Since the beginning of Survivor: Redemption Island, Phillip Sheppard has become known for two things: his former life as a secret agent and his teeny tiny pink briefs that left very little to the imagination. So what did Julie Wolfe do when she grew tired of Phillip's ramblings and accusations? She hid his only pair of shorts. "That was probably not such a good idea to make everybody else look at him in those panties," Wolfe tells TVGuide.com. The 50-year-old firefighter also talked about Matt Elrod's struggle to survive on Redemption Island, how "Boston Rob" Mariano's alliance was "almost like a cult" and how she is doing following her house foreclosure.
Your loss in the duel was emotional, but you seemed to take it a lot better than the other losers before you. How did you stay positive?
I went on the game of Survivor for one reason: for an opportunity to get $1 million dollars because, like I said last night, my house is in foreclosure. I didn't go there to make friends, I didn't go there to be on TV or for the adventure, like most people do. I was just there for the money. I realized while I was there playing the game that I was there for a reason. After watching Matt's whole story about his faith in God, I realized why I was there and I left with a meaningful relationship with God, which is worth way more than a million dollars. So I knew when I left that I was going to be OK and that God was going to take care of me, and all the stress was lifted so I was happy and looking forward to eating and brushing my teeth.
Last night's episode showed Matt's struggle with his faith and his struggle to stay in the competition. Did you know he was having such a hard time on Redemption Island?
I did not realize what a tough time Matt was having until I actually got there. I was trying to cheer him up and it just wasn't happening. He was so embarrassed by having faith in his tribe, and I was telling him, 'Matt, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Your family, your church and everybody is so proud of you and how you played this game. You have nothing to be ashamed of.' And hopefully that lifted him a little bit, but he was really struggling by the time I got to Redemption Island. I felt terrible that Ometepe sent him back to Redemption Island.
When you left Redemption Island, did you predict he would be able to overcome that struggle or did you see him leaving the island soon?
What I saw was a kid who had so much faith in his God that he was ready to leave the game. He felt he had already done his job and he was OK with not winning. Once again, he won that challenge and he knew that whatever God has planned for me, I'm just going to follow. But he mentioned to me that he was ready to leave, physically and emotionally. But it obviously wasn't in the cards for him yet.
Wednesday was the first time viewers heard about your house being in foreclosure. Did all of the players know that and did you try to use the information to your advantage at all?
My whole tribe, they all knew my financial situation and I was using that as a strategy to get them to feel sorry for me. The truth is, like so many Americans, we're all going through this financial crisis and I just wanted America to know, 'Hey, you're not by yourself. We'll get through this.' My tribe knew about my financial difficulties. I had just gone through a divorce, and they knew all that. I was just financially in a bad spot.
How is everything going now?
Mike is a realtor and he gave me some advice. He said, 'As much as you don't want to, go ahead and file for bankruptcy.' When I got home, I realized I had no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Right now, I am paying back what I owe and I'm alright. I'm fortunate. I'm doing much, much better now.
One of your big moments on the show was hiding Phillip's shorts. Those shorts left a lot to be desired, so why did you decide to hide them and force everyone to see Phillip that exposed?
Now that you say that, that was probably not such a good idea to make everybody else look at him in those panties. He actually wanted the attention. He had the choice of going to tribal in his jeans and he chose to wear those disgusting underwear. I was just trying to get back at him for being so crazy and starting all the tension on our tribe. Obviously, it didn't work.
So you attribute a lot of the tension in the game to Phillip?
I would say that 90 percent of the tension going on in the tribe was Phillip. He was a lunatic and I really believe he really is like that outside of the game, too. When he started the race tension at camp, it was very uncomfortable. It was a horrible atmosphere. The other 10 percent I'm going to put on Rob. It was very frustrating living with these people and a couple of them, like Grant and Ashley, I really, really liked, and Rob didn't let them eat the fish that we had caught. I was so frustrated with that strategy because you can tell a person how to vote and how to play the game, but really these are human beings that are starving. Don't tell them that they can't eat.
The last two members of your tribe were voted out of the game Wednesday. Do you think there's anything you or other members of your alliance could have done to get in more with Rob's group?
It was very frustrating, but once the old Ometepe tribe had sent Matt back to Redemption Island, we knew there was not much we were going to be able to do to break their barrier. That alliance was almost like a cult. I tried a couple times to make a female alliance and it was just not happening. We knew that, one at a time, we were going to get voted off. They were just not having it.