The Best Survivor Player to Not Win: An Interview with Rob Cesterninoby David Bloomberg -- 05/23/2003
Rob Cesternino was the most entertaining player on Survivor: The Amazon and possibly on any Survivor series yet. He also was one of the most strategic-minded. Now that things have calmed down a bit after the finale, Rob answered some of our questions about what went on in the game. What was the jury thinking? What was he thinking? How did he prepare for the game? And much more!
RealityNewsOnline: Hello, Rob, and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions from RealityNewsOnline. Let's start with the biggest issue of all. After the jury voted for Jenna, I wrote up an article saying that it was because most of you thought she had played better (Why Jenna Won). You indicated something similar in your online chat. But still people have been e-mailing me saying no, you were all just vindictive against Matt and/or wanted the "cool kid" to win. So let's get to the heart of it: Why did you and the rest of the jury vote for Jenna?
Rob: There were many reasons why the Jury voted for Jenna over Matt. First and foremost, Jenna from days 1-39, had a better understanding of the game, whereas Matthew was living in fantasy land until around about day 30. Matthew's only understanding on the environment around him was given to him. He had no idea that he was on the chopping block when both Deena and Alex instead were kicked off, and at those times he was saved only by good fortune of others making power plays at bigger threats. Jenna showed extreme determination at the end of the game as well winning the final two immunity challenges. I personally also felt that Matthew had a very poor final tribal council showing. His opening statements were along the lines of, "I have played this game with utter honesty and integrity," and his closing statements were, "I have been deceitful and dishonest during this game." All in all I felt the entire performance was inconsistent, whereas Jenna's responses (while not divine answers from the heavens) were more straightforward and truthful.
RNO: Hindsight is 20/20 and many people have e-mailed to tell me that you should have voted out Jenna instead of Heidi at #5, because Heidi would not have been able to win those two challenges in a row (as evidence, they point to the fact that by the end of the final reward challenge, Heidi was still on step one, in the cage). So why did you choose to bring Jenna along instead of Heidi and do you now think that was a mistake?
Rob: Matt and I thought that Heidi would be the bigger immunity threat. If you look at Heidi's performance in the immunity challenge at #5, rather than the reward challenge, you'll see that Heidi finished a close second to Matt in a physical challenge. I personally felt that Heidi was a much bigger threat in both a challenge like "Fallen Comrades" (since Heidi had been with Butch, Dave, and Christy longer at Tambaqui as opposed to Jenna being only at Jaburu with myself and Matt) or an endurance challenge since Heidi is a better athlete than Jenna. I also believe that Heidi would have gone on to win both challenges just as Jenna did, so I don't think that that was such a terrible decision. Jenna wanted to quit the game because she was sick, so we chose to keep the person that we thought would just roll over and die – and unfortunately for us, she didn't.
RNO: Going back a little, there was quite a bit of debate on RealityNewsOnline about why you chose to vote out Deena when you did (Why Did Rob Vote Out Deena? and More Thoughts on Why Rob Voted Out Deena). I, personally, thought at the time that it was too early. So, why did you choose to go in that direction?
Rob: There were several reasons why I had voted out Deena with the rest of the group. Basically, Deena had promised different things to different people and when Jenna, Heidi, Alex, and I compared notes we realized that Deena was lying to at least three of us. With that information, it was impossible to determine who Deena was actually telling the truth to. Since Jenna and Heidi were more loyal to Alex than Deena, it wasn't possible for me to save Deena. I may have been able to recruit Matthew and Butch, but they were under the impression that we were voting off Deena because all the men had a secret alliance ("The Chain"). Butch and Matt would not have understood why we were voting off Alex – and may have questioned the decision. In the end, I felt it was the safest decision to get rid of Deena at that point. Since nobody knew how close Deena and I were in our alliance (similar to Jason and Danielle in Big Brother 3) I wasn't held accountable for her actions against Alex. I did regret having to vote off Deena because she was the only person that I ever trusted, and deep down I knew that she was always telling me the truth - but in Survivor you have to look out for yourself first.
RNO: Was there any time before the final three when you felt you were on the chopping block?
Rob: On Days 10-12, after Daniel had gotten the boot, I had felt very vulnerable. Roger had promised me that Matt was the next to go, but I started getting nervous as Matt was catching more and more fish. I tried to keep reminding Roger about how Matt voted for him at the first tribal council and was in an alliance with Ryan and Daniel. I think that if we would have lost the immunity on Day 12, I would have really sweated it out, but I'm somewhat confident that Matthew would have been voted out.
RNO: What, if anything, was your biggest strategic blunder?
Rob: I don't know if I can chalk up any one thing as my biggest strategic blunder. I've gone over the game many times in my head – and I can't come up with one major thing. Perhaps, [I should have] trust[ed] Christy and boot[ed] off Jenna or Heidi at #6, but I had no way to know that the vote wouldn't be a tie. As mentioned above, maybe we should have voted off Jenna instead of Heidi. I don't think that there is just one thing that could have changed the outcome of the game for me with the exception of staying on that beam longer than Jenna. I would like to encourage your readers, if I'm missing something big, to please let me know what I may have not thought of.
RNO: Have your opinions changed about any of the other players after watching the show on TV?
Rob: I'd like to think that I was pretty dead on about all of the players while I was there. I wasn't surprised by too much that I saw on television. Maybe if there was one thing, I was surprised by how cocky and confident Matthew had become by the end of the game. I think that Matthew truly believed that he would have beaten either Jenna or myself in the final jury vote, and that's why he was so eager to throw the final challenge.
RNO: Do you regret any of the things you said on the show?
Rob: I honestly don't regret much I said on the show. Truth be told, the only person that I regret the things I said about them is Dave. Dave is a really awesome guy to hang out with and the reasons why I wasn't fond of him in the game and the exact reasons why I like him now. He's smart, funny, and a very charismatic leader. It's a weird game where people's good qualities can actually hurt their chances. If he was a weirdo who was annoying I would have wanted to keep him around until the end.
RNO: How did you prepare for going on Survivor and who were some of your influences (for example, you seemed to act a bit like Will of Big Brother 2 sometimes)?
Rob: In preparing for Survivor, I actually did a great deal both physically and mentally. Physically I added a lot of body fat to slow down my metabolism. Although I may have sacrificed my chance to appear in Playgirl, I thought it kept me healthy throughout the game. Mentally, I have watched every season of Survivor and other shows like Big Brother. Will Kirby was a big influence on me and I took more than a few pages out of his book. I also read an article that some crazy survivor fan wrote on the internet called "What Survivors Should know by now," it was actually very helpful but I can't remember the author's name at this time. [Editor’s Note: Very funny, Rob! He is, of course, talking about my articles on What Survivors Should Have Learned, the most recent of which is here.] I had also read some books about corporate leadership strategies which were also very helpful.
RNO: The subject has recently come up from some fans asking why so many people favor the strategic game element over winning challenges, keeping the camp running, getting food, and other "survival" points. Why do you think the strategic element is more highly-regarded by players?
Rob: I think the strategic part of the game is the most important. Even though the physical part of the game is important, these are not X-games. This is the most amazing strategic game ever created and that's where the fun in the game lies.
RNO: Can we expect to see you on the All-Star version?
Rob: I would love to be invited to play the All-Star version of Survivor. I would love to be able to play against some of the other players from Survivor history. I would actually love to be able to vote Richard [Hatch] out because he is a very cocky player. I also think that I would have to play with a different strategy because I don't think the same strategy would work again. Either way, I'd love to play, and I'm ready to go if and when I get the call.
RNO: Thanks again!
Rob: Thanks for the questions!!
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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