On Wednesday's Survivor: One World, 25-year-old model Jay Byars sealed his fate by voluntarily eliminating himself from the immunity challenge. The contestants each had one arm bound to a bucket filled with a paint-like substance — drop your arm and spill the paint, you're out. In classic Survivor style, Jeff Probst tempted the players to give up with assorted food items, including burgers, chips, candy, cupcakes (that didn't look remotely appealing), and cookies.
But when Probst brought out the big guns — chicken wings and beer! — Jay became powerless to the poultry. However, the South Carolina native tells TVGuide.com his forfeit had nothing to do with the food. "It wasn't because I was starved. I told myself not to, but then I ended up doing it because I thought I was safe," Jay says. "I stabbed myself in the foot."
That's a $1 million understatement if we've ever heard one. See what else Jay told us about the competition in the interview below.
TVGuide.com: How much does it sting having to relive that experience all over again?
Jay: I'm depressed and replaying day 25 in my head over and over and over again. Time has helped the process, but it definitely brought up some hard feelings yesterday.
We have to talk about that immunity challenge. Did you really want the chicken wings that bad? You could have easily won!
Jay: I never thought in a million years I would step down for food. The only reason I stepped down from that challenge is because I literally didn't think it would be me. I thought I would look like less of a threat. And I thought that I was safe and could trust the people that I was working closest with. I got played.
So you were obviously blindsided at tribal council.
Jay: I thought they would come for me at some point, but I didn't think that I would be the first one.
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Who did you think it would be?
Jay: I thought they wouldn't mind kicking Alicia or Christina off. Alicia seemed to be a little more strategic and Christina was dead weight.
What was the first thing you did after you got eliminated?
Jay: When I walked up to Ponderosa [the Survivor jury house], Mike and Jonas had these huge brownies waiting for me and a whole table of food. I ate way too much!
How different was it spending time with them when you didn't have the pressure of the game on your mind?
Jay: We felt like this pressure was lifted off our backs, and I could finally breathe and just be me. When you're in the game... I didn't feel like I could be me 100 percent. So even though you are building relationships, it was really cool to learn who people really are outside the game.
Did you do anything to prepare for the show when you found out you were cast?
Jay: As soon as I found out, I started working out like a mad man. I was relatively small and really cut up from modeling, but I knew I wanted to be as big and strong as possible. So I put on like 24 pounds.
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And how much did you lose by the end?
Jay: By the time I left I think I lost about 20 to 25 pounds.
What surprised you the most about being on the show?
Jay: On Day 1 when we pulled up in the truck and Jeff said it was going to be guys versus girls, I was like, "Are you freaking kidding me?" I never expected that. It never even crossed my mind.
Do you think you were portrayed fairly?
Jay: I didn't go and make a fool of myself. Sometimes reality TV can hurt you. But Survivor is extremely well-respected and I tried to play with honesty and class, and I think I was portrayed in a positive light.
Are you getting recognized back in South Carolina?
Jay: Believe it or not, before the show even aired I was on the news because somebody saw a leak on the Internet. I was an hour and half away from home in a toboggan, wearing a coat and sunglasses. I took my glasses off and this young kid was like, "Man you're that dude on Survivor!" And I was like, "How in the world do you even know? It hasn't even aired yet." At that point I realized, "I need to start getting used to this." It's still weird for somebody to ask me for an autograph. It's just awkward. I'm still the same guy I was before the show.
Survivor: One World airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.