'Survivor: Philippines' Competitor Jeff Kent on His Elimination: 'I'm Bitter, and I'm Ticked Off'
The retired MLB player talks to THR about the madness of tribal council, the big idol reveals, his perceived "obsession" with Jonathan Penner and staying mostly anonymous throughout the game.
Jeff Kent became the latest Survivor to be voted out of the Philippines edition in a tribal council that Jeff Probst called the most "complicated and entertaining" in the show's 25 seasons.
Upon his elimination, a visibly angry Kent, a 44-year-old retired MLB player from Austin, Texas, also became the second member of the jury, joining RC Saint-Amour.
The episode featured a lot of scrambling at camp -- and later during tribal council -- during which nearly everyone's names were mentioned as potential vote-getters, leading to a very unpredictable result.
Complicating matters further were the admissions by both Malcolm Freberg and Abi-Maria Gomes during tribal council that they were in possession of hidden immunity idols: Malcolm's hand was forced since Lisa Whelchel had revealed he had the idol and he was on the chopping block, while Abi seemingly just got caught up in the moment after Probst asked if anyone else had an idol they wanted to reveal.
On Thursday, the day after his elimination episode aired, Kent talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the madness of tribal council, the big idol reveals, his perceived "obsession" with returning player Jonathan Penner and his anonymity throughout the game.
The Hollywood Reporter: So how are you doing?
Jeff Kent: I'm bitter, and I'm ticked off (laughs).
THR: You seemed really angry at the end of last night's episode after being voted out. After some time has passed now, are you still upset?
Kent: I hate to lose; that's my problem. And putting so much effort into something and being at the losing end, it sucks. And there's always coulda-shoulda. I wish things were different, but at the end of the day, I'm here and everybody else still on TV.
THR: I watched tribal council twice, and I'm not even sure I understand everything that went down because it was so crazy. Can you explain?
Kent: It was pretty crazy. It started actually about 15 minutes before tribal, where we were scrambling on the beach trying to figure out who was going home because the scenario kept changing. Always in my mind, it was Penner and if he got immunity, then [Michael] Skupin would be the one to go. I think Denise [Stapley] scrambled and figured out someone else to go, and I didn't realize she had a tight alliance with Skupin. But it turned out that my name and Malcolm's and Pete's [Yurkowski] all got thrown out there as potential people to vote out. I found out about 15 minutes before tribal that I was going to be voted out, but I tried to do everything I could to make sure that would not happen. I thought Pete was out; I thought we had six votes. I wasn't so sure about Skupin. But at tribal council, everybody aired their laundry, and Penner said let's vote this way [for Pete], and everybody agreed. But it came down to Skupin's vote against me and Penner threw his vote out there [voting for Abi instead], and still to this day I have no idea why he threw his vote.
THR: He was the one who was rallying everyone to vote for Pete at tribal council. Do you have any theory as to why he voted for Abi? That vote effectively ensured that you were the one voted out. [Kent received five votes, versus four for Pete and one for Abi].
Kent: I gotta think he believed that Skupin would vote for Pete to get out, and in that there were [enough] votes. Maybe he thought that if Pete used [Abi's] immunity idol, then Penner would be able to go to Pete saying, "Look, I didn't vote for you."
THR: It seemed like nearly every Survivor had their names thrown out as potential targets.
Kent: Yeah, except Denise and Artis [Silvester] and maybe Carter [Williams], too. It all ended up being the quiet people who didn't do too much in the game that were the ones who were not talked about. Denise did a lot in the game, but ended up going with the flow, and so were Carter and Artis. They weren't making anybody mad, they weren't talking strategy; they were just saying, "Whatever, go do it."
THR: What do you think about Malcolm's and Abi's decision to reveal their hidden immunity idols?
Kent: I thought it was perfect what Malcolm did. I was sitting there laughing. He showed the idol, everybody knows he's got it. I thought that was great. He threatened everybody with that idol, which was awesome, because as stupid as everybody was sitting on that bench, other than a few of us, we knew at that time that the smart people would not vote for Malcolm. But I knew Malcolm was smart enough not to use it, and I didn't even look at him. He was saying, "If you get in my face, I'll get in your face more." Abi got sucked into it. It was not a very smart move on her part. I think everybody knew that one of them had it, either Abi or Pete, but we didn't know which one was in control of it. I knew personally that if Abi had it, she would not share it.
THR: Why were you gunning for Penner so much?
Kent: It was perceived that way. A lot had to do with the fact that they were returning players. But Penner and I had an alliance that was pretty strong, and I was using Penner for two things: One, to say, "Everybody else, don't look at me, look at Penner. Don't talk about me; Penner is the best player; focus on him." The strategy was to take pressure off of me to stay on Survivor longer. I liked everybody; everybody got along with me. The second thing was, I wanted to stay one step ahead of the best player out there. I thought, if he was the best, then I would be one step closer to winning Sole Survivor. But I went out of my way to tell Penner that everyone was coming after him and that he should use his idol [at the previous tribal council]. I wanted to use Penner -- and Skupin -- and I tried every angle I could to keep going forward, but it didn't work out. I was perceived to be so obsessed with him when in truth, I wasn't. I was using them as tools.
THR: After the vote, Jeff Probst said the vote might go down as "one of the biggest blown opportunities in the history of this game." How do you interpret that?
Kent: Finally, the Kalabaw tribe had an alliance, and we didn't have one at the last tribal council. This time, with Skupin and Penner, we had an opportunity to get ourselves in a strong alliance and get rid of Tandang. The numbers were in our favor, and we didn't take advantage of that, and I think that proved the stupidity of Skupin.
THR: Did you have any plans to reveal your true identity?
Kent: I really enjoyed .just playing the game, and being like everybody else without having my past history or job affect the results in the game. I was grateful it never came up. I imagine people figured out who I was when they got home.
THR: [Previously eliminated contestant Sarah] Dawson is the only one who recognized you. She told THR she had a conversation with you that wasn't shown on TV in which she confronted you about it and tried to form an alliance with you.
Kent: That proves how out-there she is. We never had that conversation. I never knew she knew who I was. We had conversations about sports and baseball and Chipper Jones, and she never let on she knew who I was or anything I was. She never even asked if I liked baseball. We never had that conversation. That was one of the reasons why she was voted out -- the fact that she was a little out-there.
THR: Did you recognize [former Facts of Life star] Lisa?
Kent: I had an intuition she was somebody, but I had no clue who she was, if she was somebody.
THR: Why did you apply to the show?
Kent: It was a great opportunity. I was a fan of the show and liked the concept and thought it was the best reality TV show out there. It's not cheesy, and they do a great job of putting it all together. And I'm a competitor and I love to compete. I had the opportunity, and I jumped on it.