Dan Foley: My 'Survivor' Portrayal Was Unfair

The latest castoff expresses his frustration about how he was portrayed on TV

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Everyone knows that Survivor is a highly edited show.

Over a period of three days, multiple cameras film between 300-500 hours of footage. Then, a team of editors boil all that footage down to one 44-minute episode.

Dan Foley, the latest contestant voted off the island, says he watched the first two episodes and realized that he was going to get a villain’s edit. But even he seems surprised at how negatively he was portrayed – and how vitriolic the viewer response has been.

So what did we miss? Foley, a 47-year-old postal worker from Maine, was happy to tell us.

Okay, there are going to be some tough questions today, but let’s start with an easy one: what could you have done differently to keep from going home?
You know, it’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. If I had only known that Carolyn had the immunity idol, I would have voted out Sierra.

You used your extra vote during the tribal council. Do you think that made you a target?
I said it before: superfans can’t do basic math. It made no sense for me to play that vote when there was an odd number of people left. I wanted to play it when there was an even number. And what you didn’t see was that Sierra came to me and said that Will was ready to get rid of me. And then during Tribal Council, Will said, “If Dan has the advantage, he should use it.” It was the right time to play it.

Fair enough. So what was your reaction when you were voted out? Were you angry at Carolyn?
Look, anyone who walks out of the game with a smile on their face didn’t play the game. I left that game with a fever of expletives. They didn’t show it, but I was swearing and spitting and seething after my torch was snuffed. I was absolutely furious, calling Mike every name in the book. But I don’t wish anyone ill will.

Okay, I need to call you out on your statement that flippers never win.
They don’t.

They do.
No they don’t. Tony Vlachos was a backstabber, not a flipper.

Okay, but Vecepia Towery won season 4 and she flipped twice. She flipped to vote out Boston Rob at Final 10. Then, at Final 9, she flipped back and took out the Rotu alliance.
But did she win?

Yes. She won the million. She beat Neleh Dennis.
Huh. Okay.

And Sandra Diaz Twine flipped multiple times to win.
Well, Sandra is a different case altogether. But Cochran flipped, and did that work for him?

No. No one says that all flippers don’t win. But flippers can and do win. Also, there was Danni Boatwright in Guatemala…
(Laughs) Yes, she played a good game. But I still believe that flippers don’t win. I really do.

Okay, let’s move on to the ugliness of the season. Your character was very difficult to root for.
I talked to Jeff Probst the other day and I ripped him a new one. I said, “You did me wrong. You did me dirty. You screwed me on my edit. You made me look like a piece of s—.” And Jeff said, “How do you figure?” And I said, “You cherry-picked things to show, sometimes out of context.”

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I don’t know you. I only know the edited version of you. Are you saying that it was incorrect?When I am pushed, I push back. And I was pushed a lot. They didn’t show that. Lindsey, Sierra … they said things to me and pushed back. Look, I was always the fat guy. I learned how to stand up for myself. But you didn’t see what other people were saying or doing.

You took a lot of heat for your comments to Shirin.
Look, there’s not a single person on this season who didn’t say derogatory things about Shirin. Even Mike called her a man-hater. I made an unfortunate comment about slapping her. I had no idea about her past. None. Zero. I would never have made that comment. I apologize for saying it.

But at the same time, my comment was not meant literally. I meant it figuratively. How many times do you hear people say, “I could kill him.” Are they really plotting to kill someone? Of course not.

So where do things stand with Shirin now?
The truth of the matter is that we don’t get along. I don’t wish her ill or badly, and I hope nothing but the best for her. I hope that if she wants to go back on Survivor again, she gets that shot. There are things in her past that continue to haunt her to this day, and I hope that she gets the help that she clearly needs.

You were a big Survivor fan. Now that your reputation has taken a hit, are you still a fan of the show?
My reputation has not been harmed. The people who know me know that my edit was not who I really am. I don’t have a problem telling the truth. There are people who love me, and people who hate me. There is no real middle ground. the people who hate me can’t handle the truth.

But do you still love the show, or has your view been tainted?
How can you not have a tainted vision when you pull back the curtain and see that Oz is pulling on the levers? I’m a little disappointed, but I still love the show. Would I play it again? (Long Pause) Yeah. In a second.

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