Up until this past week, the cute young studs on Survivor: Vanuatu were easy pickings for the Lopevi tribe's testosterone-fueled cohort of five not-as-buff (and probably bitter) older men. However, their alliance was derailed when a tribal shake-up caused Rory and Travis "Bubba" Sampson to join the mostly-female Yasur bunch. This new coed sitch hurt the 33-year-old Bubba, especially when Ami caught him scheming with his old Lopevi boys and booted him for disloyalty. Here, Bob Barker's No. 1 fan tells TV Guide Online all about his odd moniker, his fight with Chad and his Survivor diet.
TV Guide Online: Do you prefer to be called Bubba or Travis?
Travis: Either way. I don't mind, but let's go with Travis because that's what my mom calls me. And if Mom's happy, everybody is happy.
TVGO: Where did Bubba come from?
Travis: When I was in third grade, I got in a fight with this bully [who] had a speech impediment. He was trying to say "Come on, brother," but he kept going, "Come on, Bubba." The next day at school, I thought everybody was going to be like, "Hey! Travis beat up the bully."' But it wasn't like that. They kept saying, "Hey, Bubba." It stuck.
TVGO: How'd your tribemates find out about it?
Travis: We were talking about nicknames with CBS, and Jeff Probst said, Would you prefer Bubba or Travis? I said, "It don't matter." Anytime I tell people it don't matter, they just automatically go with Bubba.
TVGO: Why'd you wear that Bob Barker shirt?
Travis: When I was growing up me and my grandfather watched The Price Is Right, and I've got a lot of fond memories of watching [it] with him. Havin' that shirt was like my family couldn't be with me, but he could be with me in spirit. We just hee-hawed when [contestants] would jump up on that stage and just pick him up. We'd just die laughin'. That was just hilarious. I would just like to shake Bob Barker's hand someday and say, "Thanks for the joy and thanks for the memories."
TVGO: Was it hard for you as a coach when Sarge took control?
Travis: Yeah, Sarge took control, but we kind of pushed him in that direction. If he is good enough to lead our troops, he is good enough to lead us.
TVGO: Were you upset that the female-dominated Yasurs voted you off?
Travis: I had a great time playing the game, and the ladies are playing it brilliantly. I got caught [scheming], but I already knew I was going home. Everyone knew it was either me or Rory. I felt like I was going up against a brick wall. I had nothing to lose, so why hide it?
TVGO: But it backfired!
Travis: How did it backfire? I was going home anyway.
TVGO: You and Chad had a blowup around the fire. Was one spot really better, or was that a myth?
Travis: I think that is a myth because anybody that lives on the ocean knows that the wind is constantly changing. It depends on what time of the night. So I thought that was crazy. Chad went to Sarge and said, "He's sleeping in the same spot." I told him, "If [Chad] ain't gonna come up and tell me himself, then he can build a bridge and get over it." Chad said, "I tried tellin' you and I do not recall." If you don't throw down, I ain't movin'.
TVGO: Did you get along with Chad otherwise?
Travis: That wasn't a big issue. The one time me and him had little words, it was on the show. Me and Chad were great. There were a lot of nights we laid and talked on what they called a beach — it was more like broke shells and coral. I really want my children to meet Chad. They play sports and they are always making excuses about why they can't do this or that. I'm like, "Hello, let me introduce you to Chad [who has only one leg]. He don't make excuses, he gets results." He's an inspiration.
TVGO: Would you ever do Survivor again?
Travis: I enjoy competing. I love it, but no, I don't think I'd ever do it again. I won't ever leave my family that long again.
TVGO: Well, you look great now. Maybe you should market the Survivor diet.
Travis: When I started the game, I weighed about 230. I lost 25 lbs. Now that I am off the show, I've lost an additional 10 lbs. Once you get this momentum, [you want to] keep going with it and I did. So if people want to refer to [our alliance] as the "fat five," that is fine. I was fat and I was happy and I didn't think there was anything wrong with it.