do think that there was a strong desire to have another woman winner, and especially a Filipino woman was so amazing, especially givin the game that she played. I'm glad that she got the win because she played a great under the radar strategy. I think that it helped that it's been 7 seasons and the jury really wanted to see that. And I think I also didn't help myself by how emotionally I was playing.
Obviously, Shan had some tough words at that final Tribal and talked about your strategic moves being more like temper tantrums. How difficult was it to sit there and hear that and be questioned as to whether you were using a social movement as a fake-out to hijack her game and the alliance? ? I have to imagine that wasn't easy for you to sit there and hear that.
Oh yeah, for sure. Man, it felt like, when I heard that question, I'm not exaggerating because it felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest because it's one of those things that you never even want that to be a thought, and especially considering the personal relationship that Shan and I had. Then on top of me feeling I was able to express how I was feeling in that moment and kind of explaining that, I was in genuine shock. I guess a little bit of fear too, of what is the public going to think of you? The fact that this is how I'm being perceived by this Black woman. I didn't realize why she was doing it in the moment. I just was so confused as to why should we use that as a reason not to vote for me.
For me, it's like, "All right, just don't vote for me. You don't like me, just say you don't like me, but don't pull that out." So that really hurt. Again, it's hard for me to even come on here and to say that hurt my feelings because a lot of people see me already as an emotional person. So it's like, "Oh, he's just being emotional. Of course he's hurt by that."
I think that, at the end of the day, it genuinely just felt a little dirty coming from her and I just wish it hadn't happened that way. I feel like if that's an issue that she had, I would've loved to have addressed that outside of the game when I'm not pitching my case for a million dollars and trying to win this game that I love. I would've loved to have talked to her off-camera about that, but now that's the stain I got to kind of walk with. I hope people don't perceive me as just being a cry baby again. I was a little bit hurt.
No, I think you're being, as you have always been, very open about your feelings. And it's not easy going through something like that, and it's even less easy doing it on national television, so it's completely natural to have emotion about that. All right, let's play a little game of Survivor What If? Let's say Heather does beat you at fire. Whom do you vote for to win?
Erika, 100 percent. It's not even close. Because like I said earlier, I really do respect her game. I think that especially me playing the entire game with her, I think we would forget Erika. Every day she was on the island, I was on the island. We spent the longest time together. So I know the nuances of her game. I know that she was setting up that little minority alliance on the side. I know that she won those immunities. I know that she was really fighting from the bottom. So I respected that and I also knew that I loved Heather, but she didn't need the money. So I knew that Erika was gunning for it. I think Erika was the strongest player of the three. A shout out to Danny because he played a good game as well.
How surprised were you to win that fire challenge? Maybe it was different being there, but the way it's edited together, we see Heather's got a flame for a loooong time. I think the wind was maybe taking hers away from her rope, which is what helped you out. Were you thinking you were done at all during that?
Oh my God. First of all, God bless the wind and the way that it was blowing and the direction and the speed. Everything happened to just come together. Her flame was hovering over her rope and I had flame and then it kept going out and then she had this one go off next to me and I'm like, "Oh, I really just lost the game." I realized like if you're going to lose, at least lose going as hard as you could possibly go. Let her rope get snapped and let that happen while you're still scraping magnesium, while you're still stacking, while you're still trying to put the sticks together. Don't go out like a clown, right?
So there was just a voice in my head. I think maybe it was my dad's or mom's voice or whoever just talking and saying like, "Don't quit. If you're going to lose, just don't quit." Yeah, I definitely thought I was a goner for sure. I'm glad I didn't quit because that's what happens when you stick things out.
You got a big edit this season, but even for those who get big edits, there's so much that just doesn't make it to TV that we don't get to see. Is there anything that didn't make it into an episode this season that you wish we could have seen as viewers?
So part of it made it into the season. You see the challenge throw, which I think a lot of fans thought was really funny with the commentary. A lot of fans also were like, why are you just running this information that Erika gave you back to Sydney? That actually wasn't the case. So, funny fact is that I was actually gunning for Sydney before Erika was gunning for Sydney. The reason why was because Danny and Sydney became really, really close. I started to feel threatened by that. I was like, "Why are y'all discussing strategy without me? Why are y'all bringing plans to me after y'all have discussed them without me?" Really just trying to be controlling. This is awful, very awful to me, but that's where I was at. So I wanted Sydney out of the game.
So I actually brought the idea to vote out Sydney to Heather and I told Heather that Sydney was gunning for her, which was the truth. I don't know if you remember the dream secret scene, but Heather created the dream because I told her that Sydney was gunning for her and she wanted to let Sydney know like, "Listen, I see you, but I'm not going to write out my ally."
Then, on the flip side to that, at the actual challenge throw, I was actually the one who initiated the target on Sydney in the vote. There was no camera there, so you didn't see that on screen. So everybody on the team was in on the challenge throw except for Heather and Naseer. Erika was in on it. She just thought that we were throwing the challenge to get rid of Sydney. And Sydney was in on it. She didn't want to play because she felt like she couldn't throw a challenge, but she thought if we lost it was going to be Erika.
I think that speaks a little bit to my social game, that I was able to make these two players kind of pit against each other. But I was actually the one who initiated the target on Sydney, and I think everybody will pretty much agree to that. So I kind of wish that was shown, although I felt like an a--hole gunning for her.
You had some big highs and some big lows in this game. When you add it all together, are you glad you did it? After the highs and lows and the $100,000, are you happy you signed up to do the show?
Oh my God, yeah! I mean, the money's great, but I'm so happy that I did the show because of how much I learned about myself. At first, when the season aired, I was listening to some of the confessionals from the other players and I was trying to be defensive like, "No, that's not me!" But I really got a chance to see my personality unfold in a really stressful situation, and I realized no, these are things you need to work on. Sometimes you are volatile. Sometimes you are impulsive and sometimes you can be those things that people are saying.
I think beyond the money, it was such an honor to play the game because of how much I got to learn about my actual personality and to better myself in the future. I think that goes beyond anything that money can buy. I'm just hoping that I can use the lessons in the future as consistently and as best as I can. So I'm definitely glad I did it.
Finally, how many times have people explained the Monty Hall problem to you since the Do or Die episode aired?
So, listen, I had no idea who Monty Hall was. I didn't know if he had a problem. I didn't want to know, because if I had known then I would've lost the damn game. I would've been out at whatever, seventh place. So I've heard it a lot. I've definitely listened to podcasts where they've explained it and it's like, "Yeah, dope, dope." But if I would've known the Monty Hall problem, I would've went home! So I'm glad I didn't know, but I heard it quite a bit, and I get the logic behind it. I get the secret behind it, but sometimes you just got to go with your gut. And I'm glad I did that in that moment.
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