Survivor’s Wendy: Not Knowing Jimmy Johnson Hurt Me
Wendy Jo Desmidt-Kohlhoff
The speculation began as soon as NFL legend Jimmy Johnson joined Survivor: Nicaragua: Wouldn't his fame make him a target? In the first episode, things didn't work out exactly as viewers might have expected. Instead of hurting him, Johnson's fame helped break the ice among his teammates — except the one who didn't know recognize him. Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff, a 48-year-old goat rancher, says her lack of awareness may have cost her — and contributed to her being sent home.
Watch the first episode of Survivor: Nicaragua
TVGuide.com: Did you know you were going to get voted off?
Wendy DeSmidt-Kohlhoff: I knew I was going to be voted off even before the first tribal council started. I just had that feeling and I think it was because I never really got to know people well. I didn't talk like I normally do, I didn't share a lot of information, I wasn't asked [for] a lot of information. I just kind of felt like I didn't gel with the group as a whole.
TVGuide.com: Did you regret not opening up more and being true to yourself?
Wendy: It was difficult to hold back on a lot of things that I wanted say, but I kept thinking, 'I don't want to come across like a chatterbox, a know-it-all, constantly disagreeing with people.' ... I didn't want to become a very strong person, or a chatterbox person where I'm annoying people.
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TVGuide.com: Did you think your speech at tribal council would help save you?
Wendy: I don't think it helped me at all. The whole point I was trying to make was, I never felt like people got to know me. When they were going around asking how old are you, no one ever said, 'Wendy, how old are you?' It's like they didn't care to, and I didn't interject. I should have started doing that stuff and saying what I was capable of doing. ... I felt like every tribe member there, as much as we were different, we had a lot in common. A lot of us had so much in common, even though we were very diversified.
TVGuide.com: What was it like playing alongside Jimmy Johnson? Did you know who he was?
Wendy: I actually didn't know Jimmy Johnson and I think that hurt me. He was so very flattered, because everybody was like, 'Oh my God, it's you,' and people approached him. I heard him talk and asked, 'Who's that?' ... I don't even watch football, so I wouldn't know. Because I didn't know who he was, of course I didn't go up to him like everyone else. I think that basically hurt me because I think if he had someone to pick to get out, why wouldn't he pick the person who didn't know him? I was not the only one that didn't know [who he was]. There were other people on the tribe, but he didn't know who they were.
TVGuide.com: What did you think about his speech about not wanting to win the money?
Wendy: I think some people did buy it and just said they didn't. I think they thought he might donate it, so he could be a threat. ... When I learned who he was, I thought it might be fun to be able to get something from him as far as him giving us feedback on our challenges and on what we could do better for ourselves physically. But we didn't get that and that was disappointing to me. I don't need a pep talk, I'm always motivated. I don't need people to motivate me. ... I felt honored to be on his tribe even though I didn't really know him and didn't get a good feeling about him at first. I could tell he didn't like me.