From the outset of Survivor: Guatemala, the Nakum tribe seemed strong, winning the first reward challenge by beating Yaxha to the plum campsite, but many of their men soon began to falter, including the first ousted, Jim Lynch. The 63-year-old fire captain led his team through the jungle — without the help of MapQuest, mind you — and plugged along while others got injured or dehydrated. Yet during the first immunity challenge, Jim tore a muscle in his arm, an injury from which he wasn't able to bounce back. TVGuide.com spoke with the dogged competitor about his brief island experience and that cute commercial that featured his wife.
TVGuide.com: How is your arm now?
Jim Lynch: It's not very good. The biceps muscle was torn. Most people know about [tearing] an Achilles tendon, and this is the same thing, only it is in your arm. They don't heal quickly, especially when you are 63 years old.
TVGuide.com: I loved your wife's commercial at the end of the episode.
Lynch: Didn't you like that? That was a surprise to me, because I didn't know that she'd done that.
TVGuide.com: So she can keep a secret!
Lynch: She can keep one probably better than I can.
TVGuide.com: It was a little sad to see you be the first one out.
Lynch: You weren't as disappointed as I was. But I had to expect that. With those [physical] challenges, in my mind, I have to think maybe it is best. I could have injured my arm worse, or I could have injured the other arm. The challenges aren't going to get any easier.
TVGuide.com: True. What did you think of the 11-mile trek through the jungle?
Lynch: I held up pretty well. The thing that doesn't come across on television — unless you looked at my sweaty head — was the fact that the humidity was 92 percent and it was 115 degrees. You can't project that into people's homes when they are sitting on their couches sucking down their ice-cold lemonade or whatever. It was grueling. The only thing that would come close to that was when I was in hazmat response — you work in those suits on a hot day and you wind up standing in like, four inches of your own body sweat.
TVGuide.com: Do you think you were more prepared than others?
Lynch: I guess I knew it would be grueling. We weren't going to Guatemala to pick bananas!
TVGuide.com: What did you think of your team?
Lynch: For the most part, I thought they were just great. Most of them were 40 years my junior. I'm used to working with young kids at the fire department, because we get new kids all the time and I was responsible for breaking some of them in to on-the-job training. I related well to the young kids and Margaret. Frankly, I wasn't there long enough to get to know a lot of them.
TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of Survivor beforehand?
Lynch: From the very get-go. From [Richard] Hatch on. I pay my taxes... though I [don't have to] pay any on [winnings from] this show, I'll tell you that much. But I was a big fan.
TVGuide.com: What was your strategy? Did you have a favorite player you wanted to emulate?
Lynch: I knew that I was probably going to be my own person and zeroed in [on] as one of the leaders. Before I finished the hike people were looking at the back of my head burning holes into it, thinking, "Are we lost?" We never were lost, but to bring on that air of leadership was where I wanted to come from. I'd be the provider kind of guy. I had no illusions about how far I could go. Nobody my age has ever gone very far.
TVGuide.com: What about Rudy Boesch?
Lynch: Yeah, but he didn't win anything. You are talking about a different situation. That was standing on a peg in a lagoon with a breeze blowing.
TVGuide.com: Why did you vote for Margaret?
Lynch: It was a contrived thing. We knew that I had to vote for somebody; I couldn't vote for myself, and I couldn't abstain. So we got seven pieces of yellow corn and one piece of black corn and she picked the black one. It wasn't anything personal.
TVGuide.com: I was surprised, because she sort of saved some of your teammates with her nursing skills.
Lynch: It kind of looked like she did, but you can't save people by pouring water on their heads. You can save them by giving them an IV, and [on Survivor] you just don't have the resources. That is not to take anything away from her. I frankly didn't want her working on me because it was a derogatory kind of situation for me to have somebody working on me. I'd rather do it myself.
TVGuide.com: You seem very independent.
Lynch: Oh, yeah.
TVGuide.com: Would you ever do anything like this again?
Lynch: Sure, if my arm was healed up. How many chances do you get to trek like that, where the prize is to live in the Mayan ruins where nobody has lived since the original people 2000 years ago? There are only nine people who did that and ever will do it. It was an adventure, and it was fun.