By People Staff
Updated December 01, 2020 03:51 PM
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

It was bound to happen … a crack developed in the seemingly impenetrable Kota tribe alliance on Survivor: Gabon. After another surprise tribe swap, Marcus Lehman, a 28-year-old doctor from Atlanta was the second consecutive contestant caught in CrystalKen’s conniving crosshairs. … Carrie Bell

You made a risky deal and blew it. You had a concrete alliance for so long and all of the sudden, you abandon it on the word of someone you essentially just met. No, what I was doing was keeping my alliance with Susie and Bob, but being very aware of the fact that Susie was insane and unpredictable. She had been saying for days, ‘My promises don’t count; it’s just a game.’ So I felt like, ‘I am screwed with this lady if we don’t do something.’ Bob and Susie didn’t care which one Kenny or Crystal we voted out. And then I realized Crystal and I had an outside-the-game relationship. I figured if Susie was going to sell out, we should work on her. I thought, ‘Well shoot, if I can build on the relationship that Crystal and I have outside the game, we could have a sixth person that would be really great to have around.’” How did you figure out that you knew Crystal’s cousin and have you been in touch with him about what went down? It came up when we were talking and getting to know each other. Her cousin’s name is Kenneth Cox. He’s one of my best friends. He’s an amazing guy, a stand-up guy. He’s like a brother. He and I talked about it. It certainly has impacted our relationship a bit. It’s not something that feels good, but our friendship has been strong for a long time and I’m confident that it’s not really going to prevent it from continuing to be good.

Did you go into tribal council worried that you still might be going home or did you trust her completely? How did it feel to realize she had double-crossed you? There are two things you don’t want to think about … that they won’t sell out family and friends and that they wouldn’t take advantage of compassion. I had an inkling that I was probably dealing with that could care less about those ideas. I knew I was in trouble the minute I walked back to camp with those guys. I was just hoping that the bond she has with her cousin and my friendship would give her a second thought. Susie was always a liability. I knew Susie would not be able to make a well-placed decision. I knew I was dealing with less than trustworthy and I wasn’t willing to stoop to that level. It isn’t worth it. I don’t need a million dollars for the price of my dignity.

In your exit interview, you said, as a jury member you can forgive but not forget. Even so, can you not appreciate the craftiness play of Ken and Crystal? I think it is possible to play an honorable game and get to the end taking the high road. Being more willing to do more base things than the other player is not gamesmanship; that’s just having less shame than the other person. You are not more clever than me because you are willing to do lower things. It is more challenging to try and take the higher road.

Can you appreciate why Susie jumped ship? You can’t honestly say you would have taken Susie to the final three? Susie had been with us for about 15 days at that point and we had been hammering home our plan. If we jump on this wagon together, uplifting each other and staying positive, we will win challenges and we will stay away from bickering. But Dan and Susie had a hard time grasping our strategy and buy into it enough to let themselves become part of the group. We had just had this crazy random switch, which was the worst thing that could have happened for our alliance. And she was asking me to promise her final three, which I couldn’t. I was like, ‘Lady, I don’t even know if I’m going to be in the final three. What can I do for you?’ You can’t sit there and say I am definitely going to take this person to the final three. The game constantly changes.

Would you do this again?Yes absolutely. This was a life-changing and life-affirming experience. It has given me a real appreciation for my life and the things I do well. I feel like a very humbled work in progress from this experience. I would go back in a heartbeat. It was so much fun. I am trying to wiggle my way on to the next one as a builder or something.

Even though you’d have to endure the physical toll again?Yes. I was blessed with my bug-handling abilities. I didn’t get too many bites. I had the privilege of having more clothes than the girls and sleeping by the fire helped. I lost about 15 pounds, which was about a half a pound a day. It was grueling. My beard was grueling. It looked like I haven’t hit puberty in a few parts of my face. But I tried not to let the physical wear keep me from taking extra walks or going out in the canoe. I avoided naps. I just reminded myself that I was in Gabon and this was the most unique experience I had ever had.

Give us your status update. I am making a transition up to Atlanta from Jacksonville. I had to finish my residency there. I have started to wonder if I could do medical correspondence or use my degree and the media’s reach to help learn how to treat their bodies well. That’s something I hope to pursue and in the meantime, I will continue my residency training in anesthesia.

READ MORE: Marcus Becomes the First Juror on Survivor: Gabon

Monty Brinton/CBS