Brandon Hantz and his uncle Russell speak out on his controversial meltdown
In 26 seasons, audiences have never seen a contestant leave Survivor as spectacularly as Brandon Hantz.
After an argument with fellow contestant Phillip Sheppard on Wednesday night’s Survivor: Caramoan, Hantz, 21, angrily dumped out his tribe’s beans and rice while unleashing a profanity-laced tirade directed at his tribe.
Life around camp became so tense that, for the first time, Hantz’s tribe refused to compete in the immunity challenge and voted Hantz out on the spot.
It was an uncomfortable scene that led audiences to wonder if Hantz, 21, was mentally stable enough to play Survivor.
Hantz watched the episode at home with his uncle Russell, Survivor‘s most notorious villain and two-time fan favorite.
“He’s young, impressionable and he acts out when he gets mad,” Russell Hantz tells PEOPLE. “When I get mad, I do things behind their back. Brandon did it to their face, and they really had no choice but to vote him off. He shouldn’t have dumped out the rice in front of everyone; he should have hidden it in the middle of the night.”
“I did things when I played that were villainous, but they really did have a strategic purpose. I appreciate that Brandon wanted to stand up for himself, but he lost sight of the fact that this was a game for a million dollars.”
Speaking to PEOPLE, an upbeat Brandon Hantz insists that, despite his outburst, he really isn’t crazy.
Brandon, what happened?
I’m so glad you asked me that, brother, because a lot of people aren’t interested to know what happened; they just want to make their own guesses of what really went down. There was so much that happened that you never saw on TV.
You didn’t see the disrespect that Phillip gave to everyone, the constant dictatorship. Phillip talked about himself all day long. How good he is in basketball. There’s not enough time in the day to talk about what Phillip said about himself. He gave us ridiculous names, condescending ones. He treated us all like children, and it finally got to me. He’s the most annoying player on Survivor. Everyone was feeling it, but they were followers. Cowards, all of them. Cochran, Corinne, Malcolm. They just went with the flow. And I wasn’t going to put up with it.
You actually quit the game, but then you backtracked.
I just had gotten back together with my wife. I was missing my children. We had been living in separate states – the reason why I wanted to go home. It started getting to you. I was hungry, but being the man that I am, I decided to keep going.
But the very next day, you went on a tirade.
At that point in time, I said, ‘I’m not playing games anymore. I’m not going to be Phillip’s pet. I’m standing up for myself.’ And I decided to prove that. No one can ever say that I didn’t stand up for myself.
That’s true. But you threw out your tribe’s entire ration of food.
Yeah, the beans and rice thing. I can see why they were upset about it. It wasn’t premeditated. I don’t know; have you ever been really angry and you just do what comes to mind? It’s like road rage.
And that rage continued. Jeff Probst had to give you a back rub.
He gave me a massage! Who else has gotten a massage, son? I have! What medal does that get? I want a medal at the finale for being the first player to get a massage from Jeff Probst!
So do you have regrets?
No! My second time playing the game in 13 days was better than all 36 days in Samoa, bro. Everything you see in Samoa, it built up to what you saw this season. If I went back and played now, I’d be such a different player. I’ve been the hero and the villain. What’s that smell like? No one else has ever done that! It worked out so perfectly. There’s no acting, there’s no pretending. I left the game on my terms, not anyone else’s. I’d do Survivor again, and I’d be a totally different player.
There are a lot of concerns for your mental state. How are you?
They’re taking off the straitjacket as we speak. [Laughs] No, I’m fine. I really am. What other people think, I say out loud. That’s what being a Hantz is all about. So I don t have mental problems. No one out there was in danger; I wasn’t going to hurt myself or anyone else. But if you get personal with me, I will push back. That’s what Phillip did. And he may be the nicest guy in the world outside the game of Survivor, but I didn’t respect how he was acting inside the game.
But you see why people were worried about you, right?
People say that it’s hard to watch, but I’m proud of myself and how I left the game. I don’t know why people want to assume that something’s wrong. I don’t have mental problems.
So you’re good now?
Everything is fine. My wife is expecting a baby girl, our third child. I know that everyone isn’t going to agree with me, but I am in a good place.