Survivor's Anna Khait reveals fan-favorite Tai Trang's strategic mistake
We barely got to know Anna Khait before she was given the boot from Survivor. But Anna says her lack of airtime doesn't mean she wasn't playing a hard, strategic game. In our one-on-one interview with Anna, who is a pro poker player in real life, she explained how Tai's decision to not play his hidden Immunity Idol was a mistake for several people on the Beauty tribe. Plus, she reveals how standing in line for six hours in Atlantic City landed her a spot on the show. Finally, host Jeff Probst has said he believes Anna is the perfect candidate to for another second chance season. See how she reacted to that news.
SheKnows: When it came time for Tribal Council, did you know you were going to be voted out, or was it a surprise?
Anna Khait: It was not a surprise to me at all. Once there was the switch up, I was on a tribe with three Brains, two Beauty and a Brawn. I knew I was in trouble. I automatically went from a tribe where I had the numbers, loyalty and my girls with me to a tribe where I lost numbers. I knew I was in big trouble. Then there was the extra twist that Jeff said Julia will join the tribe that loses a member [after voting somebody off]. I was thinking oh my God, this is what's going to do me in. If we lose, it's me. It's not rocket science to figure out. This is the way Survivor works. When we lost, I knew I had a massive target on my back. I knew going from a place of 50-50 between Tai or myself, the fact that Julia is coming in and they might be afraid of a girl alliance, they're probably gonna come after me. I heard Peter was on the bottom of the Brains, so I tried to do something with that. I also tried to back up Joe and Aubry because they told me they didn't like him. With their physical tells [being a poker player], I could tell they weren't going to vote him out. Aubry wasn't as excited as she would be if she was voting somebody out who wrote her name down. They were smart enough to realize they needed to keep the numbers and save Peter until you don't need him anymore. Use him as a number, then eventually get rid of him.
SK: When exactly did Tai show you he had the hidden Idol?
AK: Right before Tribal, I knew I was going home. It was clear to me there was nothing I could do. I kept trying. Then, a half hour before Tribal, Tai shows me the Idol. I thought, whoa. This is awesome. We can switch up the game. This is gonna be amazing. Scot was like, "I love Survivor. This is awesome." We felt Tai could take the game by the horns and have Julia come in and we'd get the numbers. The numbers really made sense. It seemed like a good time to do it, especially because it was so obvious I was going home. It seemed pretty obvious they weren't going to split the votes because they didn't think we had an Idol. Reading Tai's body language out there, he was going to give it to me. I wasn't 100 percent sure, but I was very confident. What I didn't see was the Scot and Tai conversation that I saw on TV with everyone else. Scot told Tai about 10 minutes before Tribal, "Let's not give it to Anna. Save it." Tai, at the last minute, changed his mind. I was surprised at that. I thought there was a good chance I would stay with the Idol. If there was no Idol I was going home. The only way I would be able to stay was with the Idol. He changed his mind, which I understand. It's a bummer.
SK: Are you bitter that he didn't play his Idol?
AK: No. Not at all. It's a game. I genuinely adore Tai. I told Tai out there, "You're gonna be a fan favorite. You're just so lovable and so cute." But I knew he was dangerous and I knew he was playing the game. It was like keep your friends close and keep your enemies closer. I knew he was sneaky, but I personally liked him. I kept him close, but I didn't trust him.
SK: Let's talk about the numbers a little deeper had Tai given you the Idol and Peter was eliminated instead. With Julia then joining your tribe, the former Beauty members would have suddenly outnumbered the others with three of you against two Brains and one Brawn. This would have given the three of you a clear numbers advantage. With that knowledge, why wouldn't Tai sacrifice his Idol for potential control?
AK: You can ask Tai that question. We knew Julia was coming in. We would've probably gotten rid of Aubry and then Joe. We would have merged and it would've been a fun game to play to duke it out with some of the Brawn people. He could've really helped propel us in the game. At the same time, you don't know if there's gonna be another tribe swap. Survivor is cool in the fact that there's so much strategy, there's luck and the extra element of Jeff throwing in surprises. You don't really know if a merge is coming or another swap is coming. He's done everything in between. It would've definitely been a good spot for Beauty to really take the game in our hands and just dominate it. Unfortunately, he didn't do that. I wonder what he was thinking. You'd have to ask him that, I'm not really sure. We would've had the numbers, and I would have had his back.
SK: Take yourself out of the game for a moment. Acting as a viewer on the outside looking in, do you think Tai made a mistake by not playing his Idol?
AK: On the one hand, it was a mistake. He can take the game into his hands. I'm a loyal person, and I would have had his back as long as I could. It's a little bit early to use an Idol, but at the same time, I do think it's a mistake because once you play an Idol, it goes back into camp. Me, Tai and Julia could have gone out to find it and keep it between us. It's a mistake where Idols come back into play. Survivor will probably hide it again somewhere because that's usually what happens. It would've been just a little easier for us. Specifically talking for his game play, it would've looked great. It would have shown that he's a player. We would've protected him for as long as we could. We would have had the numbers. It was pretty obvious that I was going home. They didn't even split the votes. It's one thing where he'd be taking a risk that maybe they were voting him out, but it was so solidified I was going home. He really could've used it on me to save me. We would have been set for a while. So, in one way I think it was a mistake.
SK: The women on the Beauty tribe haven't really been given much airtime this season. Are you disappointed about that?
AK: I'm not disappointed because there [are] three tribes. There [are] a lot of things that go on in each camp. Unless you go to Tribal, you don't really see much strategy. I actually like my editing, even though I only had a little bit of time. It was because we were winning [challenges]. If we would've lost, America would have gotten to see a lot more strategizing with the girls. We were strategizing from day one. If we would've went to Tribal Council, you would have seen more where me and Julia locked it up between us on day one. It took us to day four where we were close with Michelle. I knew I didn't like Nick right away, but it took us some time not to trust him. I think America would've seen more strategy if we lost. The fact that we didn't lose, I totally understand why they didn't show much of us because you have to show the other tribes. I'm not disappointed, but I guess I kind of wish America would've got to see us strategize and vote. Who I had in mind of going home would have went home. America would've gotten to see my strategies working when I had the numbers. They could have shown me orchestrating some of the stuff.
SK: Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly he believes you would be the perfect candidate to bring back for another second-chance season. What's your response to that?
AK: A fan tweeted at me with Jeff saying that this morning. My heart was racing. I was so excited. I would love to get another chance. This is a game that I love, respect and adore. I feel like I have so much more to give. Being in Tai's spot, I would've probably made that move [to play the hidden Idol]. I love making moves. I was ready to do it. It's just sad I didn't get the chance to do it and show what I could do. Jeff has a bird's-eye view of challenges. I was really good at challenges. We were strong. I was pretty strong. I was good at puzzles. I was doing really well, and I had a lot more to give. I would love to get a second chance.
SK: How did you get on the show?
AK: I actually stood in a six-hour line in Caesars Casino in Atlantic City. I initially sent in a video, and I kind of thought I didn't talk enough. My friend told me about the casting call in Atlantic City. I got in the line and wasn't sure what was gonna happen. I was fortunate enough that they saw interest in me. I still feel very, very fortunate I was able to play the game that I really wanted to play.