So close, yet so far. If Kelley Wentworth had survived just one more Tribal Council she likely would have won Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance. Yet that is exactly why she didn’t get there, as eventual winner Jeremy Collins sent her to the jury before defeating Spencer Bledsoe and Tasha Fox in the finals.
Kelley showed her prowess in all three phases of the game, but it wasn’t enough. The fourth place finisher called into Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) this morning to talk with me and co-host Jessica Shaw about what could have been, her skill as a fake immunity idol builder, losing more weight than anyone else, and whether she will play again. She also sheds some light from her perspective on why Spencer got blanked in the final vote.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I have been pitching the producers for years to hide idols at challenges and then I was lucky enough to be out there to see it play out in person when you found it at that first challenge. You found my idol, Kelley!
KELLEY WENTWORTH: I did. Just for you, just for you.
How stressful was that?
What you saw on TV is exactly what it was. I was looking back and looking back, and it was that stressful. I can’t even describe it. I got it though, so there you go.
Usually at the reunion, Jeff Probst asks what would’ve happened if the finale had been between this person and this person, and I was so curious what would’ve happened if you had been in the finals. Did you do any kind of informal polling to see if maybe you would’ve won?
Oh man, that’s such a bummer to think about. I do feel like I had a good chance if I went to the end, even with Jeremy. I tried to throughout the game make sure that I interacted with the jury and looked at them and constantly made them feel involved in what was going on. So I think it would’ve been a showdown for sure if I was there with Jeremy. And if I wasn’t there with him, I definitely would’ve won the whole thing. So it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is.
I think you’re being a little modest here. It sounds weird to say because Jeremy won 10-0, but Kelley, I’ve done the math and I know you have too. I know you’ve done the math and talked to people, and I think you get at least six votes if you’re in there finals with Jeremy, right?
Yeah, you’re probably right. Yeah, yeah.
That’s gotta be hard. You’re so close.
Yeah, I think it is hard, because I’m super proud of the game that I played, and I wouldn’t play any differently. And that’s exactly what I wanted to do when I went out there. But it definitely is frustrating knowing that I was so close. I was one challenge away. Like, that challenge haunts me. It didn’t work out for me this time.
Did you think there was any chance that Jeremy was actually going to take you or let you get to a fire-making tiebreaker?
Unfortunately, I knew that I was going home that night. Jeremy told me when we were sitting in the hammock having that conversation. He said, “You know, Kel, I’m sorry. I respect you and I love you as a person, but I can’t take you. The jury loves you way too much. I can’t win against you.”
He was so confident that he could beat Spencer. Obviously he was right, but I don’t think that I fully believed he could until that final Tribal. I know you talk about the final players and everything at Ponderosa. Was it pretty much a consensus among the jury even before final Tribal?
Oh man, tough question. When Jeremy talks about his family and having a son on the way, I think that really kind of put people over the edge of wanting to vote for him. But I definitely do think that you didn’t get to see a lot of how Spencer acted in the game, and he did get a little bit arrogant and cocky towards the end. He burned bridges way too much and got a little too personal with things, and so I think that’s why people wanted Jeremy to win over Spencer.
How so? Did he burn bridges with you? Because we didn’t see that.
I know, and I’m bummed out that the audience didn’t get to see him doing that. A lot of Spencer’s game was building relationships with people and working on that a lot, but I think he just took it too far. He just got very personal, talking about families, and, “No, I would never do this to you,” and, “We’re going to be to the end.” It’s just kind of, I guess, a lot of promises, and he really made people feel like they were with him — which is great, because he was able to get as far as he did, but at the end we all kind of felt like … I don’t know. Just a bitter taste in our mouths, I guess.
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Sort of like him whispering to you, “You’re good, you’re good,” at Tribal Council. The second he said that, you knew he was putting the votes on you.
Exactly. You heard me say that. I’m like, “He’s lied to me before.” Like hello, I don’t trust you.
What was your take when Spencer threatened Jeremy that he was going to turn everyone against him if kept you?
What you saw in that final four Tribal Council is pretty much the entire Council. It was Spencer and I going back and forth just talking about how great the other one was. Spencer did a great job, and I told Jeremy,, “He speaks very well.” I said, “This is what he’s doing to me right now, and it’s exactly what he’s going to do to you at final Tribal.” I didn’t really believe that. I knew Jeremy could beat Spencer, but I had to kind of say, “How he’s talking to me right now, what he’s doing to that jury, how he’s working that jury, he’s going to do it to you at the end.”
How do you think you would’ve done in a fire-making tiebreaker against Spencer?
Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I hope I would’ve done okay. I don’t know. I don’t even want to think about it, to be honest.
We haven’t talked about the other big Tribal yet where you make Keith this incredible looking fake idol, and then he doesn’t try to use it at all. He doesn’t put it around his neck or make a big display or anything. He just lets it go! What are you thinking at that point?
Okay, A: How legit was that necklace?
It was amazing.
I thought it was pretty good, right? And the whole point of me doing that, the only reason I did it and thought it might potentially work, is because I knew that the idols look different, and I know that people had talked about it. Because they had seen them when they’d been playing, and they’re like, “Was your idol different than Jeremy’s?” And I knew Jeremy knew they were different. And I had the piece of paper that said, “This is an idol.” I had the wrapper. And so I was like, “Oh my God, if I have the wrapper, it has the actual idol note, this looks legit. This could maybe work.”
And so when Keith just kind of rolled over and died in that Tribal Council, I was like, “Keith, now what are you doing? Noooooo! Maybe, if you know you’re going home, just try. Play it.” And I couldn’t play it because of how I had played my idols. I knew that people wouldn’t believe me. So I was like, “Keith, you have to be the one to pull this off. You have to do it. You have to try.” And when he didn’t do it, I was just like… I was so mad. I was so mad inside. I don’t even know how to explain it. I was so frustrated. I was like, “Keith, you just let a million dollars slip through your fingers!”
Kelley, you lost 31 pounds, a record for the season, which is crazy because usually it’s the big huge dudes that lose more weight. How were you feeling when you got off the island there?
Yeah, 31 pounds, that’s so crazy. How fitting — season 31, 31 pounds. There you go. I was just exhausted. I think the stress of everything is what really kind of got me, because I did go on to rewards and some food. So I think I was just stressed out. This was a tough season, man. Whoever won, Jeremy, I mean, he deserves it.
It’s been twice you’ve done this show now. Would you do it a third time or not?
That means yes.
I probably would. Right now, it’s very fresh, but yes, I probably would.
Well, you got stuck with a very difficult location this time with Cambodia.
It was brutal. And I hope people realize what you see on TV was just a little bit of it. It rained for days. We didn’t eat for days. I would never quit Survivor, and I was at the breaking point. Like, “Honestly, I just don’t know if I can do this.” It was horrible.
Whenever you don’t win, I’m sure there are always regrets. If you could change one thing, what would it be?
Wow, that’s such a tough question, because there are so many little things looking back. I guess I wouldn’t have trusted Spencer so much, because I put a lot of faith in him.