Who did he believe was ill-prepared for the game? Who was the biggest threat in his eyes? What was the deal with his much-talked about underwear? Vytas dishes all the details in our one-on-one interview.
SheKnows: Did you know you were going to be voted off Survivor: Second Chance first?
Vytas Baskauskas: I did. After the challenge, we went straight to Tribal. We didn’t get that few hours of going back to the beach and getting a sense of what’s happening. My name was getting thrown out a bunch. Once my name was getting thrown out, my whole strategy, dude, was to lay low. I wanted to go to that beach and lay low. I knew I was a threat and figured I would be targeted at the merge. I wanted to lay low and cultivate some goodwill around camp, but my name got thrown out within 30 minutes of being out there. It was tough to come back from that. I knew my name would be written down at least a few times at Tribal. I was hoping I could rally enough people around Abi because nobody really liked her around camp. Some said they didn’t like her, but I knew that some people were still gonna write my name down because I was a threat and Abi wasn’t. I had hopes that I could have had some people rally against her, but unfortunately, it didn’t go my way. I wasn’t shocked. I was disappointed, for sure. But that’s how it is.
SK: When you walked out of the game, you said there were no hard feelings. Do you still feel that way or did watching the episode change anything?
VB: No hard feelings. People said a few things that weren’t that kind about me on TV. That’s unfortunate, but I signed up for it. Survivor is a cutthroat game. I’m sure I said things that didn’t make the air about other people. I can’t hold it against people. We’re not perfect, that’s for sure.
SK: Had you known that your torch was going to be the first snuffed, would you still have wanted to participate in the experience?
VB: Nope. I hold true to that to this moment. Even second, maybe, I still might not have gone out [to compete]. If you had told me I was out first or second for sure, then no, I wouldn’t have gone. It’s a lot, man. It takes two months out of our lives. Even when we get voted out, we can’t come home. I had a newborn son that was waiting for me at home. I had my career that I had taken time off of. It’s tough to be out there just waiting for everybody else to get voted out and waiting for the game to finish. Yeah, I love Survivor. I’m super grateful I got the opportunity. The only person’s fault that I got voted out is mine, so that’s on my shoulders. But, yeah, it’s a bummer. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done things differently. If I knew it was gonna be my fate no matter what, then I would have rather not gone.
SK: That said, would you play again?
VB: I love Survivor. It’s tough to say. When I came out of the game immediately, I said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m never playing this game again.” I was bummed, man. I was really disappointed. But I’ve had a couple months to sit back and realize maybe there were some things I could have done differently. I’m still such a huge fan. When I watched the intro before the stuff started happening with people calling me smarmy, I was getting chills. I was like, “I’m on Survivor again! It’s so cool! Wow!” I love it and it would be hard for me to say no if they asked me one more time.
SK: Your brother won Season 12 and then competed with you in Season 27. You’ve always had a competitive nature between each other, so what was his reaction when he learned you were the first eliminated?
VB: Oh, man. He was really disappointed for me. He knows how much Survivor means to me. Survivor means a lot for him. I think, in a sense, he feels a little bit of personal responsibility that he was the one that helped get me on the show the first time with Blood Vs. Water. He was invested in me wanting me to do well. He was really rooting for me. When I came home and told him, he was really sweet. He was really kind to me. He took me in and gave me a big hug. But, yeah, he was sad, too. We were both pretty disappointed that it worked out the way it did.
SK: Take us back to last May. How confident were you that the fans had voted you back into the game?
VB: I was pretty confident. I was from a recent season. My name is memorable. Especially with the guys’ pool being whittled down to 15 from 16 once Mike had won, I was pretty confident. I wasn’t really worried that I was getting on.
SK: Shirin didn’t have the nicest things to say about you. What’s your take on her?
VB: I don’t think Shirin’s a mean-spirited person. I think that Shirin got treated poorly by some of the men that were in power positions the first time she played. I don’t know too much about her personal life, but I remember she talked about her family trauma and I think she has some stuff with male authority figures in general. That being said, she came to the beach wanting to figure out which guy has the most power on my beach and let’s try to get that guy off. For Shirin, I was the person with the most power on the beach. She wanted to make sure that she could cut me down. She did that not only by rallying people around to get me out, but in her side interviews to cut me down as much as she could. I think that’s her own trauma. I try not to take that stuff personally. Am I disappointed she did that? Of course! I think it sucks, but everybody has got to vote for somebody, and it was her game plan to get me out.
SK: When you went into the game, who did you think was the overall most ill-prepared person?
VB: It’s tough. Some people I didn’t get to meet. I have no idea when rubber meets the road if I’m right or wrong. But I looked at Kimmi and thought, all right, she hadn’t played in 15 years. I was wondering if she was ready to play this game. In our tribe, a guy like Jeff Varner, who is so excited to be back, he wanted to play the right game. I saw the struggle that was going on inside of him. He really didn’t know what his best path was. He ultimately chose a path that was against our alliance. I’m bummed that he did it, but he did what’s best for him. I think, mentally, I’m not sure that he still knows what his best path is for the game. That being said, we’ve all played before. I think everyone was pretty much prepared for what to expect out there.
SK: On the flip side, who did you view as the biggest threat?
VB: It’s tough to say that there’s one big threat. People are heroes. People are villains. People are strategic. People aren’t strategic. In Survivor, every liability becomes an asset. Every asset becomes a liability… So much of it is circumstantial. Yeah, there [are] huge threats out there. I was a big threat. I was probably the most villainous guy out there. Physically, Joe is a huge threat. Jeremy is a big threat. You look at some of the women and what they’ve done in their games and how strong they are. There [are] a lot of big threats out there. Then there [are] a lot of people that want to be a threat. I knew going in that people that didn’t get a lot of time their first season around were the ones that would be playing as hard as they could. Look at Kelley Wentworth. She didn’t do much her first season, and I think she’s a huge threat this season. She wants to make a name for herself.
SK: What was the biggest difference you noticed between Second Chance and Blood Vs. Water right out of the gate?
VB: I think people are just ready to play. First time around, it took a while for strategies to start happening. But this time, strategy was happening before the game even started with body language and gestures. As soon as the game started, strategy was being discussed on the raft as we were paddling to the rice. It was happening from moment one.
SK: I’ve covered Survivor for years now. I’ve been to 18 finales now, but something was very different about the social media reaction to the Second Chance premiere. There was so much talk on Twitter about you and Joe in your underwear. What was it like for you having that kind of attention from viewers?
VB: My Twitter was going crazy with underwear talk. I’ve never worn underwear like that ever in my life. Production told me to get a funky pair of underwear, get a crazy pair of undies. Little did I know that I was either gonna have sweatpants or underwear. Usually we get a pair of swim trunks early on in the game, but we didn’t get them. So it was 100 degrees and I had to choose between these heavy sweatpants or the crazy pair of underwear. I was like, all right, let’s embrace it. I didn’t really know [laughs] that they were gonna be that big of a hit — or a miss, some people said.
SK: And you even got voted out in them.
VB: Yeah. I did. We left straight from the challenge right to Tribal Council. You come from what I remember in Survivor, usually you go to a challenge and then back to the beach. When you get back to the beach, you get an opportunity to get all your stuff. You get to grab your bag, your clothes and everything together to take in case you’re gonna get voted out. We didn’t get that opportunity. So I left all my stuff on the beach.
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