Jeff Probst said Bret LaBelle’s coming-out conversation with Zeke Smith was his favorite moment of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. When we talked with Bret one-on-one at the finale, the Boston police sergeant, who finished in fifth place, said it was flattering to be considered such an important part of this season and explained why he opted to only tell Zeke his secret. He also discussed what his strategy was to win the game and revealed why Adam deserved to be crowned sole Survivor.
SheKnows: Tell us about how your game evolved, because we didn’t get to see much of your personality early in the competition.
Bret LaBelle: I come from a world where we don’t talk to cameras. I think it maybe took me a little bit to try and get comfortable in my own skin, but my strategy never changed. I believe that in order to win this game, you have to have a really good social strategy. That’s what I’m good at. I’m very good at talking to people. People just seem to really enjoy me. I knew that was my strong point. I knew that’s what would get me far in the game. That’s what I did.
SK: Who did you want to go to the end of the game with?
BL: I wanted to go with Ken and Hannah. I find it fascinating she kept saying I wasn’t going to take her to the end. Why wouldn’t I take her to the end? It would have won me $1 million.
SK: As soon as you saw who made it to the final three, how quickly did you decide to give your vote to Adam?
BL: Adam and I, after the merge, had a little side alliance. He was keeping an ear to the grindstone for my name, and I was keeping an ear to the grindstone for his name because we were kind of on different sides of the court. After a couple of votes, my name didn’t come up. His stock went up, and I’m sure my stock went up for him. We just kept that little secret thing going. He’s a great kid. I didn’t know his story [about his mom’s cancer diagnosis], but I had a lot of trust in him throughout the second half of the game. Hearing his story, I just can’t even imagine how anyone could be out there with the stress we were under. It tore at my heart strings, and I don’t know how he did it. I can’t believe he did. He deserves the $1 million.
SK: You were very vocal about Hannah being a flipper. Tell us about your relationship with her.
BL: Hannah is a great person. It’s stressful out there, but Hannah was playing a different game than I was. She was jumping back and forth. You’d see her talking. She would come up and want to talk strategy with you, then you look over and see her talking strategy with somebody else. She didn’t have a poker face because she looked like a deer in headlights. We all knew what was happening — not because they weren’t good players or good people, but you could see the jury wasn’t too happy with certain people. They might have been playing hard or playing their game, but you knew who the people on the jury was gonna vote for. Even though she was dangerous, she was somebody you wanted to take to the end if you wanted to win.
SK: If David made it to the final vote, do you think he would’ve beat Adam?
BL: I did not know about Adam’s story, but I think David would beat everybody if he got to the end.
SK: So, did Adam’s story influence your vote?
BL: No. With the three that were there, he had my vote. I still say David probably wins it, but I think Adam would’ve given him a good run for his money.
SK: Jeff Probst said you were part of his favorite moment this season when you came out of the closet to Zeke. What’s that feel like to hear Jeff say that?
BL: It’s absolutely flattering because I’ve been a fan of this game since the beginning. To hear Jeff Probst, a guy who I’ve been watching since I was 24, such a great guy and wonderful person, come out to say that was his favorite moment is absolutely flattering. It’s amazing. I’m shocked and glad I could be a part of it. To be part of such a great moment of a show I’ve loved for so long is just really cool.
SK: Going into the game, did you plan on revealing your secret to anybody?
BL: I’ve been slowly coming out over the years to close family and friends. Did I ever go on a pedestal on a beach in front of 10 million people and say I was gay? Well, it was a beautiful beach, so why not? I knew it was time in my life. It came up because Zeke and I were just jiving. I knew we had a lot in common. I’m not sure he knew it, but I knew it. I knew it was the right thing to do. We were bonding for many different reasons. I just wanted to say, “Bud, I’ve been through the same thing you went through.” I think it was very moving and really cool. It was very real. It was just a real moment with just two guys having beers talking about life.
SK: Twitter went crazy when that moment happened. Did you get a lot of feedback?
BL: I heard from a lot of different people. I heard from kids in high school who said, “Oh my God. I was shocked. I don’t know what to do because I’m in the same boat.” I heard people my age saying, “Oh my God. I still haven’t told my family. You’re me. I’m so happy for you.” It’s been really moving and cool. It’s really neat. I’m not out there waving a gay flag, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m just not that guy. It’s just really cool that I could’ve helped people see a different side of it.
SK: How did you get on the show?
BL: I went to an open audition. I had gone to like four or five open auditions. I sent in one tape, but I knew the tape wasn’t the way to go. I knew they had to see me in person. We talked about it a lot because there’s not a lot to talk about on the island. Some said they sent in a tape, but I told them all I went to an open audition and every head snapped, like, “What?! Those work?!” I was like, “Hey, it worked for me.”
Do you think the moment between Bret and Zeke was the best of this season? Join the conversation by leaving a comment in the section below.
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