The tribe may have spoken, but Paul Wachter has a few more words left in him.
Blindsided by his fellow Gen X castaways, Wachter, 52 — the oldest contestant on season 33 — was sent packing on the Wednesday, October 5, episode of Survivor, despite belonging to what he thought was a solid alliance of six.
(Reminder: His pack consisted of Bret LaBelle, Chris Hammons, Jessica Lewis, Lucy Huang and Sunday Burquest.)
“It’s humbling. I got my feelings hurt, but you can’t help it,” the Florida-based boat mechanic tells Us Weekly. “You’re sleeping, working and strategizing side by side. So when one of your very good friends turns on you, it’s totally unnecessary. We could have voted somebody else out and just had a conversation. But that’s not what happens in Survivor. You don’t get a second chance. You get one chance to be a schmuck and that’s what I did.”
While on the island, he clashed with some of his tribemates, including Ken McNickle. The model, 33, often called Wachter out for saying he would do a task and then not following through with it.
“Ken was on the bottom and he knew it,” admits Wachter. “He was pretty much going to say anything he had to to stay. There’s a reason the six of us were together and he was on the outs with David [Wright] and CeCe [Taylor]. Ken had his opportunity to be in the alliance many times. For some reason, he didn’t want to get involved.”
When it came down to it, Wachter and McNickle just couldn’t relate to each other. “We come from different worlds. He’s in a zen world and I’m in a right now, today world. He’s a tough guy to figure out,” Wachter says. “I don’t stand on the edge of the rock with a sun beaming behind me. That’s Ken’s job. He models.”
The rock singer shares more with Us.
Us Weekly: As the oldest player in the game, did you feel pressure to be the tribe’s leader?
Paul Wachter: No, you see people calling me the alpha male, but we had six of us that were type-A personalities. My personality is large, so people construe that as being a boss, but sometimes it bites you in the butt.
Us: Did stepping up hurt your game?
PW: No question about it. One of the things you shouldn’t do in Survivor is be the candle. You don’t want to be the flame. I was the flamethrower. Coming in as a leader is something I can’t change. It’s who I am. Other than not knowing when to shut up, because sometimes I should shut up, I don’t know if I could have done it differently. It’s hard to change your personality.
Us: You sat down with some of the millennials over lunch. What was your impression of them after talking to them?
PW: They’re great! They were anxious to ask me a million questions. I’m the old guy and they haven’t talked to a parent in a long time. They were like, “How do we sharpen our machete?” They’ve also gone through the same things as us. They had to be evacuated. They told me, “Right before we were evacuated, we were having a beach party instead of building our shelter!” [Laughs] They’re just kids. One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t make it to the merge where I could hang out with the kids. I thought I could have aligned with them.
PW: First thing we were told about was the showmance. I’ve never heard it called a showmance! It just shows you how old I am. [Laughs.] Survivor is challenging, fun, intriguing, but bottom line, you’re playing for a million dollars. They could have waited 39 days.
Us: In the immunity challenge, CeCe insisted on crossing the beam herself because she wanted to get her own work done. Do you think that Gen X mentality lost you the challenge?
PW: Come hell or high water, she was going to finish the challenge. Unfortunately, that was an individual decision and not a tribe decision. And she was in a tribe. She’s glad she did it even though it cost us the challenge.
Us: You told Jessica that, if it came up, you would form an all-boys alliance. Do you regret that move?
PW: Obviously it was a mistake because it cost me the game. It came across like I had said, "Hey, I’ll cut you girls out in a minute." It’s what I said but it’s not what I meant. I thought it was way too early to be playing that worry game. We had a great six-person alliance. It seemed very simple to me. But I was wrong.
Us: Did you have any inkling that you were on the chopping block?
PW: No, no clue at all, because the guys had assured me over and over, 'cause they were convinced that the six of us were staying together.
Us: You were also the first castaway that needed medical assistance. Walk us through what happened when you collapsed and Dr. Joe said you may have had symptoms of a heart attack.
PW: Everybody was feeling weak. We had been through a lot. We had been evacuated, been through a full day and night of torrential rain and had rebuilt our camp twice. I got really dehydrated. Everything happened very quickly. I knew they wouldn’t let me die out there, but I knew I was in trouble. They had the medical team there immediately. They gave me electrolytes and what I needed to get me back on my feet. The next day, I was like Superman.
Us: Who is the biggest threat in the game?
PW: I’ll give you two. I think the biggest sleeper is David, and I think the biggest threat is Chris. David comes across as, "Oh, poor me!" and Chris has a very quiet confidence about him. You feel very comfortable with that guy. He’s very calculated in what he says and he’s a smart guy. He’s a good friend of mine.
Us: In the end, do you think a millennial or a Gen Xer will win?
PW: Gen X is going to win it. I just don’t think a millennial has what it takes to go all the way to the end. If I had to put my money on it, I think Chris and David have it.
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
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