Shocked. That’s how Paul Wachter says he felt when his tribe voted him off Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X. During our one-on-one conversation with Paul, he expressed no angry feelings toward any of his fellow castaways, but instead explained how painful it was to watch his blindside play back on national TV. He also dished the dirt on which castaway he thinks should win it all based on their strategic strength and revealed more behind his medical scare that some feared was a heart attack.
SheKnows: Walk us through your elimination. Were you truly blindsided?
Paul Wachter: One hundred percent blindsided. Chris and I, Sunday, Jess, Lucy and Bret had all formed a great alliance. There was no question whatsoever that CeCe was going home. So when I got blindsided, it was a shock, not just for me, but I think you’ll see next week it was a shock to everybody. I think the boys [in the alliance] are gonna be mad.
SK: What was it like watching the episode of yourself getting voted off?
PW: It was painful. It’s kind of weird when you get to see yourself on TV like that and not be a Hollywood guy. Just to see myself on TV is really surreal. When you’re in the game, there’s a lot of moments that go by so quickly. What you think you remember and what really happened are two different things. To watch yourself get voted out, even though I knew it was coming, I still got goose bumps watching and waiting for all the Paul votes. I’m looking at the cards and going, “Son of a bitch!” I was just as pissed last night [watching the show] as I was there. It’s still hard and it still feels terrible.
SK: Ken was gunning for you very quickly. Did you realize how much he was campaigning against you?
PW: No. I didn’t realize he was after me. I knew he was at the bottom and he had to do something. I just didn’t realize he was gonna be going after me. With the big personality like I have, Ken and I never clashed, we just never spoke. The few times we tried to get Ken to get in an alliance collectively, we got together and pulled him aside to talk with him about it. I never really thought the guy wanted to be in the game. But you watch the show and he’s very much in the game. He was doing what he had to do. He chose to side with the girls and it was one of those things where you look at the screen and scream at yourself for not being smarter.
SK: So do you respect his game or are you disappointed with how he quietly came after you?
PW: I would’ve like to seen him join with us, but I totally respect the guy. I think anybody who is willing to do what we have to do to be on the show, which is sacrifice everything at home, you have to have respect for anybody out there doing it. You know people are going to cut your throat because only one person wins. Did he have to do it that early? No. Could Ken have joined the alliance and given us seven people? Yes. He chose not to, and I don’t really know why. If he wins in the end, I’ll know why he did it because he’s smarter than me. I shot myself in the foot with that comment to Jessica. That’s one of those things you look back on and ask, “What the hell was I thinking?”
SK: Is there anybody in particular you hold most responsible for your elimination?
PW: Jessica. One hundred percent.
SK: Do you have any ill will toward her for it?
PW: No. It’s a game. She played a very worried contestant. She was constantly looking at all the different ways that things could change. She was very suspicious about everything that went on. But when her and I talked, we were very comfortable. I felt that I was coming in to tell her she worries too much. I would be that calm voice for her. We were done. We had a six-person alliance locked up and done. My one little comment messed it all up. I guess we’ll see next week how it plays out. To me, she’s the only person that could’ve switched ’em all and I know she did. I wish she hadn’t, but she felt she had to.
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SK: Who is the most powerful person in the Gen-X tribe? Who is running the show?
PW: Oh, boy. That’s a good question. I would say in order would have to be Chris, David and then Bret. Chris is a real sleeper. He’s a sleeping giant. He’s very smart and very calculated. He doesn’t get riled up very easily and he’s great in challenges. Then you have David, who comes across as an underdog, but he’s playing the game very hard. David could never lead it, I don’t think, and I don’t think Chris wants to lead it. The tribe is afraid of leadership.
SK: If you could vote for a winner today, whom would you give the $1 million to?
PW: Chris. He’s not only physically and mentally strong, but I had sat and brainstormed about the game with him. He’s got a great plan and he doesn’t waiver. He has stayed with that plan up until I left. He seemed real calm and collected about it, as if we were reading a book. I think he has it going on. On top of the fact he’s a physical dynamo. He’s incredible when it comes to challenges. Jeff would say, “Go,” and he was already at the end of the challenge. Holy moly, how do you keep up with a guy like this? He was really awesome.
SK: What was his perfect plan?
PW: The plan that we had was to be very calm about it, like a Gen-X would do. We recruited first. Bret and Chris recruited me. That was his plan. Then we brought in the girls. Jessica came first before Sunday and Lucy. We had our six and tried to recruit Ken, but it didn’t work. So we had our six and that was the plan. We were going to take those six to the merge and regroup from there to see how it played out. Almost like the way Mari got voted out with no rhyme or reason, it’s hard to figure out why they came up with me.
SK: You were part of a health scare earlier on this season where you collapsed. There were even some concerns at one point that maybe you had suffered a heart attack. Walk us through that day and explain what we didn’t really get to see.
PW: You didn’t get to see was that it took a little while. I was feeling very weak. We had been through some extreme weather and challenges. Obviously, everything about Survivor is extreme, but I sweat a lot. Cutting coconuts and chopping bamboo, I had kind of run myself out. I began to feel really dizzy and I sat down for a while in the shelter. I told everybody I wasn’t feeling very well and needed to sit down for a minute. It was really hot where the shelter was, so I got up to walk over by the ocean for a little breeze. I sat down and I laid back, and that was it, man. The world started spinning and it was on. I started getting really bad cramps. It was one of those surreal experiences for a guy who’s always in control to lose control like that.
The next thing I knew, Dr. Joe was in front of me. Thanks to Jeff Probst and the CBS medical team. They were there immediately. Once I saw him sitting in front of me I was scared to death and I was happy. I knew I was in front of a doctor who could figure out what the hell was going on. The other side of it, the last time I saw that on TV, they took the guy to the hospital and he was out of the game. It was a surreal experience and I’m really glad they didn’t rush to judgment. They’ve been doing this a long time and they saw the signs and knew enough to check my heart just to make sure. It was a scary experience for me, but once I got rehydrated, I took most of the rest of the day to take it easy. I got as much liquid into me as I could. Once I did that, I actually slept for four hours that night. I felt great. I woke up the next day and we won the challenge. It was great.
SK: How did you get on the show?
PW: I was recruited. I had shot like a sizzle reel where there were going to be some treasure-hunting shows down here [in Florida] and one of the people on it with me went to work for CBS. She knew I had talked about Survivor all the time. I got a phone call from her asking if I was still interested in going on the show. I started with the process and that was it.
SK: Were you a fan of the show before you were selected to compete?
PW: I’ve always been a fan of the show. I’ve watched every episode. Since day one, I’ve always watched Survivor… All I talked about when they were trying to shoot their little treasure show was how cool Survivor is. This was, like, seven or eight years ago. Then she went to work for Survivor and she asked if I was still doing my thing and staying in shape. That was it. We were off to the races.