'Survivor: Philippines': Zane Knight Explains the Strategy That Backfired

The 28-year-old from Danville, Va., was the first contestant eliminated on the show's 25th season.
Monty Brinton/CBS

Zane Knight was the first contestant voted off Survivor: Philippines on Wednesday night's episode, but he says he has no hard feelings about it.

"At the end of the day, if you can't walk away from the game and say how awesome it is, you didn't play the game right," Knight told The Hollywood Reporter.

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The 28-year-old from Danville, Va., who works in tire repair, separately made alliances with every one of his five fellow Matsing tribe members, struggled during the immunity challenge -- quipping that he had quit smoking the day the game started -- and hatched a plan to tell his tribe that he should be voted off, hoping they would instead decide to vote returning contestant Russell Swan off and Knight would then find out whether he was actually in control of the game. But that strategy, of course, backfired.

Still, Knight says he doesn't regret that plan.

"That was the plan from the jump," he said. "As soon as we lost the challenge, I knew what was going to happen. We were going to go back to the beach, and Russelll would have his little talk, and we would run away from each other for the rest of the day. Nobody wanted to go home. I said, I know we have to vote somebody out, and let it be me.' I just wanted to put everything at ease with everybody else."

He said the plan was actually working until the players got to tribal council, where Swan, who had angered several members of the tribe during the immunity challenge by assigning them to tasks that didn't play to their strengths, "put his puppy dog on" and pleaded his case, Knight said.

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"Everybody in their minds were thinking, 'He was good enough to [sacrifice] himself for us, we need to keep him as part of our tribe,' " Knight added. "When we got to tribal and Russ threw himself at the mercy of the court, and he was like, 'Give me one more chance. I'll change, I'm sorry.' In the back of everybody's minds, they thought, 'The boy did ask for it. Zane did say, "Put me out." ' I think I put too much sauce on it and made it a little too convenient that I wanted to leave. They took the easy way out."

The only regret he has is letting fellow competitors Swan and Malcolm Freberg in on the fact that he had already established alliances with their female tribemates Roxy Morris, Denise Stapley and Angie Layton.

Knight added that it was hard watching that -- and other parts -- of the show. 
"I almost threw my beer at the TV twice," he said. "Seeing me walk up to Malcom and Russ and going, 'I already got an alliance with the chicks.' Why did I say that? Where did that come from?"

For Knight, the hardest thing about the game was being away from his wife, but he's been a fan of the show, and getting to take part was surreal. He actually applied for the show on a dare from his wife.

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"To be able to grab your torch, have your own buff and meeting Jeff Probst, just being a part of the whole thing that is Survivor was the coolest thing for me," he added. "I can't wait to see how the rest of the season goes."