'Survivor: Redemption Island:' Matt admits he wasn’t there to play the game; talks possible future with Andrea

Image credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

Matt Elrod was the second person voted out of Redemption Island, and yet he still made it all the way to the finale. His journey came to an end in the final duel as he admired some pretty trees and oh-so-briefly lost his concentration, allowing his vase to tip over and fall. He called into EW.com today to discuss his unique experience on the show, why he signed up in the first place, and whether or not he is actually dating Andrea. Read on after the jump for the complete interview.

Matt, by my calculations you spent 672 days at Redemption Island. Or at least it seemed like it.  Was it as much of an emotional roller coaster as it seemed to be for you?
It absolutely was. It was probably even more of an emotional roller coaster than they showed. In the mornings I’d wake up and be miserable and cold and hungry, and then by the afternoon I’d normally kind of lighten up and be in better spirits, but it was a day-to-day thing and I was all over the place for sure.

What was harder: Bring blindsided twice by your own tribe, or then having to watch yourself get blindsided twice by your own tribe on TV?
Well, the second time I got blindsided on the show it was actually kind of funny because I was like “Who does that?” But then watching it on TV, it was a little bit harder to watch because you’re seeing what everybody is saying. At the same time, I kind of like the way everything panned out for me. I’m pretty happy with it, so I can’t really complain too much either way.

You had some strong words for the final three at that last Tribal. How do you feel now about the concept of separating the game from life in terms of one’s actions?
I love the game. I respect the game a lot. I respect Rob as a person and as a Survivor player. And that’s one of the reasons that he’s so good because he can distinguish between the two. I think it’s doable. I don’t think there’s any problem with playing the game — it’s just not where my heart was going into it. And really the only reason I didn’t play is it wasn’t my true motivation for going to play the game of Survivor, I guess.

What was your true motivation for going to play Survivor then?
I guess, really, I wanted to glorify God and get his name out there and try to encourage anyone I could. I felt like I had been given a platform and I wanted to use it just the best way that I could. I don’t know if people saw a weak, crying kid struggling to put one foot in front of the other or a broken man trusting in something much greater than himself and trying to show the love and joy and peace that he felt.

I think we saw both!
[Laughing] Probably so.

Would you have been able to lie and backstab and tell people they were going to the end with you even if they weren’t, like Rob did?
This was Rob’s fourth time playing the game. Obviously he’s got a little bit of an advantage and quite the skill set for sure. My first go round, had I wanted to go that route I really don’t think I could have played that game as well as he did. But if I were to go back and play it again, I could play it that way. I’m not sure.

So after all the misery you were put through, you would go back and play Survivor again if asked?
You know, I’m about 50-50 on this one. Some of me wants to go back and some of me just wants to stay so I’m not really certain.

C’mon, you guys always go back. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people and they’re like “I’m not going back” and there they are again.
I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out in the future when we’re doing an interview.

We will, and I’ll say, “See, I told you!” Now let’s say Andrea had made it to the final three. Would you have voted for her to win?
I think I absolutely would have voted for her to win. I mean Rob played a perfect game, but to be honest with you, I was looking for a reason to not vote for him. And Andrea was a hard, hard worker. She’s great in challenges. She’s tough as nails. I think I would have voted for her for sure.

I know you were pretty upset with her when she first got to Redemption. So did that pass quickly?
I was being cordial with her. I just wasn’t being overly nice to her and she came out and started saying I was giving her evil eyes and started attacking me and that’s where things kinda went south. But she did what she had to do, and I’ve got to respect that. I can’t tell anyone how to play the game, and she’s a good gal. So there was no bad blood there, and if there was, it didn’t last long.

What about if Mike had made it back into the game and into the final three? I’m guessing he would have gotten your vote also.
Oh, goodness, yeah. Mike would have gotten two of my votes if that were possible.

That whole exchange with Probst at the reunion about whether you and Andrea are dating was really awkward, so let’s make you awkward again and follow up on that. What’s the deal there? I still can’t figure out what’s going on.
I mean, I don’t know. We’ve talked a lot since we got back from the show. I think we’re just at different places in our lives right now and maybe want two different things out of life. I look forward to being a great friend in the future but I can’t say for certain what I’m doing tomorrow let alone a year from now. As of right now, we’re just friends.

To see my pre-game joint interview with Matt, check out the video player below. Also make sure to read my interview with winner Boston Rob Mariano as well as the Survivor: Redemption Island finale/reunion recap, And for more Survivor news and views all year long, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

Comments (39 total) Add your comment
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  • cattyfan

    I was rooting for Matt. I hope he finds much success and many blessings in his life.

    • wsugar

      Matt the multiple loserrrr.

      • stephen

        I couldn’t take another “God’s glory” bs from him. It was painful. GOD DOESN’T CARE ABOUT SURVIVOR.

      • Robin

        I am not religious at all, I’m an atheist if anything, but you clearly missed his point.

      • Paul

        The only loser here is you, the guy hiding behind the keyboard calling other people losers. Go take a good long look into a mirror, you’ll find the definition of loser there.

    • kyrjar

      He seems super nice but his constant God talk actually would turn off many a good Christian. God does not care who wins Survivor. Bad things do not happen because God wanted it that way and I personally don’t think God plans every little thing in our lives. So I think that he did not accomplish his alleged goal. But I wish him well. A sensible girl like Andrea would be great for him.

      • Nikki

        No, God doesn’t care about who wins survivor.. That’s why Matt DIDN’T win. He won EVERY redemption island challenge except the last one. Matt used the platform he has to preach about God for people to say. So everyone saying “God doesn’t care about the winner” is true.. But God did help him go far in that game as he was glorifying his name. I knew Matt wasn’t going to win the game, because I knew that a LOT of ppl would bad mouth Matt and God for that matter. I loved how he glorified God.

  • stause

    Survivor is about what is wrong with the values in America. Survivor is a game that embodies lying, cheating, and betraying of one’s friends. America would rather give the $100,000 dollars to the biggest liar and friend betrayer (rob) than to a God respecting Person (Mat). There is no wonder we have people like Bernie Madoff, and all the other banking and government scandal which take place in America today. I know this is a game but with the values of this game I can’t see what Americas fascination is with this game.

    • cattyfan

      Survivor doesn’t have to be played dirty to win. Tina and Ethan proved that.

    • Meeghan

      You’re delusional. He didn’t lie and cheat, he played the game and won fairly. He won challenges. People did what he told them to do. Rob didn’t do anything bad. He played a great game and deserved it. People shouldn’t vote for someone based on their faith. God doesn’t belong in reality tv.

      • Jane

        I’m a very devoted Christian & I have absolutely no problem at all withhow Rob played the game. Now if that was real life- I would have a huge problem with Rob. That’s what makes him such a good player- he can differentiate between personal & the game. I also don’t think God cares all that much about Survivor. I agree with Matt on that. What I think God does care about is Matt & people. I think God probably wanted Matt to grow in his faith & give Matt a unique & wonderful (albeit hard at times) experience & I think that is pretty much what matt himself has said.

    • el

      Seriously, it’s a game.

    • Mike

      Sorry Matt, but God wasn’t watching over you on Survivor. He was too busy each week voting for Haley to stay on Idol.

  • naynay

    I loved Matt and wish the best for him. He seems to be a genuinely good kid and I respect his faith in God.

    • Fran Warner

      I wanted Matt to win the Million, but at least Rob could have shared the Ten One Hundred Thousand, or given it all to Matt….He already had the Million after all….

  • wakeforce

    It’s called Survivor, not the 700 Club!

    • TJ

      Thank you!

    • cattyfan

      I bet if Matt had talked about his interest in something else like music or surfing, it wouldn’t have bothered you. But somehow a person’s faith offends you. Odd…but luckily free speech guarantees Americans the right to talk about whatever they want. In Matt’s case, it is his genuine belief in Christ. Good for him.

  • Mangan

    Matt was never meant to play the game of Survivor. He was meant to be a priest and be the next pope. Good hearted guy that is just way too good for an evil backstabbing game like this.

  • RoastLamb

    Yeah, I’m really mad that Rob gets everything – for being a backstabbing liar. Only Grant seems to be calling him out on it. I wish Matt had got the $100K. America is what it is. Look at Trump.

    • Dan

      Get over yourself. Grant is a hypocrite. He was happy as a clam to help backstab Matt twice and Andrea. Rob was the superior player in every way.

  • SLB

    “I went on the show to get the word out and glorify god”? Seriously? I’m glad you didn’t win the 100K now. What a p*ssy.

    • paul

      I view those people as weak. Grow a pair and live your freaking life!

    • Laura S

      I know, right–hard to believe, but there are still people out there who proclaim their faith and are not afraid to live it out–even in a bold way as Matt has done–in the face of adversity–and comments like these. And that makes Matt weak? That’s not weakness; that’s a conscientious decision he makes. And so was his approach to playing the game, which, granted, was definitely unconventional. But that was his choice to make. I actually know Matt–and seriously–he actually did mean it. Proud of you, Matt.

  • Scott

    Matt had me talking about God…every time he was on I always said OMG accompanied with an eye roll.

  • Working Mom

    Matt, I didn’t want the show much – because I can’t stand Russell. However, I did read this recap and a few others. Winning at Survivor doesn’t guarantee happiness or prove anything. However, winning at life and keeping your faith through such a tough experiece, showing the viewers that strength and faith is something to be proud of.
    Many people who post anonymous comments are negative cowards. Thank you for being a positive, real person of faith. God Bless.

    • Jane

      Totally agree with you. Thank-you

  • NedPepper

    Bleh. You went on a reality show to glorify your god? And Survivor? And we wonder why this season SUCKED.

    Oh, my gaydar was right on Don Lemon…I think you need to pray, Matt…

  • Sarah

    It is just a game!! People need to get over it!! If you are playing Monopoly and you have Boardwalk and Park Place with 2 hotels and your mom lands on it, do you tell her not to worry about it?? Heck no!! You say pay up and thank god this game is over!!! LOL!!!

    • Dan

      But you promised Mom you wouldn’t get her with Boardwalk. Lying, cheating, backstabber!!! Now she might stop returning your calls. LOL

  • John

    After watching almost every episode of every season, I am always amazed that anybody thinks they can trust anybody and are then surprised and offended when they get blind-sided. Disception is as much a part of this game as it is in chess or football. But the illusion of trust among people living in such close quarters lying beneath a game that is based on manipulation and disception is what makes this game so fascinating. Can’t wait for next season.

  • Diane

    I don’t have a problem with Matt’s religion, but I don’t feel Survivor is the right format for expounding on God. These matters should be private. As far as the way people play the game, it doesn’t say “Outwit, Outplay” for no reason. I’m really happy with Rob’s win!

    • cattyfan

      Why should faith be private? You wouldn’t say that about any other aspect of someone. His faith in Christ is a huge part of who Matt is. It’s no surprise he talks about.

  • John

    I am not a religious person and do not share Matt’s beliefs, but I have no problem with his voicing his beliefs in this context. I only ask that people show respect for the beliefs of others.

    From my perspective, he showed the good elements of his faith. He showed how his faith helps him lead his life better. Nobody knows anything for certain about the true nature of the universe. We each find a set of beliefs that allow us to live our lives. The world would be a whole lot more peaceful if would would all live and let live.

  • mattblows

    What a complete idiot. Dude is a joke. Bet his dumb ass hasn’t had an original thought in his life. And that god crap. If I met him in real life I would kick his ass just for being stupid. What a loser

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