Survivor is back! Season 25 of the CBS reality hit premiered on Wednesday night, with three returning castaways and a '80s TV star roughing it in the Philippines, and we're talking with Zane Knight, the wise-cracking, friendly tire repair worker who received the dubious honor of being sent home first.
Zane came on strong in the first episode, winning over everyone on his tribe, and even going as far as to make individual alliances with each one! With strong relationships forged with his teammates from day one, the 28-year-old from Danville, Virginia seemed to be a shoe-in to stick around, but ultimately volunteering to go home after his poor performance in the first challenge was his undoing. Read on to hear what Zane had to say about going home so soon.
ETOnline: From watching past seasons, I noticed you made a pretty bold move by making alliances with everyone. What was your strategy in doing so?
Zane: I've said it before, in this game just like in life, why save up a bunch of stuff to use tomorrow when you might not be here no way? The best basis I can give you for that is the returnees. They didn't know they were going to go out when they went out. They got taken out. So like I said, why save up a bunch of stuff you won't be able to use tomorrow no way? I would rather go out on my own terms than for you to put me out. How many people have ever graced this show that can say that, 'I left on my own terms.'
ETOnline: Did you worry when you were making the alliances? Did you wonder if they were going to talk to each other and tell each other that you had made an alliance with each of them?
Zane: Well it's always a possibility but no, I didn't honestly. I'm that pig headed. I honestly thought I had everybody locked down. I gave you my piece, you loved it. That's the end of it; go on about your way. It's a way to make subtle gestures to people to make sure you got them listening the right way. Like I said, I thought I had it locked down. I just knew I had everything; that's what it's supposed to be.
ETOnline: Talking about the challenge, why did you volunteer to go home after that? Was that part of a master plan that we didn't see all of on television, where you were trying to blindside Russell [Swan]?
Zane: Of course. I think you did. I think you got to see as much as you needed to. I thought it was perfect. When you tell somebody something, you got to back it up. If you can tell somebody something in a way that makes them respect you for it, you just won them over forever. You see what I mean? I knew if I was the first one, nobody wanted to go home, nobody even wanted to say the words 'I will go home.' But if you sit down for your tribe and you say, 'Listen, if you think I'm the one that needs to go home or if you think I'm the one holding you back, go on and send me.' You know what I mean? I don't feel like…that's not y'alls fault. You give them this no offense sort of, 'Damn, man I really like Zane, you know what I mean, Zane did the best he could. Zane tried as hard as he could and he's willing to give you his shot for us.' You see what I'm saying? That makes me a tribe master. I knew if I could lock that down and I could get rid of [Russell], it was like a cult. I would have everyone under my arm and do them like I wanted to.
ETOnline: Being the first player to go, do you feel a little bit bad about that or do you stand by that you felt you went out on your own terms?
Zane: It's never enough. You always want more and you always want to say, 'Hell yeah!' Everybody wants to go to the end; that's the point. Nobody would sign up if they didn't think they could make it to the end or they didn't want to. But, like I told you, I stand by everything. I'm proud of my performance and hopefully America loved it enough to where it pissed you off that I got voted off first. Maybe you want to see me get another chance at it? If America feels strongly enough about it and the good people at Survivor feel like it, maybe you'll get to see me again.
ETOnline: From playing Survivor, what surprised you most about the game?
Zane: The game; if I can say it like that. You spend so much time being a fan and people make their own impressions and people know everything before they get there. When you walk out onto that beach and you know you're in charge of yourself. If I want to have somewhere dry to sleep, it's 'cause we're going to have to build it. If I'm going to be warm by the fire it's 'cause I'm going to have to make one. It changes your whole, I mean, it's the realest thing I've felt in my life.
ETOnline: In terms of having been out there for few days, did it really change your perspective when you came back home?
Zane: Yes, ma'am. I'm proud to be American. It changes everything about you. It changes the way I sweep the floors at the house. It changes the way you fold your clothes when you take them out of the washing machine. It makes you appreciate, you step away from so much stuff when you go out there and you give up so many liberties to go out there that something as simple as brushing your teeth in the morning takes on a different aspect.
ETOnline: On the show last night, you mentioned you had quit smoking before you came out there. Did you continue with that?
Zane: Yeah, I got me a pack of cigarettes soon as I got back to Raleigh. I quit smoking for this game because I thought it would help me a little bit. But like I said, I feel this game to be more of a social game than anything. So cigarettes didn't affect me none. So when I got back, I fired me up another one.
ETOnline: I was curious about that, because I would think that withdrawing from cigarettes would also impact you being able to be out there because you're probably thinking about it a lot.
Zane: I feel like [when it comes to] withdrawal, pain is weakness leaving the body. ... You're withdrawing from a lot of stuff. You're withdrawing from food, from comfort, from being out in the elements. If all I'm thinking about is a cigarette, I'm getting out cheap because ya'll are thinking about whole lot more than my cigarette.
ETOnline: Which tribe out of the three do you think will be most successful?
Zane: Matsing. It's the one I'm from.
ETOnline: Which player do you think is going to win the million dollars?
Zane: I think it's going to be [an open and] shut case. I think that America is going to decide that I should have got the million dollars and they are just not going to watch anymore of the seasons and then give me the check instead.
Survivor: Philippines airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on CBS.