Survivor One World said goodbye to its head rooster Matt Quinlan this week and the contestant sat down for a conference call to talk about his time on the island and what went wrong with his game.
Question: What did you think of your portrayal on the show because a lot of people thought you were arrogant?
Matt Quinlan: I think I was portrayed like that and that was somewhat disappointing to me. There certainly were times where I was brash and cocky, and that’s the game that brought that out in me. That’s just kind of the competitive nature of being in this situation. That’s what came out. But there’s also lots of times, of course, that I was being humble, and friendly, and laughing and enjoyable with everybody. I don’t think America got to see that. I ended up being a character who was either loved or hated. I got a lot of that. There’s really no in-between ground in terms of how people viewed me. People either loved it or hated it. That’s fine. I’m OK with that. I think that’s a lot better than being invisible or “who is Matt again?” I certainly don’t want to be there, but I do want people to know that I’m not a jerk. You don’t have to hear it from me, just ask any of my tribemates down the road and I feel confident that they would agree. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but to some extent I feel the need to defend myself because I’m not a jerk. Do I have an edge? Yeah. Are there times I would get loud and cocky? Yeah, there are, but that’s not all the time. That’s not what makes me.
Q: Do you think your tribe underestimated your ability in some of the mental challenges?
Matt: I do. From first looking at me I think they thought I was a physical threat. I was one of the bigger guys, I was in shape or whatever. We got to know each other and we were all friends out there. We’d all sit around the campfire at night and laugh, and tell stories, and play grab ass and all the stuff that guys do out there. They did have a pretty good feel for who I was, so I think they knew I was a bright guy. That didn’t help matters. That didn’t make anything better. Maybe if I weren’t bright or they perceived me not to be bright, they wouldn’t have been threatened. But I just think, all things considered, they decided that I was the biggest threat to them whether it be physically or mentally. I’m not saying I was smarter than all them, but it was a good combination of physical and mental prowess. I think that they saw that because it’s hard to hide who you are when you’re spending every hour with people.
Q: What do you think made them perceive you as an alpha male when there were other “muscle” men on Manono?
Matt: I am an alpha male and I know that about myself. I think that was pretty easy to see. I wasn’t the only alpha male. I think Colton was an alpha male and I think Troy was an alpha male. I think Mike might have been. But I was that and it was really hard for me to try to suppress that. I think they saw that and thought that right away. I just feel that the guys that were in the other alliance looked at everybody around and just determined that I was the biggest threat to them, whether that be physically, mentally, advantage with the women — all the stuff that goes into a Survivor evaluation of trying to figure out who it is that poses the biggest risk or threat. That was me. I don’t think I was the only choice, but obviously I was the primary choice. That put me in a spot that I was really scrambling from the very beginning just trying to do whatever I could to avoid that fate.
Q: Where do you think the men’s team has gone wrong so far?
Matt: From a personal standpoint, I think that for whatever reason they became intent on trying to vote out who they viewed to be the biggest threat in the game. That was the goal and seemed to be the determination of the group that’s been labeled the misfits since day one. They really wouldn’t get off of that. It was always very high on their priorities to get rid of me or Mike. They went wrong by becoming so obsessed with that goal that they failed to see that Colton was really the one who was the most dangerous; who was probably, in my eyes, the least trustworthy at the time, who had the most power at the time. It seemed as though Tarzan felt that Colton’s good fortune and good position was gonna be his, which is crazy. For whatever reason I think they just got blinded and had their head blinders on and were hunting me down as opposed to really looking around and trying to determine who posed the biggest threat. In my mind, I think it was very obvious to be Colton.
Q: Why didn’t you guys figure out a strategy to get Colton out of there?
Matt: I tried as hard as I could to try to pitch that to the guys. For whatever reason, people seemed to be pretty intent on trying to get rid of me and take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of the person they viewed as the alpha male since the beginning. To me, Colton was obviously the biggest threat there. He had the Immunity Idol, he had the relationships with the girls, he seemed to have decent relationships within our tribe whether it be within the group that’s called the muscle or the group that’s called the misfits. People should have wised up and realized that even though he’s not a big, strapping guy, he was every bit as dangerous as I was — if not more so. I was definitely trying to sell that to the guys. That was kind of my last stand to try to rally a group to get rid of Colton, to open their eyes and get him to at least use the Idol or have him go home with the Idol. I was big on using Tribal Council efficiently if we could. I wanted to do two things at Tribal that night: Flush that Idol and vote out Bill or make Colton go home with his Idol. I think I made a pretty sound argument to the guys in terms of what we should do and how we could accomplish as much as possible at Tribal. … I thought I was able to sell it, but obviously they didn’t see it that way.
Q: What are you going to remember most about this experience?
Matt: I’m gonna remember two things about it. One, how awesome it was, and how real it was, and how iconic it was and how thankful I am to be a part of it. But I’m also going to remember how disappointing it was for me, personally, to go down the way it did. I certainly didn’t anticipate that, it was just incredibly disappointing. There’s this bittersweet memory of this wonderful thing, this unbelievable opportunity, that just didn’t go like I had hoped.