By Dalton Ross
September 23, 2020 at 12:15 PM EDT
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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.

Albert Destrade has a lot to be proud of. He made it all the way to day 39 of Survivor: South Pacific. Not only that, but the coach of both baseball and dating won an individual immunity along the way, and pulled off the seemingly impossible by actually convincing someone not named Erik Reichenbach to give up his individual immunity, getting a necklace form Brandon Hantz… who, like Erik, was then promptly voted out of the game.

However, even with all those accomplishments, Albert did not always get the benefit of the doubt on screen. And even though he was never voted out by his peers, for Albert, watching the season play back was not a joyous experience. “When the show originally aired, I was pretty sad and disappointed,” says Albert. “Week to week, I felt mortified, confused, and even a little short-changed. There is so much that I actually did in the pre-merge portion of the game where I knew I was effectively crushing it. Essentially, none of it made air.”

But while Albert blamed production at first, he realized later the blame should be placed at his own doorstep. “I was a broke 26-year-old kid on the greatest reality show ever, who actually short-changed them on my true charisma, personality, and entertainment value,” Albert says. “My edit only sucked because I did. If I played out there as the person I truly am, things would have had no choice but turn out differently. It’s amazing the things you can learn in life when you stop blaming others and start owning your actions.”

Not only does Albert now own his actions, but he completely owned this Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire as well.

Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.

ALBERT DESTRADE: Well, after my time on South Pacific, I continued coaching baseball for a couple of years until I decided to step away from coaching and to pursue playing poker. Poker’s been a fun journey that started as a hobby, grew into a passion, morphed into a profession, and now ultimately is something I do for just fun with a great group of friends in the south Florida casino private game scene.

I was very blessed to make some fortunate investments in the cryptocurrency market and I started a business with my family, so no complaints on that front. Also, for the fans wondering, I haven’t worked in the Dating Coach space in quite a while and I’m recently single, so I’m currently fielding applications for the position of future wife.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

I think the feeling waking up in the morning of day 39 and processing the fact that I had made the final 3 on Survivor is a sheer sense of accomplishment like almost nothing else. I’d say it was akin to the feeling a kid has on Christmas morning when they’ve patiently waited for the day to finally come.

Overall, in life, I’m not a very big stop to smell the roses type of person. It’s very rare for me to be able to stop and exhale and just say, “Wow, I made it.” That day and that moment was such a surreal emotion. I felt like I took a 39-day journey to climb Mount Everest, and despite barely making it alive, I had in fact, made it.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?

You know I think despite being asked some version of this question so many times over the years, it wasn’t until recently that my own understanding of the real answer came to light. My biggest regret is not being a fully 100 percent authentic version of myself.

I think when you first set out to play Survivor, it’s such an intensely deep game of full social, psychological, and strategic immersion that it’s easy for someone like myself to just put the guard up, stay in “game mode” 24/7 and basically play a character.

I knew every Tribal question answered, every in-camp conversation shared, every strategic avenue considered had so many major ramifications, I became robotically calculated. I wasn’t me. I didn’t allow myself to let my hair down and have fun.

In real life, I’m literally a never-ending jokester. I tell funny stories. I’m easy going. Even at poker, my biggest strength is that I’m not a stoic robot at the table. I’m a whirling dervish, showing cards, cracking one-liners and making things fun. So regardless of wins or losses, people actually want to play poker with me.

My biggest regret is that I was so young, and the money meant so much to me at the time that I didn’t allow myself to relax, have fun, and be myself. The biggest irony is if I would’ve played like the truest genuine version of me, I probably would’ve come home a lot richer, but hey, you live and learn. Ultimately Survivor is a game, and games are supposed to be fun.

What’s something that will blow fans’ minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?

Disclaimer: When it comes to talking about my final Tribal Council, it’s kind a like talking to Bill Buckner about happened in the World Series against the Mets. My memory has deleted a lot of details and the mere act of recalling certain aspects makes a little bit of actual nausea start to surface.

That said, I’m pretty sure right before the jurors went in for the votes, Jeff Probst told us he was going to give the final 3 one last chance to plead our case to the jury in a way that hadn’t been done in many, many seasons.

From my personal vantage point, I had read the room and knew the writing on the wall spelled likely doom for me. I was frazzled. I think my last words were basically a not so direct apology to the jury. I was a mess.

If any single gals are still reading this; maybe skip the rewatch of my final Tribal, unless you’re into the whole floundering dork thing.

How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?

I’ll be honest, Dalton. When the show originally aired, I was pretty sad and disappointed. Week to week, I felt mortified, confused, and even a little short-changed. There is so much that I actually did in the pre-merge portion of the game where I knew I was effectively crushing it. Essentially, none of it made air.

Looking back, I think I mistakenly had the perception that Probst and production just “didn’t like me.” That I probably just got a “bad edit,” because I came in 3rd with no votes, so it made sense to scrub away all the things I actually did in the game.

Again, this is one of those things that I think comes with time, maturity, and perspective. At the end of the day, Jeff Probst and Co. are all-time great show runners, producers and visionaries. And I was a broke 26-year-old kid on the greatest reality show ever, who actually short-changed them on my true charisma, personality, and entertainment value.

My edit only sucked because I did. If I played out there as the person I truly am, things would have had no choice but turn out differently. It’s amazing the things you can learn in life when you stop blaming others and start owning your actions.  I’m very thankful for Survivor because it helped me grow as person in so many ways, and strangely, it continues being the gift that keeps on giving.

What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

I think the first couple months back were certainly an adjustment period. The toll the game takes on your body and mind is something very few truly will ever know. The first major lesson the game taught me after the fact was appreciation. Appreciation for food, home, resources, loved ones, the little things. Things we all take for granted.

I think we’ve all been dealt this life lesson in one way or another throughout this pandemic as we realize how many perks of life we didn’t even realize we were lucky to have. In the years following, I think the game taught me more and more. Only it was more slow and subtle.

I think Survivor can have a tendency to make some former players tougher, more callous, and more skeptical of the world. For me, it opened me up. It let me drop the curtain and be more blunt and genuine. The whole Survivor experience is a mindset makeover that actually continues working over time. It’s pretty wild to say the least.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?

No never once. Even the pits of the worst “bad edit” woes. Not one time.

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?

Well, Mikayla Wingle and I both live in Florida, so she and I have definitely spent the most time and spoken the most. Miki is my girl, and she’s an unbelievably badass chick.

Otherwise, I stay in contact with Coach somewhat regularly despite living on polar opposite sides of the country. Guy’s a true legend. Things like the World Series of Poker helped me reconnect with Jim Rice, and the recent Winners at War season helped rekindle my old bond with my former partner in crime Sophie.

Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?

Yes, I love the game and the show. I think my favorite season is toss-up between Cambodia — Second Chance and Millennials vs Gen X. Second Chance for its transcendent gameplay (voting blocs, etc) and just for how hard I think everyone on that season was playing start to finish. Millennials vs Gen X because it had the perfect recipe for an elite season. It had great characters, a la Tocantins, funny endearing players, a la David vs. Goliath, razor sharp power players, a la Heroes vs. Villains, and shocking plays and vote outs, a la Micronesia/Cagayan.

Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?

I would’ve loved to play Angelina from David vs. Goliath, because watching her reminded me of the way I played my first season. In many ways, she’s like the female counterpart to the kind of slightly askew style I tried playing; cringy mistakes and all.

If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?

I think sequestering the jurors after they get voted out would be the move. If we made it where they can’t compare notes and talk about the game once they are out it would lead to more true outcomes. I’d like to see a finale where the winners are graded solely on what happened in the game, not outside of it.

Honorable Mention: Fire at Final 4. Goodbye!

Finally, would you play again if asked?

How soon do they need me there? I can drop my stack and be fully packed in under an hour.

To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub, and follow Dalton on Twitter.

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