Survivor's Kyle Jason argues he was a threat to win, not a bully
Kyle Jason quickly became one of the most-hated villains Survivor has seen in a long time. Social media labeled him as a bully. Some of his fellow castaways claim his attitude is way worse in person than on TV. But in our one-on-one conversation with Jason, he explains why he's happy with his story, reveals how viewers are wrong to call him a bully and argues that he was a real threat to win despite many thinking he would have been an easy-to-beat goat. Plus, he reacts to the inflammatory statements Alecia Holden made about him after she was voted off. And why does he go by his last name only? All that and much more in this very in-depth interview.
SheKnows: Did you have any idea your fate was sealed at that Tribal Council? Did you know you were getting voted off?
Kyle Jason: 100 percent. I knew I was going home. I knew where the numbers fell. I knew what Tai was trying to pull off, and was unable to pull off. I knew he didn't have the right amount of votes. I knew the girls were staying strong with each other. They had their plan and refused to take orders from anybody. I knew I was pretty screwed.
SK: Tai seemed pretty confident his plan was going to work because he used his double-vote advantage against Michele. Being on the outside, how did you know Tai's plan wasn't going to work when he didn't realize it himself?
KJ: I paid attention to what was going on around camp. You see the girls talking with each other. You saw constant communication with Michele and Aubry. You always knew Joe was gonna fall in line where he was told. It was very clear Tai was trying to run something that wasn't working. Any time he tried to talk with Aubry and Cydney, it instantly got ran back and told to Michele. It was very clear he didn't have it. The more they talked, and the more they talked at Tribal, I knew the girls were staying together. Did it put Aubry in a tough spot? It did, and we'll see how that plays out. I knew Tai's numbers weren't working. I think he relied too much on that extra vote, thinking it was gonna do something it wasn't. No matter if I voted for Michele or not, I was going home. So I'm gonna vote my own way [against Joe].
SK: Would you say Tai is a bad player?
KJ: I think Tai is letting paranoia get to him too much. I don't think he's a bad player. I think if he's able to keep a level head he could play a good game, a very good game. I'm worried for him now. His paranoia, and his lack of trust for anybody, is, I believe, putting him in a rough spot. I will be very curious to see how that plays out for him. Either he's going to be able to turn that into an advantage for himself, or he's going to start a whirlwind spiral and be sitting right next to me [on the jury].
SK: A lot of viewers have been saying you would be an easy person to beat at the final Tribal Council. Did you think you really could have won the game?
KJ: Of course I believe I could've won the game. I look at the jury right now, and I say that I pull votes. You can take that any way you want because we all know nobody has done one of these interviews and said, "I could not win." I do believe I could win. I look at that jury and I say I pull votes. I pull more votes than just Scot. I do believe I could beat anybody up there. Only time would tell that, and there's no way to prove that at this point. I got voted out for a reason. I didn't get voted out because I was so easy to beat. I got voted out because I was a threat. If I was as easy to beat as they like to say, why wouldn't I be there?
SK: What was your ideal plan for the final Tribal Council? Who did you want to go to the end with?
KJ: Scot. Always. I would've stayed true to my alliance, but he went out. When you get in the situation that I was in, it doesn't become who do I want to be in the finals with, it turns very quickly into I just gotta get to the finals and I'll figure it out from there. When your back is against the wall like Tai, certain luxuries of being able to pick out who you want to be in the end with go on the back burner. I wasn't at that point anymore.
SK: Your time on the show was heavily saturated in negativity. The show really focused on some of the actions you made that viewers didn't necessarily respect or appreciate. Many have labeled you as a bully. What is your reaction to the way viewers have responded to your character? Do you think you're a bully?
KJ: First off, I don't think the show focused all their energy on me being a bully. I think the show told a great story of me. It showed all sides of me. They showed my harshness, my very brash side, the non-sugar-coating side and the softer side of me as well. As much as people want to label me whatever you want, and that's on them, the show was very fair to me. Very fair. I like how they showed me. You can label me what you want. It's easy. It's easy for people to label me a bully. Look at me. Now, do I think I am one? Of course not. I'm a good person. I'm a great father. I'm a wonderful husband. I said going into the show I was gonna treat it like my job. You've got to think of what my job has been. I deal with the worst of the worst. I work in conditions and go to places that you could only imagine in your wildest nightmares. That's how I make my living. I willingly do that so others don't have to. I put that burden on myself. Just because I tell it like it is [and] I'm not gonna hug you to make you feel better doesn't make me a bully. You can say all day long, "I tried my best and you have to respect that." I don't have to respect that. I come from a world where your best can still get you killed. I've seen it happen. I didn't treat anybody any different. If we didn't get along, we just didn't get along. Not everything was shown, but I do not feel I was shown as a bully. I was shown as me.
SK: In all the years I've conducted these Survivor interviews, one of the most inflammatory responses I've ever received came from Alecia. Her comments were directed toward you. She said, "I 100 percent think the negativity toward Jason is deserved. He has no respect in the way that he speaks to women and girls. It's just a terrible example, especially having two young daughters who have to grow up and see the way their dad acted. That is not a role model whatsoever." What is your response to what she said?
KJ: I think it was low for her to bring my children into it, for one. Two, I never ever said a single negative comment about her outside this show. Never on social media have I made a mean tweet about her. Never in an interview have I put her down. I've done nothing but give her credit for at least being there. For her to bring my children into a conversation, that's low. I deserve an apology from her for that, not the other way around. I wish her the best. I hope one day she's able to open her eyes and see reality. I believe she will. She has every opportunity in front of her. She's still young. We all acted in a very immature way at one point when we were young. I know I did. I was not always in the place that I am now. I was a young, dumb kid when I first joined the army. I got in my share of trouble, but I was able to grow up. I have every bit of confidence that she will have her time to grow up as well.
SK: The relationship you had with Scot was very tight. Did you happen to know of his NBA status before he told you?
KJ: It's funny. I love the NBA, and I love me some Celtics, but I did not know who Scot was. It had nothing to do with his stardom, popularity or what he did for a job. We looked at each other, decided we could work with each other, and the rest just kinda happened. We make a great team. The wonder twins will live on forever.
SK: He returned your Idol to you after both of you were voted out. Where is that Idol today?
KJ: Currently, at this moment, it's around my daughter's neck. She wore it to school today. Since she saw that Scot walked out with my Idol, she's been begging to wear it. I was able to surprise her this morning and say, "Guess what you get to wear to school?" She's very excited, and she's wearing it right now.
SK: You go by Jason, but you're actual first name is Kyle. Do you ever go by Kyle?
KJ: Very few people in the world call me Kyle. My wife, my mom, my brother and my aunt [are] pretty much it. Jason is from years in the military, man. In the army, you're only called by your last name. In contracting you're called by a nickname that's assigned to you. Jason kind of stuck. It's written on your uniform, and that's what people call you. For the last 13 or 14 years I've been Jason.
SK: How does somebody like you, a bounty hunter, find himself on Survivor?
KJ: You have to live a life that anyone would look at and go, "There's no way this is real." I had never applied for the show before. This was my very first time. I went to an open casting call. I walked in there and they said, "Sixty seconds. Go!" I just said who I was and what I would do on the show. I walked out, called my wife and said, "Nobody on earth is going to see this video. This is not at all viewed in any way, shape or form." I was so wrong. It took a while, but eight months later, roughly, they called and said, "Tell us about yourself. We are so intrigued [by] you. We want to know everything." Roughly two days later, I was in LA. It was the start of this very long, very amazing journey. It can happen. I've been watching 15 years and the first time I applied, boom, I'm on. Then there [are] other people like Debbie who have been so committed to their love for this show. She tried and tried and tried, and then all of a sudden it's her turn to be on. No one is out of the running for this show. It can happen, and I applied at the right time. The right person saw my video for what they were looking for.