JD Robinson reacts to the 'poor Survivor play on my part'
Jairus "JD" Robinson thought he had produced the ultimate "money" shot, calling his winning ring toss as it was in the air. But in the end, the shot missed, and with it, so did the college student's dreams of winning his favorite show.
Survivor 41 claimed its fifth victim, as JD was unanimously voted out of his tribe. Whether he was ousted due to his poor performances in challenges, or due to the fact that he was caught with a secret advantage, or because Shantel wanted to steal his extra vote is a mystery, since the players refused to enlighten JD after blindsiding him.
So how is the superfan dealing with his early exit? Does he have any clarity now on why he was cut loose? And how does JD feel about Shantel humming her evil theme song while crushing his dreams? We caught up with one of this season's breakout personalities to find out.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, how are you doing? Getting voted out early is hard, but it's extra hard for superfans of the game that set really high expectations for themselves. I know a lot of people struggle when their results don't match up to those expectations. So what has it been like for you over the past six months?
JD ROBINSON: I mean, getting voted out was so hard for me because I wanted so badly to contribute to the evolution of the game. I wanted so badly to play hard, and I wasn't really in a position where I could be in control, so I really wanted to make the merge so I could change my trajectory, because I knew I was playing bad pre-merge. But as far as how I feel, I think Chelsea from Island of the Idols sums it up pretty good when she's like, "Imagine preparing for a marathon your whole life and then hurting yourself right before the end of the race and then you can't even finish it." That's a really good analogy, and that's really how I feel. It sucks, and watching it back sucks.
I was going to ask about that because it's this weird sort of double whammy you all have to endure — where you have to live it out there, and then you got to live it all over again when it airs.
The living everything all over again was hard. I remember messing up the sandbag challenge. I remember that, and then to watch it back, I'm like, "Oh my gosh!" And then to see the fan reception to it is just terrible. And yeah, giving Shan my extra vote — it sucks to see, you know.
You asked why you got voted out and they didn't really give you an answer. How much was that rattling around your brain in terms of figuring out why you were cut loose?
I know it doesn't look like I was ever strategizing, but I was strategizing so much. I was always trying to figure out, what was the optimum move? The problem was I didn't have the social capital to be able to make those optimal moves. And so I gave Shan my extra vote and they voted me out with it. I knew that was the reason why, but at the same time, the blowup Genie had at camp was way worse than what was seen. She was throwing things and cursing at people. And we were like, "Oh my gosh!" So I'm thinking this chick is so obviously not with you. I'm giving you this side of trust, so why get rid of me? And so, that was mostly the why, and then another [question] was, why did Genie also vote against me? Because I really wanted to work with Genie to get out Ricard.
Well, that's the big question in that you've got the extra vote, you've got Genie. So why not try to make the play there to take out Ricard? Or maybe you did.
Contrary to what people may believe, I was always trying to flip the game. I did not want to work with Shan and Ricard. I worked with them out of necessity, not out of want, because the other people in my tribe didn't want to work with me then. And so as soon as we got back from the challenge, I wanted to flip the game. I've been in a position where I'm just Shan and Ricard's puppet. And I don't like doing that. I had a confessional about that, but so I go to Genie and I'm like, "Genie, we're on the bottom." I think it showed a little bit of the conversation. I'm like, "We can flip the game and be on top. If you vote with me and I use my extra vote, you can vote out Ricard and then it doesn't even matter what happens. After that, we are in a position of power and can win this game!"
But Genie was kind of beating around the bush, and I'm like, "This chick is not gonna vote with me, so why would I waste my advantage doing this?" After that, you see me and Shan talk and I'm like, "I'm not using my advantage anyway, so I might as well just put all my chips in, go for broke, and try to gain this extra bit of trust from Shan and give her my extra vote. It worked before."
Beyond worrying about getting the extra vote back, how much did you think, "Hey, if this person is demanding my advantage, maybe she's not the partner I thought she was"? Or did it just seem like she was paranoid and needed to be calmed down?
I'm going to give a little kudos to Shan here. That was not the first time she did that. Almost every Tribal Council, she would freak out. And I thought it was real. I thought, "This chic is paranoid." And so if that was the first time she freaked out at me, then that would have been a red flag, but it wasn't the first time. And so in that moment, I'm like, "Shan, I'm not coming after you, girl. I'm with you. Trust me." Even though originally I did want to play it here, but I had changed my mind. So I thought Genie told her that I wanted to get out Ricard with my extra vote. So that's why I was like, "No, I'm with you. Don't worry about it." Then she asked if I'd give her my extra vote, and I ended up doing it.
How do you feel about her humming her evil theme song as she crushed your dreams?
Honestly, the whole theme song thing, I'm like, "That is so cool. Why did I not think of it? Why did I not do something like that?" I could hear her hum on the beach and was like, "What is wrong with this chick? Why is she always humming?" I thought she was humming Looney Tunes. You know what I mean? Turns out she was humming my demise.
So all his happened because of the advantage sticking out of your pants. What happened there?
There's really no explanation. There's just poor Survivor play on my part. I think as a superfan, as somebody who's so energetic to be out there, I was always looking to the future and not being there in the present and looking at myself like, "What am I doing right now? And how can I make the most optimal decision?" I needed to be more vigilant out there. And so I had the extra vote sticking out of my pants. I didn't even put my shirt on. There were some logistical reasons why I didn't have my clothes on in that scene. I wish I could've had my clothes on because if I put on my shirt, you don't see the extra vote, but what are you going to do? And so, yeah, it was poor Survivor play, and the fans will be like, "That move's awful." And it is. I can't deny that it was just terrible.
Shan called your game sloppy at one point. Do you agree?
Sloppy? Absolutely. I agree that it was sloppy, and the problem was, I was making mistakes, and then I would try to correct those mistakes and make another mistake. But while I was in the game, I was kinda thinking, "Hey, I keep making these mistakes. Maybe it's kind of good for my game if everybody else sees JD's a fricking buffoon out here." I wanted to be underestimated. The problem was, I was doing worse than I actually thought! I thought that would actually end up helping my game, but it still got me voted out. So that sucks.
Let's get into the challenge stuff. Shan called you out for showboating with the "Money!" shot, as it were, and you were attempting some weird NBA layup–style sandbag throws last week. Were you too focused on style points, as some alleged?
I don't think so. The reason I did the sandbags was not because I was trying to be super cool. Brad is 7-foot-7, and Shan is 6-foot-6, and I'm like 5-foot-8. So I'm like, "If I jump, maybe I can get a little closer and put that sandbag up there." So that's why I jumped. And so the whole money shot — yeah, I probably shouldn't have said "money," but why are they complaining about that? It's not that big a deal. No one else on my tribe landed a ring at that challenge. And we switched it. They didn't show a switch, but other people were throwing rings. I was the only one who could get it. And then they're like, "JD blew the challenge for us. He said 'money' and should have said 'Tribal.'" And I'm like, "We wouldn't have had to say 'Tribal' if you would've landed a ring!" And so, yeah, my challenge performance was lackluster, but I don't think it was as bad as people made it out to be.
You went on that first hike with Xander and Danny. Do you think you might have worked with them later at the merge had you all made it there?
One-hundred percent. Me and Xander were boys on that hike. I love Danny. Danny didn't do a whole lot of talking on the trek, but me and Xander, we were going back and forth that whole time. We had so much in common. And so we made a deal with each other, right? Me, Danny, and Xander made a deal with each other, and it involved two other people from our tribes. I was like, "I love these two people, so come a swap, let's protect them." Xander named his two people, and Danny named his two people. I won't say theirs, but mine were Brad and Shan.
And so that's another thing — I'm coming back from the hike and telling that lie and everybody's like, "You're such a bad liar." That conversation was like an hour, and it showed you like 15 seconds of it. And afterwards, I take Brad and Shan aside and I'm talking to them like, "Hey, guys, I went to bat for you two I just met. I gave us more options. If y'all keep me around, we're together. I'm proving my loyalty to you right now." So I thought that was a really good strategic play, going to them and being like, "I created more options for you." And that's why Brad goes to bat for me at that first Tribal Council. That's why Shan doesn't vote for me at that first Tribal Council. And so I thought that was a good move. It wasn't shown, but it happened.
So much does not get shown. Is there anything else we didn't see that you wish had made it on air?
I really felt like I had control of that first Tribal Council. It didn't really show a lot of that. I got up to say, "Brad," right? Because you even see Ricard whispered "Brad" in my ear, and Shan was like, "We're doing Brad," and I'm like, "I can't let this happen. So I get up and I'm like, "Getting rid of Brad's a terrible idea." You see me whisper to Shan. You see me say, "I'll do whatever you want." Like, you have to say that. But in all actuality, I was not ready to write Brad's name down that night. And so that's another confusing thing: I saved Brad from Ricard and Shan, and then the next vote he wants to go after me — the person who saved him with Ricard and Shan. So it was just a lot happening out there, and then I was like, "What am I supposed to do at this point?
I know you wanted to come in and play big, and everyone dreams they're going to win and be the big genius. Obviously, that didn't happen, but you were a breakout character. Because while not all of it was flattering or positive, they were using your confessionals all the time. Are you at least taking comfort in the fact that you were still a really big part of the season?
One-hundred percent. I think I have the record for most confessionals in a premiere episode, with 11. So that's awesome. I actually liked my edit. I actually liked kind of having the Fabio edit, because I can't be mad at that. It's how I looked while I was playing out there. And so the whole thing with all my screen time is you have to remember, I was a big part of what was happening. That's why I get screen time with all the stuff with the extra vote — the reason of who's being targeted and why I contributed to that. I'm not bitter about my edit. I think it was great. It pretty much shows why I went home. I made a lot of mistakes. I just wish it would have shown a little more of my strategic play.
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