Before Survivor: Palau's Jeff Wilson twisted his ankle — by tripping over a coconut during a late-night bathroom break — he was one of the Ulong tribe's strongest members. But after that new injury flared up an old wound, the 21-year-old California boy asked his tribe mates to send him home. Not everyone agreed with his selfless decision — some even regarded it with suspicion — although Jeff insisted it would take his ankle weeks to heal. Here, TVGuide.com gets face time with the studly personal trainer to ask why he threw in the towel.
TVGuide.com: Have you fully recovered from your ankle injury?
Jeff Wilson: I'm better than I was. Painwise, I'd say about 95 percent.
TVG: How'd you injure your ankle the first time?
Jeff: I got run over by a truck. I broke my back and my pelvis and my ankle. I had stretched-out ligaments and tendons.
TVG: Ouch! You said you knew it would take weeks to heal. Did it take that long?
Jeff: It did.
TVG: No regrets about asking to be voted off?
Jeff: It was the right decision. Had I stayed in and tried to muscle it out and people were going home [in my stead], how great would that have been?
TVG: That's such a team attitude. Most Survivor players are more selfish.
Jeff: I've always been in athletics, so I'm competitive, but I do know how to work with a team. I know this game isn't about that, but at the beginning, it is about that. In my head, I knew that I wasn't going to be good, and I knew we'd probably go to tribal council again because I wouldn't be able to pull my weight. I saw the inevitable.
TVG: How'd you feel when some resisted going along with your plan?
Jeff: I don't take offense to it; it is actually nice that they [felt] compelled to keep me there. It is their opinion and everyone is entitled to their own. If people wanted Kim off, that's fine with me, too.
TVG: Really? Even though Kim was your cuddle buddy?
Jeff: Fine with me. It is a game. I wasn't going to be heartbroken if she went home, and I told her not to be if I did. It's a game, and the longest it lasts is 40 days.
TVG: Are you still friendly with her?
Jeff: Yeah. [Grins]
TVG: Is there something more between you?
Jeff: At this point, she still lives in Ohio, so...
TVG: So maybe you'd date in the future?
Jeff: [Smiles again] I don't see why not.
TVG: Will you ever eat coconuts again?
Jeff: Probably not for a while. I should have saved it as a souvenir, walking around with a big old coconut on the plane like Flavor Flav [with his clocks] on The Surreal Life. Plus, those things are brutal to eat. [Coconut] is a natural laxative. You eat no food, and the only thing you drink and eat is that. It's like, "Oh, food, good, um... I'll be right back."
TVG: Think you would've won if you hadn't been injured?
Jeff: I don't want to say that I would make it to the end, because that makes me sound arrogant, but I do think I probably would have gone pretty far.
Jeff: In the [reward] challenge last week, we won the cloth. And in that [sewing kit] was a band of elastic. I basically used that as an Ace bandage. You don't see me wearing it because when I went to tribal council, I thought I was going home and I didn't want to take it from them.
TVG: There's that team spirit again.
Jeff: Well... if there was anything they would have needed, it was probably going to be that.
TVG: You seem so personable... was there anyone you didn't get along with?
Jeff: No. I think because they are such extreme personalities, you kind of have to take yourself out of your normal realm and make your tolerance level a little bit higher. Everybody's got an attitude. Tom's from New York and I've never really hung out with someone from New York before, but I've heard stories.
Jeff: They are all true! They are all p----d-off people.
TVG: I'm a New Yorker. I'm not angry.
Jeff: I've seen this 10 times today. You all smile while you are inside, but look at anybody outside [in the streets] and they are all ticked off.
TVG: You're a personal trainer. Did anyone ask you for tips?
Jeff: Yeah, they all did. Someone would do something and they'd be like, "Oh, I hurt my back." I'd be like, "You need to do this." I think everybody's career came into play a little bit.
TVG: You're a good-looking guy. Hoping to get any modeling gigs?
Jeff: Yeah, I'd love it, but I don't count my chickens before they hatch. I'd like it to happen, but if it doesn't, I'm not going to take my own life because of it.