By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
Brandon Donlon had more ups and downs during his handful of day on Survivor than most castaways. Somehow though, he persevered and recovered only to be voted out as a weak link on the swiftly sinking Lulu tribe. What happened out on the island and why? Brandon has the details.
John Powell: How have you been having to watch back everything back last night?
Brandon Donlon: I felt so good after getting home. The past month has been pretty hard just like thinking about things. I’m really bad at anticipation. I don’t like anticipation. That part has been rough but watching it? It’s hard to believe I’m watching my dream come true. I’m watching me on the show and it’s funny. I am so glad that like my whole arc, my two episodes are funny. It’s like it’s a funny series of events. I’ll take that. I am so beyond blessed to be able to do any of this. This is like crazy and cool.
John Powell: Now your troubles began right from the start and the whole incident with the ship. A lot of people don’t understand or maybe don’t appreciate what anxiety can do to you. So could explain what happened at the time and what happened afterwards because you have to be seen by medical, didn’t you?
Brandon Donlon: Yes. So, we jump off the boat. Batting a thousand, the swim is great. Jeff says Brandon and Sean (Edwards) are the only people without a paddle. We’re doing so good. We were doing great.
I grabbed on to the rung of the ladder everybody stepped on. I grabbed on the stepping ladder so then I stepped out of boat and put my foot lower than the boat like an awkward angle down. Where I was the weight was distributed weird and then I fell.
I am not your body builder. I am a guy who is just off the couch. I’m just like you. Not you specifically. I’m not just like John Powell or maybe I am? I don’t know. I have wet clothes, sneakers in the ocean. There’s no bottom rung. It was hearing Jeff (Probst) yell at me hearing my tribe wondering where I am…I’ve had panic attacks before not hundreds but I’ve had them but this was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I am pulling with all of the muscle that I have…You will not believe how many things I lifted before I left here. I really prepared for “muscle things”. I guess not that much because I call it a “muscle thing”. I pull so hard up this ladder and I don’t move, John. I don’t move an inch. I don’t move an inch of the ladder.
I couldn’t move my hands as much. I feel myself like shutting down. I’m hyperventilating. Sean (Edwards) comes back down and there is the beautiful shot of our hands. Props to the Survivor cinematography team! We get up on the boat. I crawl to the mat. I put my f—–g hand down on the thing. I just blackout. I don’t remember anything beyond getting up. You see me kind of do a tumble right off the ladder. I remember that.
After that, medical comes over. I was laying for like 20 minutes. My heartbeat was like 170 when they came over. Now granted, the whole time this is happening Jeff (Probst) is like making sure like I’m good. It was not challenge-stopping worthy or else they would have stopped the challenge. Medical comes over and granted I don’t remember that. This was told to me secondhand but Dr. Joe (Joe Rowles), who’s a Survivor doctor, said: ‘Brandon is in no physical danger but he’s having a panic attack a that is making him think he’s going to die.’ I was asking if I was going to die. I thought I was having a heart attack.
So Jeff (Probst) was asking me like Survivor trivia questions to get my heart rate down, which is very much appreciated. I cannot thank the Survivor medical team enough. They were fantastic. They made me feel at ease.
I remember Jeff (Probst) came over to me afterwards, he’s like: Dude, you had a bad start but listen, you’re going to go back and this is the hand you were dealt. Let’s see what you do with it.
I deflect with humour…I thought if I can go there (camp) and make a couple of jokes I think it’s going to be cool. So, that’s what I did. It worked pretty well.
John Powell: You didn’t go for the first advantage, which I wouldn’t have gone for either, but then you went for the second one. What was the thinking behind that? Was it just the kind of challenge that you thought you could do well at?
Brandon Donlon: I would never have done that had I not thought that I could do it. I really thought that I could. It’s a matching game. You can get one at Kohl’s for a kid. It’s not a hard thing. I do not perform well under pressure. I’m not a pressure guy…I am not making excuses at all for my poor challenge. I’m bad at challenges. Some people aren’t good at challenges. Some Survivor greats aren’t good at Survivor challenges, right?
I will say that I think that the initial challenge kind of got in my head and I was just more frazzled than I would have been doing any challenge…I should have gone back and checked my work. I didn’t do that. Like I had the three numbers that could have only been six combinations. So, I do all six combinations. They all don’t work and then I just go back and do them again.
Drew is a gifted puzzle solver. You see him in the puzzles. Drew knows his puzzles. I thought I knew my puzzles. Maybe it’s the Ivy League education, who knows? I practised puzzles before I left. I knew I had to do puzzles.
John Powell: What was your plan going into tribal because it seemed to be quite clear that it was either you or Emily on the chopping block?
Brandon Donlon: Kaleb kind of took Emily under his wing and nurtured that relationship, kind of giving her PR training. I was banking on Emily tanking at Tribal Council. She took his advice though. I don’t want to give 100 per cent credit to Kaleb as Emily really implemented the advice that she was given and she did it perfectly…I was hoping that during the discourse of Tribal Council, Emily would go for the jugular and then I could kind of just sit there be like: ‘Hey, if you want somebody who might you know not be great at these things then I’ll be here.’ I was hoping for a situation like that. It ultimately didn’t pan out but that’s I was hoping for Emily to kind of tank.
John Powell: After going through everything that you went through you still kept saying that you were having the time of your life? How is that possible all things considered?
Brandon Donlon: It was the best five days of my life and it will be the best five days for a very long time! I cannot believe I got to do any part of it…It’s my favorite thing in the world and it has been my favorite thing in the world for my whole life…I wanted to win. I really wanted to win but at a certain point, it didn’t matter. I was on f—–g Survivor! It’s the coolest thing in the world…I got to and fully and authentically live my childhood dream, which not a lot of people could say. It doesn’t matter how bad you do. It just matters that you had fun. I’m telling you the most fun I’ve ever had.