John Powell – GobalTV.com
Michael Yerger may have been the youngest person to ever play Survivor but you would never know it. A rookie player, Michael’s tactics, resourcefulness and his will to survive rated with the very best players. He was the MacGyver of Survivor: Ghost Island. How does he feel about those comparisons? He is truly shocked and surprised.
“I am so unbelievably humbled. I don’t necessarily think I am deserving of some of the stuff people are saying. I have obviously grown up watching the show and I have so much respect for the players out there that have played this amazing game. Of course, I was the underdog and I never really got into those power positions so getting some of the feedback feels very undeserving and not necessary, but it is very nice,” he said.
One of the moves Michael will be remembered for is how caused chaos in the Naviti Alliance by just claiming he had a hidden immunity idol.
“I was surprised that Kellyn [Bechtold] bought it so quickly given that I kind of bluffed with the other idol. Part of the reason why she read into it a little more is because I had a pretty developed story behind the idol I had supposedly found. That was because I had helped Donathan Hurley find his second half and I knew which idol it was. I really had the full backstory to explain to her so I think that she just kinda of believed me and she didn’t want to have to worry about it because tribal was coming up and she was worried that her head was on the chopping block. The urgency was kind of fortunate and on my side. I was under the impression that my plan to work with her and Laurel to blindside Wendell [Holland] was going to work but I was surprised at how much chaos was at tribal because it was all built on a measly lie. I was proud of the suspense at tribal and I am proud of the way I went out. It was so close! If I had just put my vote on Laurel!” he said regretfully as he reviewed his time on the series.
John Powell: As Survivor fan it must have been horrendous to be constantly be behind in the numbers and not really be able to make any big offensive moves.
Michael Yerger: “One hundred percent. Survivor has two different worlds. There is the strategy that you are putting out in the game and that is coupled with fate. Then, there is the strategy of all the other players. It is a really hard mix and that is what makes the social experience so big. That being said, the fate part of it probably wasn’t on my side for a lot of the game. Being in those minority alliances and losing immunity so many times over and over again really gave me a hard run. I also kept losing the people that I was building bonds with and forming alliances with. It was hard to build any traction. My game was very much trying to save my own skin and trying to fit my fat head into a small box, trying to make it one day at a time.”
John Powell: Were you surprised by Donathan’s decision and what was your plan if he had given you the idol?
Michael Yerger: “I mean they obviously can’t always show full conversations but if Donathan had given me the idol would I have screwed him by playing it? That by no means was my intention at all. He had told me when he found the idol…’Listen, Michael I’m willing to play this for you to get a big blindside to keep Malolo going.’ That is why I didn’t think it was inappropriate to ask him for a favour. I just needed half. Something to flash at Domenick Abbate to let him know I wasn’t going anywhere.”
John Powell: Speaking of Dom, he stood up and shook your hand after you were voted out. Did that recognition take away some of the sting of losing?
Michael Yerger: “Yeah, that was huge for me especially when it came to my closure with the whole thing. I really put a lot of real effort into connecting with him and not just to pass the time. I really bonded with people. For me and Dom and me and Wendell to go head-to-head and it was the end of the road, gamers respect gamers. I lost fair and square. I was pleased to receive that kind of farewell.”
John Powell: Did you eventually reveal your true age to the other castaways and what was their reaction?
Michael Yerger: “I never really had that big reveal when I let the cat out of the bag. My thing with this game is I really didn’t want to be like…’Oh, you know Michael played a good game for an eighteen-year-old.’ I wanted it to be…’You know Michael played a good game and he happens to be eighteen.’ That was kind of my reasoning. I didn’t want that to be my theme or associated with me. I kind of let it happen how it did. I told Libby [Vincek] because I felt that I owed that to her. I told Jenna [Bowman] as we got so close. I told Chris [Noble] too. We are good buddies. After Ponderosa it trickled through the grapevine. There were texts here and there. The response was great! Everybody was very kind to me. Kellyn was hysterical! She wanted a birth certificate. She wouldn’t believe me.” (Laughs)
John Powell: Was there anything you wish the producers would have included in your edit?
Michael Yerger: “That’s a good question. I think a lot of the beginning of the game. I mean having a season with twenty people it is really hard to fit that many conversations about strategy and camp life and all that but I am still such a sucker for all the elemental things about Survivor, what it was built on. The camp life, the cooking, the scavenging, the building, it all brings me back to when I first watched the show. I would have really liked to see some of the early part of our camp life where we were all getting to know each other and just have a good time. I know that is not essential to the game but those are some of the best memories I had out there.”
Watch Survivor: Ghost Island Wednesdays at 8 et/pt on Global.