Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Butch Lockley regrets letting guard down on The Amazon
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
We always talk about difficult Survivor is for those who play it. What does not get talked about nearly as often is how difficult it can be for the folks those players leave behind. “While I was gone for the 45 days, it was really tough on my family,” says Butch Lockley, who packed up his “Believe in Yourself” banner and left his wife and kin to go play Survivor: The Amazon. “Of course, they could not tell anyone where I was at, and they had to do things without me for 45 days.”
With family members not allowed to spill the beans as to Principal Butch’s location, theories abounded. “Rumors around town was that I had drug and alcohol problems to even getting special counseling and that I could not be at school,” says Butch. "My favorite was that someone saw me in another state living with the Amish because they saw me in a buggy."
While that sounds almost funny, the reality for Butch’s family was not. “Students were rude and sometimes downright mean to my kids that were in school,” says Butch. “There were many questions and terrible rumors about me throughout the town.”
Fortunately, those rumors were finally put to rest months later. “The good thing was, when CBS announced the new series for season 6 and that I was on it, everything changed to the good,” Butch says. “After that, I received a lot of support from the school superintendent teachers and, of course, my friends.”
Butch also met some new friends out on Survivor: The Amazon, but not enough to save him once he got to the final four. In his Quarantine Questionnaire, Butch reveals that he may shoulder some of the blame for not making it past fourth place himself, saying he took his foot off the gas at the wrong time. Of course, he says a lot more than that, and you can read every word in his Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
BUTCH LOCKLEY: After Survivor: The Amazon episodes were over, I was asked to do some motivational speaking to students using the banner I brought for the show as the theme. Which of course was “believe in yourself.” The speaking started expanding into other areas of education and some businesses.
I eventually had to come up with other themes that we’re all tied to Survivor but fit into what I believed in and helped me during the show. I am still asked to do a few speaking engagements during the year but not as many as I did after the show. I currently enjoy family time and of course being grandpa to four grandsons. I still enjoy the outdoors by going fishing and hunting anything else that deals with outside activity.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
I don’t think there is a single proudest moment from being on the show. I can think of a couple of things, and that starts with being chosen for the show. There were thousands of people that tried out, so just being chosen for the show was quite an accomplishment, I feel.
There are several reasons why I wanted to be on Survivor. First, I love the outdoors and any activity associated with it. Of course, Survivor provided that. Second, I loved challenges and competition, I even loved preparing for competition through evaluating strategies and planning. I am an ole basketball coach, this is what I did for years. Third, I enjoy being around people and working with people for all kinds of reasons. I like to get things done. Fourth, I am a dreamer and goal setter and I constantly set goals to achieve dreams for myself, family, and school staff when I was a principal.
Finally, I don’t ever want to live a life of regret. You do that when you keep saying “I wish I would have.” When I first saw the show, I knew I could do it and be in the final four. I did not want to say I wish I would have tried for the show. When you keep saying that on any part of your life, you’re not going anywhere or living a great life. But one has to remember that I owe a lot to my family for their support and helping me achieve the dream for being on the show.
Another proud moment for me was during one of the challenges I was picked the one they trusted the most. Another proud moment for me was back when I returned home with some of the positive comments I received from the community on how I played the game.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
The only regret that I can think of was when we were down to the final four, I let my guard down a little bit. You see, after 36 days of a little food and total exhaustion, sometimes your mind starts asking, “why don’t you give up? Take the easy road and head out for some food.” I must say, I started thinking about it, and I feel I let my guard down before I realized that was not my personality or desire to do so. So at that time I think I should’ve tried to get one of the others that was left to go into an alliance with me.
What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
I’m not sure this will blow the fans’ minds away, but when Jeff told us it was 124 degrees, I really don’t believe fans knew how hot it was. And then, of course, there’s the rain. It rained and rained and rained, which caused miserable conditions. And, we really didn’t have any food laying around. So we were just hot wet and hungry every day.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I think it was fair the way the producers showed me most of the game as staying on the outside. This was, of course, one of my strategies, which was to do what I had to do to make it to the final four. I was prepared to be the bossy one, the follower, and, of course, the outside guy looking in. I think throughout the show I did all of those. I just didn’t want to set one way and stick with it.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
There was no culture shock coming back. I just had the mindset that I had to get back to work and start living a normal life. I went back to being a school principal, and, of course, being a family guy. I try to continue in normal life as I possibly could. But make no mistake about it, you still think about the days of being on the show, and sometimes in the evenings or if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’d have to smile and laugh a little bit. It was quite an experience. But I felt it was important that I bring normality back to my life and my family’s.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
I have never regretted going on the show. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’ve always tried to bring some notoriety to our community and its fine people as well as the school and school district I represented. I’ve tried to always bring a positive message to everyone I’ve been in contact with throughout all my engagements around the United States.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
I still communicate with many of the contestants that were on the show. Mathew, Heidi, and Alex have visited me in Olney, Illinois. There were great visits with my friends, community members, and students. There were a lot of positive comments after they left, but the most common was, they were great individuals and great people. I was honored to have them visit my hometown. I still stay in contact with Dan out in California, Dave Johnson, Rob, and, of course, Jenna
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
Yes, I still watch Survivor, and I will always continue to watch the game as I think it’s the best reality show ever. I just feel that I am very lucky to have been a part of it.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
Regarding one player I’d like to play against, I think that my view is a little different. I really do believe everybody that’s played the show did a tremendous job from day one to perhaps day 39. There are so many different personalities and different views and I believe that they would all be fun to play against. I believe the producers do a great job picking the contestants for the show
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
The only change or adaptive item I would change today might be going back to the old-school ways. No immunity idols, very little food, and, of course, continue with tough challenges. I watched today and see where they have tarps and ropes and hammers and nails and have chairs to sit in, and it’s a little more comfortable than what it was when we were on the show. So I say bring back the old school ways.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Would I play again? This is a question that I get asked often. Of course, my answer has always been and always will be yes. I still miss being out there in the Survivor conditions and playing the game. It will always be a part of my life and I, of course, would love to do it again. I appreciate the opportunities that Survivor has given me as well as my family.