Three-time Survivor player Malcolm Freberg took home $100,000 after tricking his fellow reality stars on USA Network’s newest series Snake in the Grass.
Us Weekly spoke with Malcolm and his costars – fellow Survivor alums Earl Cole and Yul Kwon, in addition to Naked and Afraid star Jeff Zausch – about the premiere episode and how he evaded suspicion. It helped that one of the clues specifically pointed at Yul and his profession as a lawyer.
“If we would have talked and realized these clues were pointing to people who were not the snake – they are not literal in their meaning – then Yul and I would have been like, ‘OK, it’s either Malcolm or Earl,’ and I think we would have had it,” Jeff tells Us. “I trusted Earl.”
Yul also trusted Earl since they knew each other from Survivor circles, but that didn’t exactly play to their benefit. “I also thought with Earl – because he’s just a stand-up guy, he played with lots of integrity – he would probably make the perfect snake,” Yul explains. “They’d probably want to get someone like him. I think in some ways, the fact that we kind of knew each other, also hurt us because there was an assumption of trust in each other. I just kinda thought Earl would believe me in general when I kept saying I’m not the snake, and when I finally realized he really didn’t believe me, it was almost kinda too late.”
Malcolm had the guys so fooled, in fact, that Jeff originally thought he was a crew member, not a contestant, on the show. “This guy got s–t-faced off his rocker the night before the challenge,” he says of the night before filming. “He showed up, morning one, to the helicopter, I look over and this guy looks like s–t. … He’s puking his guts out. And I’m thinking production just hired a homeless guy to help us out with the helicopter.”
The California native admits he “took a bottle of rum to the face” before showing up.
In the end, the guys still give him his props. “Malcolm, he did play an amazing game,” Jeff says. “He deserves the money for what he was able to do.”
Earl agrees, with Yul adding, “You played a brilliant game.”
Snake in the Grass airs on USA Network every Monday starting August 1 at 11 p.m. ET/PT.