Matthew Lenahan's nickname on Survivor: Nicaragua was "Sash," but he might as well have been called The Comeback Kid. He started out with a strong social game and an equally manipulative ally in Brenda Lowe. But after Brenda was blindsided, and after allies NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn quit the game, Sash seemed destined to fail. Thanks to several key strategic moves, however, Sash made it to the final three. The only problem? The jurors favored emotional connections over smart plays and he received a stunning zero votes for the million dollars. The 30-year-old real estate broker from New York, N.Y. spoke with TVGuide.com about why he thought he could win, how Fabio Birza changed the game and his thoughts on Jane Bright's tribal council remarks.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you didn't receive a single vote from the jury?
Matthew "Sash" Lenahan: It's rough. I think I played a great game on the show. I don't regret anything. I think I made the best move every step of the way, and I did the best that I could. I can't control how the jury is going to vote. I did think that I had a shot tonight, but I think the jury voted a lot based on emotion and previous relationships, and not necessarily based on the way I played, which is how I would have based my vote. I just thought some of the members of the jury would have respected the game more.
But saying that, Fabio is a great winner. I am a super fan of the show, I've watched all 10 years and 20 seasons, and no one has ever played like Fabio has. I thought I knew all the twists and all the turns and all the angles, but he played a way I've never seen, so he's very deserving.
TVGuide.com: Knowing how the jury voted, is there anyone different you wish had been in the final three?
Sash: I played such a different game from Fabio and Chase that I thought I was going to get people's votes no matter what. I thought that one of them could have maybe garnered more votes than me, but by both of those guys going to the end, I thought they were actually going to split votes and then there could have been a possibility for me to come out on top. It didn't come out that way. I really thought people were going to vote differently, but I have no regrets. I made it to Day 39 and it was an amazing experience.
TVGuide.com: Was there anyone on the jury whose comments surprised you the most?
Sash: It really surprises me because this is a game. There are some people, Jane in particular, who tried to hit below the belt. You saw with me, the comments she made about my mother, the comments she made about Marty and his kids. It's a game. I had my game face on, but I love everyone. I don't hold any grudges. I know that they are all amazing people, but it's a shame when you see people take it to a level that's unnecessary.
TVGuide.com: You had planned to go to the final three with Chase and Holly for awhile, so how hard was it to choose who to vote out when Fabio won immunity?
Sash: I would have loved to see her, Chase and I go to the end, but unfortunately Fabio won the final immunity challenge. I could only vote for Holly or Chase, and Chase and I had an alliance on Day 1. This is a game about relationships and Chase and I had a much stronger relationship than Holly and I had. We were committed to one another on a much deeper level than Holly and I were.
TVGuide.com: There a few different times in the game when you really looked like a goner (when Brenda left, when NaOnka quit). At what point in the game were you most worried about your chances?
Sash: Well, it's kind of hard to tell on TV, but Brenda was voted out and within 24 hours, both NaOnka and Purple Kelly decided to quit the game. So within 24 hours, the three people I planned on going to final four with were out. Going to bed that night after NaOnka and Purple Kelly left, I thought I was on the bottom of the totem pole. I woke up the next morning and realized I was in a unique position. I could actually flip the game and that's when I became the most powerful person. It's interesting how in 24 hours, your entire game plan for 28 days comes crashing down. I think I did a great recovery coming back from that.