After making it to the finals on Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Russell Hantz was the second person sent packing from the current season of Survivor. Hantz, 38, spoke to PEOPLE about his tears, his “harem” and “trying to move on.”
Let’s get down to it. What happened?
If I had been on the other tribe, that would have helped me. Rob has it perfect. He’s in control. My side – their whole deal was to get rid of me. If they hadn’t blown that challenge, we would have been up three [people] and if we had won the next one, we would have been up four. And then get rid of me. It just doesn’t make sense.
Throwing a challenge to get you out – did you take that as a compliment?
It was crazy because they were so scared of me. Their voices would quiver when they talked to me. They just wanted me out. I guess I can take it as a compliment, but it’s just not how you play the game. They don’t understand how good Rob is. The only person who could have taken out Rob at the merge would have been me. I know you got to get rid of me, but if you weaken my numbers – like get rid of Stephanie or Krista – then you can control me.
Speaking of Stephanie and Krista, teaming with young girls seems to be your M.O.
People talk about my harem. Why don’t they talk about [Rob’s] harem? He has “Miss Maine” and some teenager. I may have “Miss Alabama” and little “Mini-Parvati,” but he does the same exact thing. Don’t they remember last time with Courtney and Sandra? They may not be as pretty as [the girls] I pick but …
Having just three isn’t a strong alliance. Why not a bigger one?
I [first] went to Stephanie, Mike and Steve. But I could see in their eyes that the two guys didn’t want no part of me. So I knew I didn’t have the numbers and I was going to have to start fighting. I had to fake an idol so they would have to split the votes. Then I only needed one vote. I think Julie’s decision [to not vote Ralph out] is one that she’s going to regret for the rest of her life. She’s too stupid to get to the finals without me.
Did you have any idea Ralph had the idol?
No. And when he said he did, it shocked me. I was like, “Did you just say that out loud? The other team is sitting right there, Ralphie Boy.” Everyone thinks, “Ralph’s going to get fan favorite. He’s so loved.” No. He is going to be considered the dumbest player to ever play. He crows like a rooster. He probably does that at home without the cameras rolling.
When you lost the duel with Matt you got pretty emotional.
I felt like I let everybody down. They didn’t show me talking about my kids, but I did. I felt like I let all my fans down, too. Everyone was thinking I could go all the way. It’s unfair because I had such big expectations.
If they asked you back for a fourth time, would you do it?
It would be a real tough decision because I’m trying to move on, do something different than all this. But I don’t regret playing. I met some great people. And I feel like I have been redeemed in my own way.