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Survivor's Carter Williams: My Nice-Guy Strategy Didn't Work

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Monty Brinton/CBS

Carter Williams was a very popular Survivor player who made no enemies and kept his entire tribe laughing with his sardonic one-liners.

That’s why his tribesmates couldn’t let him anywhere near the finals and voted him out on day 33. Williams, a 24-year-old track coach from Shawnee, Kan., dishes on how there was more to his strategy than meets the eye.

So, how are you today?
Well, I just watched myself get voted off Survivor. That was a bummer.

I’ll bet.
I watched it and even though I knew it was going to happen, I sort of thought maybe I’d pull it off. But I didn’t, which kind of sucks.

Lots of regrets?
That’s Survivor. One person walks away with a million dollars, and 17 people walk away with a whole lot of regret. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m one of the 17.

You’re actually funny guy. Why didn’t they show that on Survivor?
I have a lot of one-liners. I wish they had shown that more. As tormenting as the game is, as difficult as it is physically and emotionally, we had good times out there. We laughed. I became great friends with everyone out there. There were a lot of big characters out there, so I guess I just blended in.

Was it your strategy to make friends?
I really did have more strategy than that. There were a couple of players who I wanted to be like. Danni Boatwright won the game by being likeable and sweet, and performing well when her back was up against the wall. Ozzy [Lusth] won challenge after challenge. And people are going to disagree with this, but I like [Survivor: Nicaragua winner] Fabio Birza. He won because he was a loveable, goofy guy who performed well in challenges but was never a threat. I wanted to be a mix of the three of them.

Well, that strategy got you to sixth place.
I was having a conversation with Jeff Kent, and we were going over our strategy. He didn’t think I had any plan, but when I started talking, he looked at me wide-eyed and said, “You need to sit back and let people underestimate you.”

So did everyone else underestimate you?
I think so. People over-strategize in Survivor, and that’s a good way to be voted out. RC came off as always strategizing. Penner was a big strategic player. It can be overwhelming to people, and it puts a target on your back. So I thought, “I’m gonna get to know these people, and I’m going to treat them well, and play this game as well as I can.” I wanted to be honorable. But maybe I overplayed that, because no one wanted me in the finals because I hadn’t made any enemies.

Lisa Whelchel has strategized through the season. Did you know it while you were on the island?
I did. You could see in her eyes and her voice that she was struggling with how to keep her word and still play the game. If you’re constantly flip-flopping, you’re constantly letting people down, and that can build animosity. But she really is a great lady, and we had a lot of great talks out there. I loved every person on the show.

Is there anything else you really wish they had shown?
When I won a challenge, I tried to give up my immunity necklace for more food for the rest of the tribe. Part of it was strategy – I wanted them to like me and not vote against me. But part of it was that we were really hungry out there.

This was a season with big characters, but we didn’t really get to know you. What did we miss?
I can sound like Keanu Reeves, but I’m not dumb. I try to be a nice guy. You can treat people with respect as you compete against him, which I tried to do. I was having so much fun. I loved doing the challenges. I loved meeting people and becoming real friends with them. We played the game and voted each other out, but I got to meet a lot of people I would never have met otherwise, which was really great.