JT Thomas, the 25-year-old from Mobile, Ala., who won Survivor: Tocantins, got bounced outof Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains by Parvati‘s double-idol whammy and Russell‘s treachery. The cattle rancher spoke to PEOPLE about writing notes to Russell, impending doom and having no regrets. — Cynthia Wang
How are you?I’ve been better, but I’m doing good! For the rest my family, they really hate seeing it. They’ve never seen anybody write my name down so now they are like, “Oh no!” I’m kind of glad it’s out. I don’t regret anything, really.
You seem to think being Southern guys bonded you with Russell.I did fall a little bit for that but I don’t feel like I was as confident as it appeared on TV. We actually knew Russell was not with us when we made it to tribal council. Although we didn’t believe Rupert like we should have, we did know that Russell was not with us and they had one idol for sure. We figured they had one but we never counted on the second.
How shocked were you to see Parvati had two idols?We were really stunned. We kind of shipped Russell off perfectly thinking we were voting for Sandra because we knew he wasn’t with us and we wanted him to vote Sandra and us to vote Jerri, and we fooled him but we had no idea Parvati had two idols and she would give one to Jerri, so when she gave it to Sandra, we were like, “That’s great. Russell went back and told them,” but as soon as they took the other one out, I knew I was gone.
Was it Rupert’s idea that there was an all-female alliance at the Villain’s camp, or were you thinking that too?It was when Tyson went home that I thought to myself that I knew the girls were teaming up and taking out the big players. Then, when Rob went home, I was like, “Certainly something is going on.” I tried so hard to get in contact with someone over there to find out what was going on. I never would have expected it was Sandra in trouble as opposed to the only guy left. I was just a victim of Russell’s game!
So how did the note-writing to Russell come about? Amanda‘s luxury item was colored pencils and a little notepad, so we did have stuff there to write with. But there’s a lot that went in to the note. It almost looked humiliating watching it, but … we only sent the note to be safe because we didn’t know if we had to throw it to Russell, or hide it for him to find it. We didn’t know how we were going to give it to him … Chances are, if he’s not with us, everybody’s gonna see this, but who cares. That was our thinking. The whole tribe wanted to be there for the letter and put their two cents in. It looked more like solely my confidence in Russell, which wasn’t the case.
Was there something or someone you had in Tocantins that could have helped you this time around?There’s no doubt! If Stephen had been there this time, we would have thought this move out a lot more, for sure. I didn’t have anyone I could really trust.
Had you been gunning for Parvati since the start?She is a strong strategical player and guys always seem to fall for Parvati’s sexiness. I wanted Parvati gone as soon as I knew she was on the show!
No one knew Russell’s game. Would things have been different had you known?Who knows? No one can say but there’s definitely one thing for sure — he wouldn’t have gotten a free idol from me!