Brandon Hantz: I'm Not Very Good at 'Survivor'
By LISA HIRSCH
March 14, 2013
Brandon Hantz was sent home from Wednesday night's Survivor: Caramoan in perhaps the most dramatic exit ever -- at an Immunity Challenge that morphed into a Tribal Council when his tribe forfeited following Brandon's camp-wide rampage that culminated with him dumping their stock of rice and beans into the sand.
ETonline interviewed the 21-year-old chemical disposal worker from Katy, TX the day after his ouster aired. Read on for the rambling Q&A that touches on everything from whether Brandon regrets dumping the rice and beans (Hint: not at all), to the shoulder massage Jeff gave him at the Immunity challenge, to being forgiven for his sins, and to his dream of coming back to the show to compete with his infamous uncle Russell Hantz. All with pop culture references to YouTube bullies, a popular video game, and Justin Timberlake thrown in.
ETonline: You and Phillip had been going back and forth for awhile, what was it about the interaction with him that pushed you over the edge?
Brandon: Very demeaning, very disrespectful, very just like “Daddy-ish,” he wanted to play God and dad and everything else. … He was the leader in some weird, weird, weird way. Sick, if you ask me. He's a silly guy ... It's entertaining, to see him be weird.
ETonline: So, even in the beginning of the episode, you mentioned that you had thought about spoiling the rice and beans if you were going to end up going home, and then you ended up spilling the rice and beans, what was your thought when you did that?
Brandon: My thought was, if they take a million dollars from me, I'm gonna take two days worth of rice, I mean, come on. I think it's a fair trade. I think I got the dirty end of the stick, but it was hilarious, was it not?
ETonline: It was entertaining, it's true. But I guess I'm wondering, on the episode we see you clashing with Phillip a lot, but it seemed like you were getting along pretty well with everyone else.
Brandon: Yeah, I was. … It was kind of disheartening, to see my friends down talk me like I'm supposed to be in a hospital. Everybody had to live with Phillip too and everybody was just as disgusted. They were just bitter that they didn't have any rice and beans, and they wanted to trash me. The people that wanted to play to the cameras are Andrea, Malcolm, Corinne, Phillip and Cochrane for that matter. Ugh. He does nothing. … I have no problem with these guys in real life, but, dude, as far as I'm concerned, man, those people aren't real reality TV. …
When you're behind those cameras, there's so many fake people that just like to play up to the cameras – bandwagon-hoppers, is what I call them. They like to jump on whatever's good, you know? … If I would have been in the alliance with Phillip, they wouldn't have talked to me the way that they did. It would've been okay to vote off Phillip. But as Corinne said in the last scenes for the next episode, she said he's the craziest person, or she said, he's the most annoying person to ever play Survivor. And that was what I was trying to portray. But when I approached everyone, it was like, ‘Oh, let's ignore him,' so we'll see how it works out for Corinne. So, I mean, you should've listened when you had the chance. Now, you may be voted out. You never know.
ETonline: When you say that they were playing to the camera, what did you see being there, that we didn't see at home?
Brandon: I saw a bunch of people that were being really nice. I mean, we all got along really well, we played games. That's why Andrea was crying, because she was like, 'Wow, I really screwed this guy.' … I really liked my tribe. I did not like the fact that they were being manipulated by Phillip, or really, just going along with him. You don't go along with somebody like that, you cut the head off the snake, like I say, or you end up getting screwed yourself. … I see a bunch of followers out there and I'm a leader. That's what I do – I lead stuff. And I make stuff happen and pour rice and beans out and whatnot.
ETonline: So, speaking of the rice and beans, do you regret that, or do you stand by that decision?
Brandon: I definitely stand by that decision. It was awesome. Did you not see their faces? [Laughing] It was epic! It was almost as cool as [video game] Modern Warfare 3. I'm just saying.
ETonline: Did you feel guilty at all, because maybe they might go hungry for a couple days?
Brandon: That's okay. It's Survivor.
ETonline: Talking about the immunity challenge – were you surprised that Jeff started the Tribal Council right there at the immunity challenge?
Brandon: [Laughing] It was awesome. The whole episode was amazing. You've got to understand, I have absolute confidence in the way that... maybe because I was being picked on so much? For example, have you watched [the] YouTube [video] where the fat kid was getting picked on by the little bitty skinny kid and finally the fat kid just straight up power bombs him on the concrete? It was awesome, and everybody was cheering for that little guy. Why? Because he's been slapped and punched and kicked and finally he takes up for himself. Do you think he regrets it? Hell no. That little kid's like, I'm about to go eat me some donuts and play me some Modern Warfare 3. And that's exactly what he did. How do you regret something like that?
Aside from [that] I love Jesus, I love my faith, I'm a Christian, you know, and I know it gets tired, people hearing all about it, but still, I'm not gonna change my beliefs just because I didn't represent the way I was supposed to. I'm not perfect, like I said the last season, but at the same time, I would say conviction did set in for me, you know. … It's important to me to do the right thing, at all times, but I can say that I'm forgiven for it, so I don't really have any problem with what happened. It was a year ago. Would I do it again? No. Of course not. Okay I can't say that I wouldn't do it again. [Laughing] I don't know really what I would do, but obviously I would try my best for it not to get to that point, for me having to spill rice and beans to prove a point.
But all I was doing was proving a point ... [that] you can't always get to eat. You can't just make somebody feel like garbage and then just not have consequences for it. And it's such a little consequence, I mean, come on, you're on Survivor, we're starving already, go fish for something. I was cooking everything, I was picking up around the shelter. You're taking my chance of winning a million dollars, you're taking my money away from me and my family, so, rice and beans? Cry me a river. Cry me a river, like Justin Timberlake said. You know what I'm saying?
ETonline: [At the immunity challenge] Jeff was kind of holding you, Jeff separated you from the tribe…
Brandon: Oh, Jeff has the softest hands ever. It is amazing. Jeff, I'm down for another massage if that is cool with you. Just fly me in, real quick shoulder, maybe a foot, because I'd like to see how them soft hands would do on my feet. Jeff's awesome, man, I respect him. … And any [members of the] production [team], man. I've never given production trouble, one time, one time. … And they all respect me as a person, maybe not as a player. I'm not a very good player. I'm good at being myself and I'm good at challenges, but as far as Survivor strategy is concerned, I'm in the low, low averages, I would say. But I definitely respect Jeff, and if he asked anything of me, as I was out there or even in life, if he needed a favor, if he needed help, I would be there for him. The guy is not just a host, a great host, he's a good person. And that's hard to come by, because some of these guys think they're too sexy for their shucks sort of thing, and he's a real person, for sure, and I respect him a lot.
ETonline: If he hadn't separated you, do you think you would have gotten physical with Phillip?
Brandon: I think it could've got there, of course. I can't lie and say that wasn't a possibility, but I think even in the midst of my anger, I did have control. As you've seen, I showed a lot of restraint. A lot of restraint. The only thing that really could've ended up bad for him was if he would've approached me. And kept talking about my family. But, you know, he's not stupid like that.
I know he's a pretty ignorant guy sometimes, Survivor-wise now, this isn't in real life, but as far as Survivor, very, very ignorant. But as far as, you know, life is concerned, I can't make that call. I respect the guy, and I'd have no problem shaking his hand and being friends with him. Now would he do that with me? Doubtful. ‘Cause, you know, not everybody's forgiving and forgetful, but I would hope.
ETonline: Watching you on two seasons of Survivor, and seeing your uncle on two seasons of Survivor, you both talk about the Hantz family name a lot.
Brandon: Very prideful. Very prideful family.
ETonline: Does your family put a lot of pressure on you to be a certain way?
Brandon: No, no, the pressure's there, for everyone. It's a lot of pressure for everybody. I can't just put it on me. It's kind of a selfish thing for me to do. We're a very, very prideful family. We have the biggest hearts in the world, but you cross us and it's not a good thing. That doesn't mean physical, but if we don't tear you down verbally and intellectually – ‘cause most people think these guys are stupid, you know, trailer trash. A lot of that -- trailer trash country boys that just have a temper. You have no idea of the intellectual capacity we have. … There's a lot of pride, there's a lot of defensiveness we have towards people because of the stereotype they put us under. And that's even before Survivor, we can't blame that on Survivor. … We really love and respect our family and our friends, and we're very, very loyal and we'll help you out in any way, shape or form.
ETonline: What is your relationship with your uncle Russell like right now?
Brandon: Awesome. He's never been more prouder of me. … We had a bad season to where we really didn't like each other. I mean, it was legitimate -- he wanted to make my life hell, I wanted to make his life hell. But there's always been a physical respect and nothing ever gets physical, because it's just not like that. We don't always resort to that kind of stuff, we very rarely resort to that actually. … we just came to a conclusion that look – we may not agree on everything, but we are family. And we're gonna have to live with each other and if anything were to happen to my Uncle Russell, I'd be devastated. So I texted him, and I told him, I love you Uncle Russell and I hope everything goes good for you. We're so much the same. When two people are so much alike, there's always going to be confrontation. Always.
And we both really want to compete against each other. … That would be such an honor and a privilege to play [Survivor] with my uncle, my own family, that would do so much for the Hantz name. And on top of that, [I] would be so paranoid. And [when] the paranoia sets in – it makes even better TV, in my opinion, [since] I don't know if I can trust him on Survivor. The dynamic between us – I can see a lot of confrontation. At the same time, we would have each other there. There could possibly be an alliance there. … But there's also a good possibility that we could be gunning for each other, so I'm actually excited to see if that's even a possibility. Plus, I hold the record for the most weight held, with Jim Rice, and really I held it like 30 seconds longer than he did, so I hold the record, just sayin'. And [Russell] swears that he can beat me. I'm like, okay old man, so let's keep dreaming. I'm the new Hantz, and the new one's always better than the old.
Survivor airs Wednesday night at 8 p.m. on CBS.