The outspoken contestant sounds off on the challenges, his injury, and which contestants got underneath his skin
You’ve got to hand it to Jeff Varner.
In Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, 20 seasoned reality stars are all competing for airtime. Varner became the de facto star of the season during the first four episodes, based on his snarky comments and insight.
“Jeff Varner is a fantastic narrator,” Jeff Probst told PEOPLE last month. “He very, very smart and he can articulate his opinions very well – even though other people might not always like what he has to say.”
It was that very trait that may have become Varner’s undoing. After the third immunity challenge, he was mouthing information to his allies on another tribe when contestant Tasha Fox caught him. Varner responded by publicly divulging everyone’s strategies.
It was fantastic TV – but then again, Varner was television gold every time he appeared on the screen.
Varner is still not done talking. In his exit interview with PEOPLE, he calls it like he sees it – and true to Jeff Probst’s prediction, not everyone will like what he had to say.
Jeff, I can’t believe that we’re talking so soon in the season!
Neither can I! (Laughs) But going out fourth in an all-star season isn’t like going out fourth in a regular season. I’m proud of how I played the game. I was very mindful that millions of people had voted me back onto Survivor. I felt that I owed it to them to play the game hard. I thought about them more often than I thought about my family!
So let’s talk about your game. What did we miss?
Gosh. That’s a big question. You missed a lot. There were so many conversations and strategies that went on that you didn’t see. Also, I was better in challenges than some people have given me credit for. I was strategic every minute of the day.
You did get a little bit of the ‘lazy’ edit.
I was not lazy at Angkor! Andrew talking about how I was sleeping all the time, that was a blatant lie to throw some shade on me. I built our shelter singlehandedly. Abi, Peih Gee and I were the only ones who went fishing. Tasha and Woo never set foot in the water; Andrew went in the water once. So this whole ‘Jeff’s lazy’ thing, well, I just don’t get it. I really worked hard.
So Andrew is being shown as a hero. What’s he like?
That’s not the Andrew I knew. Andrew was passive, quiet, soft spoken. That whole Captain America thing, he didn’t do anything. Tasha ran that show. Every time you tried to talk to him, he’d say ‘let me go ask Tasha.’ Andrew was very narcissistic and arrogant. He drinks his own Kool-Aid. He thinks he’s awesome and wonderful and is the first person to let you know it. He’s being edited differently.
Okay, so let’s talk about Tasha
Well, I don’t know Tasha personally. I tried to get to know her, but she wouldn’t let me in. She was closed off and she puts up a wall. She smiles a lot, but her eyes never do. You can take a picture of her face and put a piece of paper over the mouth. Just stare at the eyes, and that will tell you one story. Put the paper over the eyes and look at the mouth, and that will tell another story.
“I remember Tasha being oppressive. Wouldn’t allow people to talk to each other and would cause a scene when they tried to. She was very bossy. She was nice to some people, but very mean to me. Nasty is a word that comes to mind.
Coming out the game, seeing her talk about how she’s going to pray for forgiveness later. You know, Tasha aside, anyone who goes into this nasty, duplicitous game and uses God and Jesus as a weapon, well, I don’t think God approves of that, and it goes against the Bible.
The Bible is very clear in Romans 6. Do not abuse God’s grace. Don’t sin and think you can ask for forgiveness later. I have no respect for that. I was raised Christian. I think it is a misguided strategy.
Well, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen God used as a strategy in Survivor.
Well, I don’t like it. I think Tasha is misguided. She’s not a happy person. I hope this experience shakes her awake and shows her that the rest of her life can be so much better and so much happier if she just drops all this BS.
Don’t talk about how great a Christian you are and throw the F-bomb around. Then be mean to somebody, and run into the woods to pray, then come back to be mean to somebody else. You just don’t do that.
See, now I really liked her in Cagayan.
I did too! I was so excited to meet her, and then we got to Ponderosa before the show began, and she was just awful. She was hogging the couch, giving everyone dirty looks. She just has this oppressive energy about her. I was so disappointed. I thought ‘you are not who I thought you were.’ Tasha has an energy I don’t want in my world. I just can’t have that. I don’t want it; I don’t need it. She wasn’t there before, she ain’t gonna be there tomorrow.”
Okay, on the flip side, who did you get to appreciate out there?
Um, wow. I appreciate and love everyone else. I love Abi. I don’t have any bitterness towards her. She was my fault; I kept her around and I deserve everything I got after that. To her credit, Abi came to me and told me what was going to happy. She has a quick trigger; she’s going to hurt you before you hurt you. Here’s what you do with Abi: shower her with love, tell her she’s beautiful and sexy, everything she needs to hear. So when she decides to lose her wig and go crazy, she’ll do it on everyone else but you. (Laughs) No, seriously, I love Abi. I really do. She’s great.
Should you have voted off Abi instead of Vytas?
No. Vytas was trouble too. He was stirring up trouble, too! So I did what I did. He was clearly hooked up with the other side, as well. It was the right choice. Getting rid of Shirin next was the right choice; we got rid of one strategic threat and made another one cry! (Laughs) Everything happened like it should have happened, right up to my injury.
Was that worse than we saw?
Yes! My entire toe turned black and swollen. I was in trouble for awhile. My toenail just fell off last week! It was very painful. I was hobbling behind everybody. Physically, I was done at that point. I knew I was done.
That challenge seemed brutal
It was horrible. My foot was pounding. I went down on my knees and was about to pass out. We were so done.
And now you’re gone.
I’m gone! I love Survivor and can’t wait to see where it goes from here – but I don’t know what they’re going to do without me!
Want to hear more from Jeff? Check out the audio interview below to hear her exit interview with two-time Survivor contestant Rob Cesternino!