Jonathan Young responds to accusations he was not treating women well on Survivor
Jonathan Young made fire for the tribe all season long on Survivor 42. But when he needed to make fire to save his game, he just wasn't quite as quick as his island BFF Mike Turner. Jonathan lost the final four fire-making challenge — one snapped rope away from making the final three and making his case for the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar check that goes along with it.
Instead, Jonathan went over to the jury, giving Mike his only vote against eventual winner Maryanne Oketch. How would Jonathan have done had he made it to the end? Why did he vote for Mike over Maryanne (and Romeo Escobar)? And what was up with his topsy-turvy relationship with Lindsay, who said in her EW exit interview that Jonathan was a "misogynist" out on the island? We asked the fourth-place finisher all that and a lot more shortly after the Survivor 42 finale aired.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us why you voted for Mike to win the million dollars.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Because I thought he deserved a million dollars. I was with Mike for the entire time after the merge and I saw that he did some things that deserved the million dollars.
You seemed stunned after you lost at the fire-making challenge and kept staring over at your flame. What was it like to go out in that way?
Oh, man. At first, I was a little disappointed, but then I thought, "If somebody's going to take me out, at least it's my main man Mike." I was the last torch to be snuffed and I did everything I could do. I got to fight the good fight that I wanted. I left on empty.
Let's say you beat Mike at fire. How do you think you do in the final three against Maryanne and Romeo?
I think I would've done well when it came to talking. I think that going to the jury and them asking me questions and answering questions will be great. How people would've voted, we'll never know.
We never saw anything about you uncovering that Omar had told Lindsey about his idol nullifier and how that swayed your vote at the final six. Were you upset that whole piece of the puzzle never made it to air?
Yeah, I hate that they didn't show it because it was an advantage that wasn't mentioned on the whole season. That was a lot. But I mean, I understand that there's only a [certain amount of] time that they have, and that Survivor's got to do what they've got to do to get that hour filled. And I guess it just didn't quite fit the bill.
Was there anything else that happened out there that you wish we could have seen that never made it on to TV?
Yeah, I did a lot of survivalist things. I climbed trees that were 40-feet high. I speared a lot of fish. I did a lot of things that didn't make the cut, but again, they know better than me, my friend. But I hate that they didn't put some more of that in there.
Why call Jeff Probst Mr. Jeff? Where did that come from?
Oh man, he earned it. The respect is due to Mr. Jeff. I got to give him respect because I've been watching him for years and he's worked hard. And whenever anybody has my respect, I've got to call him Mr. or Mrs., or ma'am, yes, sir… I got to give him that respect.
Whenever I see a new cast, I always keep an eye on the big muscular guys and how they are going to manage because they need so much fuel and so many calories to keep going. When did that luck of sustenance start to hit you?
I went into it going like, "I'm going to leave this island on empty. I'm going to leave it all on the table." On the Taku tribe, if I speared four fish and there's four people left, then I would have one fish and I spent all that energy getting the fish. They know that the big guy normally needs to eat more. But if I take that out of it and I'm not eating more, then that's one less thing that they have to worry about from me. The less they look at me, the better my game plays.
Did you buy that Romeo had a real immunity idol?
[Laughs] Oh, absolutely not. I love Romeo, but no one believed that that was a real immunity idol.
He told me that you would all say you didn't believe it, but that you did believe it.
Romeo was like, "Guys, I have an idol." And they didn't go to the confessionals when we're all talking about it. But nobody was buying that Romeo had an idol. That's why everybody didn't care. They were like, "Come on, man. Really?"
We saw some players call out your strategy skills a bit. Why was that?
Yeah, I thought, "Well, they must not know my strategy very well." Everybody has a different perception, and everybody is perceived differently. They have no idea what it's like to be 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds and how you're perceived and what you have to do to change perceptions. Just like I have no idea what it's like being them. But yeah, they didn't see my strategy and that's completely okay because I didn't want them to.
You and Lindsay started the game pretty tight, then veered off. She said she didn't like the way you talked to her out there. Maryanne mentioned in the finale that you weren't treating the women on the tribe well. What do you make of those comments?
Man, I hate that they felt that way. Because whenever I got a chance to talk about them, I would give them praise. I would say, "You guys are doing great." Lindsay, I would always talk about, "She's such a dominant force to be in these challenges. We got to get her out because she's so good." And that's what I would do is I'd try to build them up and I hate that they... Now they get to see that I was always lifting them up.
You absolutely dominated at challenges in the pre-merge portion of the game. You did win two individual immunities after the merge, but were you frustrated you did not have more success in individual challenges?
Yeah, the individual challenges, I would get frustrated because I would always come in second. I would always be right there. Four of them, I would be second place. When it was me and Lindsay balancing the balls, my ball would go right by the hole. It was frustrating, but hey, close does not matter in Survivor.
How crushing was it to lose that last one to Romeo?
Man, I don't know what happened, but I must have had brain fog because I did six on the practice round before that and I always had six balls going. And yeah, I don't know. It was disappointing, but there's a place in Survivor that you reach and all you can do is all you can do. And I knew that everything that I was giving is all that I had to give.
I think for viewers, when they think about you on the season, the first image that's going to probably come to mind is going to be you tossing your teammates in the water in that challenge with all the swells. What's the biggest memory that you take out of this experience?
I liked the Taku memories, honestly, when we all got to work together. Because the four Taku was Maryanne, Omar, Lindsay, and I. And we did really well as a team. We figured out how each other works, what our pros and cons are as people and in the challenges. And yeah, my best memories are going to be on the Taku tribe.
Now that you've seen what this show is about and what it does to you physically going out there and not eating for 26 days, would you do it again? If you get the call to come back for Survivor, are you in or are you out?
Let me tell you, if I get the chance to go back to Survivor, I don't care when the call is, I'm on a plane. In a heartbeat, I would be back on Survivor. You're making me happy even thinking about it.
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