Survivor's Alan Ball Talks About His Detrimental Feud With Joe Mena
Alan Ball will go down in reality TV history because of the moment a grown man got naked for him on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. J.P. dropped trou early in the game to prove to an adamant Alan that he didn't have an Immunity Idol. In our interview with Alan, though, he admits to still being suspicious to this day that J.P. had something to hide. During our conversation, Alan also revealed which player is the most underestimated and explained his feelings toward Joe's "annoying" behavior. Plus, he discussed the current political climate surrounding the NFL and offered his thoughts on the national anthem protests.
SheKnows: Your elimination was definitely a blindside, but walk us through what was going through your mind when it all played out.
Alan Ball: When Joe pulled out the Idol, I knew I was going home. I got my initial shock when Devon read his advantage, or disadvantage, depending on what you want to call it. After he got done reading it, I thought my fate might be up in the air. Things were just going a little too strange. You know how something is so weird and awkward you know something's not right? I got the idea I might be going home, and when [Joe] got up with the Idol, it was like, OK, I am going home. We didn't have to read the votes because I knew they were for me. I knew Joe thought I was a huge threat to him. I knew I didn't like him and he didn't like me.
SK: It seemed you handled your elimination with grace, almost as if you respected their move to take you out of the game.
AB: When you feel like you put your best foot forward and do everything you can when the situation isn't going in your favor, there's no one to really be mad at. I don't think there's anything I would've done differently. I couldn't stand Joe. One of us had to go. I knew in that tribe, if it wasn't him it was gonna be me. I put my all into this game and had a lot more left in the tank, but I have no regrets. I learned that playing football. If you have a good game, put your all out there. If you lose, you can correct what you did. Just know you put it all out there. It didn't go my way, an Idol got played and an advantage was read. That's a lot in one Tribal. I was fine with saying, "OK. This is how they had to get me out." I'm content with that.
SK: What was it about Joe you didn't like?
AB: He was just annoying. Some people just talk too much. Between lies and contradictions, you start to get annoying. I think he was just annoying. It was his way to play the game, or maybe he's really annoying in real life. I don't know. I was annoyed, and I knew in that camp we couldn't go on much longer together.
SK: Do you have any hard feelings toward him now?
AB: No. I don't know if he's that annoying in real life. I don't have much to say to him, but I don't have any hard feelings toward him. Maybe he's a great guy in real life, or maybe he's that annoying. I probably won't find out. I left what was on the show on the show.
SK: Early this season, we saw you grow very suspicious about J.P. possibly having an Idol. Your concerns were so intense that J.P. actually stripped naked to prove he had nothing to hide. That being said, did you have the same fears that Joe had an Idol?
AB: We discussed it. I even said in the water, "If they have an Idol, I'm going home." But we were so far down the road with Joe having to go, that when we got to Tribal we were more stressing the fact he had to go home. You have to give Joe some credit because he caused enough chaos that I overlooked the fact he might have an Idol to get rid of me. That's pretty strong about how I felt about him [laughs.] Looking back, we definitely talked about it, but we overlooked it because he was that much of a problem.
SK: Going back to the strip search with J.P., did you genuinely believe he and Ashley had an Idol? Or was it something you were doing to be intimidating?
AB: [Laughs.] I believed they had something. Maybe a clue. Maybe anything. There was something between them that they were trying to keep secret. I couldn't confirm if it was an Idol or if they were a power couple, but once your feet are in the water, you might as well get all the way in. That's where I was at, and I had to be fully vested in it. I pulled all the punches out at that point. "Not only do you have an Idol, I think you guys are a power couple too." Let me just add as much fuel to the fire as I can to make all these suspicions that I have grow for everyone else. That was my goal with that whole thing. I never expected him to drop his drawers. I didn't ask him to drop his drawers. I was actually pretty shocked he dropped his drawers. That's what he felt he had to do to prove something. You can look at that how you want. Maybe he went too far to prove something, so what are you trying to hide?
SK: So even after he stripped naked, you still weren't convinced he didn't have anything to hide?
AB: No way. I still wasn't convinced. I still thought there was something I didn't know. To this day, I still believe there's something they're hiding. Maybe down in a further episode they'll show a past video of what they do have. I don't know. I'm still convinced they were keeping something a secret.
SK: Were you worried that your approach to suggesting J.P. had an Idol was possibly being viewed as too aggressive that early in the game?
AB: No. For me, I knew my position in our tribe. I knew to keep this tribe strong going forward it was too early for them to get rid of me. If I'm gonna pull anything and make any moves to solidify where I'm at, it was then. My efforts were more in getting aligned with Ben and Chrissy. I wanted to confirm and solidify our relationship as opposed to destroying anything with Ashley and J.P., which I wasn't worried about. I knew Katrina was leaving, and I knew if I could solidify myself with Chrissy and Ben, what Ashley and J.P. felt about me didn't matter. Did they have time to look at me as a wild card or explosive as a threat? Yeah, but I thought I had a lot more time on the back end to show Ben and Chrissy it was all game play. I'm actually very level-headed and make pretty good decisions. I did it early in the game to show I can be aggressive, but here's why.
SK: Had the tribal swap not taken place, who was the next target on the Heroes tribe?
AB: J.P. or Ashley. It was a toss-up between them. Me and Ben talked about the fact J.P. had to go. I think everybody who watches may see that J.P. is not offering much to the game [laughs.] We all saw that. He was good around camp, but in terms of the game he was not really a player. J.P. probably would have taken a tumble if another vote would've come up just among us.
SK: Of the remaining contestants, who do you think is the most underestimated?
AB: I think Chrissy. She is very strategic, and she's a good player. She's a thinker. She needs a crack to slip in. She can work from there. After Chrissy got past that first Tribal and now into the swap, I think she's pretty dangerous. I don't think anyone's going to look at her as a threat until she's already got the best of them. We'll see how it plays out, but I'm pulling for Chrissy. Ben is probably one of my favorites, but in terms of underrated, I think it's Chrissy.
SK: Did you reveal to anybody you had a career in the NFL?
AB: Not a chance [laughs.] It never came up. I think I did a good job of keeping that hidden. I thought it was going to come up once, but I moved it to the back burner with Joe. I did tell them I played Division I football, but I didn't give them any clues about what I did after. Desi looked at my arm, and she knows a lot in her profession about scars and surgeries. I did have surgery, and she looked at the scar on my arm while asking a ton of questions. So, I had to reveal something about that. I think that's how I let out the Division I football story. As far as the NFL level, no, I never let that out. I actually told everybody I was a personal trainer.
SK: How did you get on the show?
AB: I am a huge fan of Big Brother and I was a fan of Survivor. Everything came together and the opportunity just came up. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass on when it arose. I just got done with football and how could I ever pass on the opportunity when so many people dream of being on that show?
SK: So you were approached by casting to be on Survivor?
AB: Yeah, somewhat in a sense. I applied for the show as well.
SK: Do you think your placement on the Heroes tribe was the right fit for you?
AB: I consider myself a hustler because I've worked a lot to get where I am in life. But I'm definitely aware that people outside, based on my profession, may view me as a hero. I don't think I measure up as a hero when I look at guys like Ben, who is a Marine, or J.P., who is a fireman. Ashley is a lifeguard. Those people save lives. I don't think I'm in that category in terms of saving lives, but I definitely try to reach as many people as I can. I was definitely honored to be put on that tribe, but initially I wrestled with the fact if I was really a hero compared to these guys. But I do think it was the right fit for me after we got going.
SK: Having played in the NFL, what is your take on the national anthem protests?
AB: The country that we live in, everybody has their opinion. I feel as everyone's opinion has to be respected. I also feel everyone's journey in life is different. Based upon your journey is what your perspective is. You get your perspective off the things you've seen and the things that you've been through. As people in this country, we should all be in a place where we can respect everyone's views no matter what they are. As long as they're not offending anyone, as long as they're not changing the way anyone lives or affecting anyone's lives. Your opinion is your opinion, and I think you should be entitled to that.