Survivor’s Patrick Bolton Talks Pre-Game Connection to Castmate Ali Elliott: ‘I Used It As a Lifeline’

Patrick Bolton Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Patrick Bolton on Survivor 35 ‘Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers’ Robert Voets/CBS

“I’ve never believed a redhead a day in my life.” Those were the words of Patrick Bolton’s tribemate just before he was voted out of Survivor season 35 “Heroes vs. Heroes vs. Hustlers.”

The Alabama native, 24, who described himself as “persistent, playful and thankful” in his CBS bio — and yes, has red hair — experienced some personality clash within the Hustlers tribe, particularly with his seemingly anti-ginger castmate, Lauren Rimmer.

Still, he had a pre-game connection with Ali Elliott, with whom he went to college, which was kept under wraps and could have taken him far into the game if played the right way.

Bolton, a small business owner, then fell short in the immunity challenge and Elliot started having doubts about aligning with him, especially given the pushback from other players.

He clears things up in his interview with Us:

Us: How did you feel going into tribal council? Did you suspect you were going home at all?

PB: Going into tribal, before any words were spoken, I was pretty calm and collected. What you got to see as far as Lauren telling everyone how much I bothered them, and their responses, I didn’t see those. What I had seen, I was comfortable thinking Lauren was going home. Not me. Going in, I felt amazing. Part-way through, I got a little worried from some of Lauren’s comments and some of Ali’s comments. It ended bad for me yesterday. I relived the experience watching it on national TV. It was unfortunate, mainly because Lauren should have been the one going home.

Us: What did you think about Lauren claiming to have two idols? Do you think that made any difference?

PB: That meant literally nothing to anyone. As you saw, Ali laughed because she had never looked for the idol. She had said that. I, on the other hand, did look for the idol and should have found two with the amount of time I spent looking.

Lauren Rimmer and Patrick Bolton Survivor 35 Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Lauren Rimmer and Patrick Bolton on Survivor 35 ‘Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers’ Robert Voets/CBS

Us: Who do you think was ultimately responsible for the votes going your way?

PB: I think Lauren was ultimately responsible. Or maybe Ryan [Ulrich]. As you see, Ryan and Devon [Pinto] said we have votes coming our way and we are the determining factor. It was Lauren or me. I obviously was saying Lauren. I thought I was good. It’s hard to say. Was it Lauren? Was it Ryan? I feel Lauren swayed the votes, but ultimately Ryan made through with that decision.

Us: Did you realize how close Ryan and Devon were? Was that clear out there?

PB: It was not clear. Again, as I go through and watch now … I didn’t realize that they shared many conversations together without my being there. I thought I was there for a good majority of our conversations and strategy play. It was just definitely something I should have picked up on. And if I had, I would have made better strategy playing with Ali. I didn’t take full advantage of my situation there. That’s another factor that sent me home.

Us: Speaking of that, you knew Ali prior to the game. Was that something that was talked about openly or did you keep it hush-hush?

PB: No, it was definitely hush-hush. Try and think for yourself — if you were playing Survivor, you would not want any of your other tribemates to know that you knew someone prior to the show. That’s a really comforting thing. It was for me, thinking, “Hey, I got someone I can trust here and someone who knows me. We want the best for each other.” I thought Ali wanted the best for me. She ultimately did, she just couldn’t take full advantage of that and she didn’t want to put her life on the line for me. That’s what it boiled down to. I kept it very hush-hush. I didn’t mention anything to anyone about it as far as producers prior to the show. Ali told me that as soon as she saw my face, she told the first person she could tell, as far as CBS authority. Like, “Hey, I know this guy. I don’t know if this is planned or what you guys are doing, but we went to the same college. He was neighbor. He lived down the street.” We’ve been to enough of the same parties to know each other. We weren’t close friends, but we were definitely close associates.

Us: Do you think it played a factor in your demise?

PB: I feel like it kinda did hurt my game. I used it as a lifeline that couldn’t be broken. I pretty much always said that Ali was going to be my lifeline. If I could get Devon and Ryan … Ali is a for sure pick for me. She’s not going to vote against me. I leaned on that for too much comfort and I should have never have done that. I would never do that again. I would have either said, “Ali’s gotta go. Or I gotta make better strategy with her.” I didn’t communicate enough with her and we shouldn’t have tried to hide as much of our talking. We should have strategized to really work that connection.

Patrick Bolton Survivor 35 Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
Patrick Bolton on Survivor 35 ‘Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers’ Robert Voets/CBS

Us: You looked pissed when you left. Who were you most angry with?

PB: I felt so heated toward Ali and Ryan. Devon’s a quiet guy, so I didn’t talk as much to him. I was very heated at Ali because I didn’t think she would vote against me in a million years. At least not that early in the game. Going toward a later vote-out, I could definitely see her voting me out for her benefit. But it was too early. What was not shown, I was searching for the immunity idol after the challenge was lost, and Ryan comes up to me and says, “I know you’re looking for the immunity idol. You don’t need to worry. Don’t think you need the immunity idol to make it through tonight. Lauren’s going home.” He told me that with the most serious look on his face. I had 100 percent confidence that Lauren was going home after that conversation with Ryan. I really wanted to strangle him right there. I knew that was totally against anything I could do.

Us: You were seen as a goofball who sometimes rubbed people the wrong way. What did you think watching that back?

PB: I definitely think I got a loud personality, at times, not always. I was so excited to be on Survivor. In a million years, I would have never thought it would be me. Yet I’m here. I’m having the time of my life. The experience is amazing and I’m having fun. We were joking around a lot. Ryan was this funny little guy. He was always cracking jokes. Pretty much, I didn’t think I was going to negatively affect my game by joking around. A lot of it was just who I am. Friends watching called me and said, “I wouldn’t expect anything less of you.” I find that humorous that they would say the same thing about me.

Us: Simone [Nguyen] told me in her exit interview that you were there for the cameras and airtime. Response?

PB: Oh Simone, go to sleep. Do not say that. That is not fair. That is not true. She said I was there for airtime and TV? She’s crazy. I do love Simone though. I don’t want her to think I don’t love her. Simone, you are loved. But that is not true.

Us: Finally, do you think there was anything you could have done at tribal council to switch the votes or were they locked?

PB: I thought back through this on a few occasions where I’m laying in bed and I can’t go to sleep all night because of this thought. If i had known I was going home, could I have switched the votes? I played so many thoughts back through my head, words I could have said to swing the votes. I feel like there could have been a chance if I really spilled everything out. … Honestly, Ryan was never going to go home. Lauren was really the only option I had to get to go home. I think if I had used the right words in the right moment, it could have possibly happened. It would have been like getting the best hand in cards. It would have been difficult.

Survivor airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

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