The fifth-place finisher talks about what could have been, why he didn't vote for Xander, and gives a nod to a past great that didn't make it to air.
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Ricard Foyé entered the Survivor 41 finale as the biggest threat to win the game. Which is precisely why he didn't.

Known as a challenge beast who somehow managed to also play a cut-throat game while not offending those whose throats he cut, Ricard appeared to be a shoo-in to win the million dollars should he make it to the end. That meant he needed to win immunity in the final 5 immunity challenge to stay alive, but when Erika Casupanan found an advantage that gave her a big head start in the immunity challenge, Ricard could not make up enough time on the puzzle to win the necklace that would have saved his game and given him at least one more day in the game and a chance at the final 3.

Would Ricard have won the challenge had Erika not had an advantage? How would he have done at a final four fire-making competition? And why did he vote for Erika to win over his bromance partner Xander Hastings? We asked the fan favorite all that and more, and he revealed a hidden tribute to his favorite former player that never made it to air.

Survivor
Ricard Foyé on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, here's the big question: If Erika does not have an advantage in the final five immunity challenge, do you solve the puzzle first and win immunity?

RICARD FOYÉ: I do. I have no hesitation in that. I know they showed a little clip where there was a puzzle piece on the ground to add some suspense, but I picked it up right away. That's just the editing and I would've kicked ass in that puzzle. But it's fine. That is part of the game, advantages, and if I had found an advantage in a different portion of the game, I obviously would've used it and whatever outcome would come from that advantage would be just as valid. And so I have to accept that, but I do believe I would have won that puzzle. I'm good at puzzles.

Does that make it harder to go that way?

I think it does. It's hard to really say because everything was going to be disappointing without a win, but I think the fact that it was an advantage in a challenge so close to the end... I kind of feel if you've made it to a certain point in the game, the hope is that you have put enough effort into the game that you have to navigate yourself 100 percent to get to the final Tribal and so it's kind of hard when outside forces interfere with that.

So when you walked into that final five Tribal, you knew your goose was cooked, it seemed, right?

Yes. There was always the option of Xander using his idol, which in my defense and my argument to him — which I absolutely understand when you trust no one out there, this 20 year old's not going to believe what I'm saying — but I honestly feel in my heart, the only path Xander had to possibly winning, and this is a possibility, it's not even a guarantee, was to show Yase that he was willing to use his idol on another person and not be, I don't want call him selfish, but not be selfish with that idol by playing it on me.

That would show, "Oh, he was actually willing to do it. It's just it wasn't for the right person." And then if he personally took out the biggest threat in fire, I think he would've garnered a few votes and that could have been his path to the end. But the reality was, Erika had immunity. She had Deshawn in her back pocket and Heather was her ride or die. And so, essentially that move of getting me out, that's everybody's move with him kind of on the bottom of this barrel of monkeys and he doesn't get the credit for that and so I think I really hurt him. I truly believe there was a chance that he could have done better by keeping me longer. I have explained that to him.

I know you forged this big island bromance with Xander out there, so why vote for Erika to win?

I think there's a difference between having a friendship and just honoring gameplay. In my heart, I felt that Heather and Erika played an all-around better game. I guess I felt for too long in the game that he was somebody I was bringing along because I could beat him. I felt other people felt that way. I felt I could beat anyone, but other folks viewed him as not a threat. He just seemed inauthentic out there. He is such a sweet, honest human being, but in the game, perception is reality and every interaction that he had with people, it seemed fake — just like a lot of people in the game find me to be untrustworthy. They don't believe what I say even when I'm telling the truth. It's just a character trait.

And with him, he would do these things of, "Oh, I'm giving up the grilled cheese. Oh, I'm giving up the immunity so I can get rice, and I'm crying and on your side and I feel for you," but all of these things, they just come off as inauthentic. And so he just didn't really have the deep relationships with people nor the gameplay, because he was getting input and intel from everyone else on when to play his idol, when not to play his idol, where the votes were going to go. So he didn't really have to be all that savvy in the game, which I hate. I don't want to diss on him in any capacity, but that's just how I felt.

Survivor
Ricard Foyé on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

How much did it hurt him when he misread the jury on that Deshawn truth bomb and then his decision to bring Erika to the end? Was that just seen as a massive miscalculation?

I feel like he could have possibly gotten a vote or two from Yase, but I don't think that was really a possibility at any point. I felt like his game was over a while before that. It's definitely even bigger of a reason not to award him with even a friendship vote when I'm like, "I can't justify this. How do you bring the next biggest target and not take her out with fire?" And even the conversation we were having, especially when you watch the edit, of him knowing she can't make fire and his justification for bringing her was, "Oh, but if she wanted fire, that's a notch in her belt." We all knew she couldn't make fire! She never made fire at camp. She told us how many hours it took when she was on Exile, but there was never this misconception that Erika knew how to make fire. So I don't really know where that even came from.

Let's chart your path here a little bit. Let's say that you do win that immunity at final five. How are your fire-making skills?

They're good. It's kind of funny when I think back to the Ua days because it's so comical, the lack of effort that I put into pretty much everything so that people would underestimate me. And I was on a tribe where Brad was very much, "Men are strength." And I don't agree with that in any capacity, and it genuinely frustrated me and I think it was one of many reasons we could never have a relationship inside or outside of the game. But that aside, he was going to keep me because I was a man in the game. That's why he kept J.D. He was like, "We need to keep strength. Let's take out Sarah." Sarah was a beast! She was a phenomenal swimmer. So I knew I was going to be safe for a while there and so I hid everything. I never once made a fire in front of anybody. I just really hid who I was in my strength because I wanted to play a Natalie Anderson game. I wanted to be underestimated, and I was.

So let's just play it out even further. Let's say you either win the last challenge or you make fire and make it to the end. Is there anyone that can beat you at the end?

No. I know I'm very sleepy and delirious right now, so I'm going to come off as very stern and kind of an ass, but I have enough backup from the entire jury that all but maybe two were willing to give me their vote and were disappointed that I did not win. And so I feel like I have enough backup to know I would've won in any scenario, no matter who I was up against from the final five.

I assume you were planning to pull a Jeremy Collins and drop that news about the impending baby in your final Tribal Council speech. Were you saving that for day 26?

Absolutely, I was. I definitely wanted to use that as another notch of like, "Look at the mental state I was in. We're all in a mental state that is unhealthy in this game, and look what I was dealing with!" Yeah, I did have that in mind, but it was also self-preservation. I didn't want to think or talk about the possibility of missing the birth. Everybody talked about little calendars and keeping track of how many days we were there and what the date was and anniversaries, and I did not want to be like, "Oh, it's almost the due date." I just didn't want those interactions to break my concentration from the game and so there were two main reasons for that.

Also, I kind of wish they had left something in. Jeremy, when he went to vote out Kimmi in Second Chance, he skipped to the voting booth. And after I dropped my little truth bomb of, "I'm expecting a baby. The baby's due this week," I actually skipped to the voting booth in honor of Jeremy because I love him as a player. It didn't make the cut, but I skipped, and Jeff said, "Oh, never seen that before," and I was like, "Really?"

Survivor
Ricard Foyé and Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

What date did you get home and what date was the birth?

When I actually got home, I think it was May 12. The baby was late, and was born on June 1, which is the first day of Pride Month. And he's a rainbow baby, since we lost our last baby. And so it's this cute little June 1 baby.

That's amazing. So what else didn't we get to see this season?

I think it was pretty jarring to me to not show how my bond with Shan formed. Day one, I was not going to tell anybody I was hard of hearing and then I was like, "You know what? I'm going to do this." It's the way I look at people and I've seen it on Twitter — people have a lot of thoughts on how I stare at people and my eyes, and they call me creepy. I knew I was going to come off as creepy with my staring when reading lips and I needed to tell people. And after I did, Shan took me on the beach, and we had been there maybe three or four hours, and she told me that she was living with an autoimmune disease and that she had just gone through chemo.

And then I shared with her another medical thing about me, where I had some lumps removed and we just bonded and we were tight. We were so in sync in every capacity, even when we fought. I also wish they showed that we instantly made up. We were just these two alphas that just wanted power and I knew I was going to lose to her with the power struggle and I was like, "You know what? It's fine. I can play under the radar." But I wish they had shown how deep of a connection we really had because we weren't just allies — we were absolute best friends out there.

Have you been recognized by Survivor fans while working on Alaska Airlines and what's that been like?

I have some features about myself that are very identifiable, specifically my silver hair. I am recognized constantly and I really did not anticipate that. I am recognized all the fricking time — every day, all the time. So that's jarring. I really did not anticipate it, as silly as that might sound.

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