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Exclusive: Shannon "Shambo" Waters talks about 'Survivor: Samoa'


By Christopher Rocchio, 12/18/2009 

Shannon "Shambo" Waters claims that if she was a former Foa Foa member, she would have voted to eliminate her too.

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The 45-year-old sales representative from Renton, WA became the fifteenth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Samoa during last night's penultimate broadcast of the CBS reality series.

On Friday, Shambo talked to Reality TV World about how she knew she was going home and if it led her to do any scrambling; whether she thinks she alienated herself from her former Galu tribemates; if she feels she would have had a shot at the $1 million if she made it to the final Tribal Council; and why concocting her nickname was a calculated decision.


Reality TV World: Do you prefer Shannon or Shambo?

Shambo: Whatever swings your wagon sideways baby! It's all good.

Reality TV World: Were you surprised to be voted off or had you gone into Tribal Council confident that [Mick Trimming] was going to be eliminated?

Shambo: I was absolutely factually positive that I was going to be going home.

Reality TV World: How did you know?

Shambo: It was kind of a no-brainer. I knew those guys so well after all that time spent. [Jaison Robinson] turned around and walked off, it was just set in motion right then.

Reality TV World: Other than talking to [Russell Hantz] about Jaison walking away when you approached them and how calm Mick seemed to be, we really didn't see you do much scrambling before Tribal Council. Was that the case or did editing just make it seem that way?

Shambo: I absolutely, positively did not scramble. I asked Russell on three occasions that day -- the same question three different ways -- and he gave me three different answers. So I packed my shit. (laughing)

Reality TV World: Just to be clear, you never approached Jaison directly and asked him what he told Russell?

Shambo: I didn't need to. I already knew.

Reality TV World: I know you said you didn't scramble, but did you ever consider trying to re-team with [Brett Clouser] and finding a way to turn a Foa Foa or did you just think that wasn't a realistic option at that point?

Shambo: Nope. Throughout the history of this show, whatever my word was was my bond. There was absolutely no point in making me look like a crap to the world in the twelfth hour. It was what it was. If I was Foa Foa I would have picked me too with that Immunity Idol around Brett's neck because at least they had loyalty to each other throughout the game and at least I respect that.

Reality TV World: Once you made the decision to turn on Galu...

Shambo: (laughing) You might want to rephrase that so I can actually answer it. I didn't turn on Galu. Galu imploded themselves by voting one of their own.

Reality TV World: Okay, fair enough. When you decided to "join forces" with Foa Foa, had you always figured that they were likely to cut you once they didn't need you any more or had there been a point where you thought you'd be able to somehow make it to the end?

Shambo: I was hopeful that I would make it all the way to the end, but as the game went on I questioned that more and more. My strategy going into it was to create as many relationships as humanly possible. I can only do that with six people on my tribe -- leaving four of them hanging out in the wind.

So it was a pleasure and a blessing to be sent over to Foa Foa six out of the first 13 days of the game to solidify those relationships early on and try to hold on until the merge, which is exactly what happened.

Reality TV World: On last night's show, you told Russell and Jaison while on Reward that [Natalie White's] selection of Brett was "very telling." Were you aware of the extremely close alliance between Russell and Natalie at that point?

Shambo: Absolutely. From Day 6 on.

Reality TV World: So did you really think she was on the verge of flipping or something or were you just trying whatever you could to try and build a little conflict between them?

Shambo: I said it was very telling, but I wasn't saying that Natalie was going to flip. They throw things in there and there's more conversation that nobody's privy to that I can't speak to because it wasn't seen on television.

Reality TV World: A lot was made of how given the jury was mostly Galu, you would have been easy to beat had you made it to the final Tribal Council.  Do you believe that or do you think that when push came to shove, some of the Galu folks might have decided that voting for you was still better than voting for a Foa Foa?

Shambo: I think I could have walked away with $1 million had I been pitched against two Foa Foas. I think I would have gotten exactly enough votes to win. I needed Russ to believe that all the Galu hated me, but all the Galu didn't hate me. But I needed him to believe that. I know that there was a lot of dissension with Galu. It could have gone either way. It's really a crap shoot and it doesn't really matter now.

I told Russ, I said, "Russ, seriously. How many votes am I really going to get with the people that are on the jury now?" Then I started doing the math. "What if Brett was on it? What if Mick was on it? What if you were on it? What if Natalie was on it? What if Jaison was on it? Where really would they vote?"

Reality TV World: So do you think that, deep down, that might have played a role in the Foa Foa alliance's decision to boot you?

Shambo: No. I think the decision was absolutely factually based on the fact that they needed somebody to help them take Brett down and physically they did not feel that I was in a position after 36 days and just getting the absolute living crap beat out of me that I was going to be an asset as far as [being] a strong threat in a personal Immunity [Challenge].

Reality TV World: What would you have done to try and sway the jury in your favor if you had made it to the final Tribal Council?

Shambo: I would have espoused all of my accomplishments as far as just providing for them. I don't think there was a better provider on Galu other than me. There definitely was not a better provider after the merge than me -- on either tribe.

Reality TV World: What are some qualities you considered important to base your final Tribal Council vote on?

Shambo: Mine was based on who I felt overall... Whose name did I really want to write down that I would feel okay with giving $1 million to.

Reality TV World: When they were making the decision to blindside [John Fincher], we saw the Foa Foa being really worried that you might flip back to Galu and force a new 4-4 tie if they decided to vote John off instead of voting [David Ball] off like you wanted, but last week's episode never showed you considering that.  Did you ever consider doing that or were they worried about nothing?

Shambo: I think they were worried about their own lack of integrity versus mine. I never once did something that I said I wasn't going to do -- even in unseen footage. What you see is what you get with me.

Reality TV World: When we talked to John, he told us that had he known he was going to be blindsided he would have been able to convince you to join him, [Monica Padilla] and Dave to go after Foa Foa. Would you have been willing to go along with that plan and if so why?

Shambo: Wow! (laughing) You know, I can't in good conscience answer that honestly. What I can tell you is John single-handedly helped me take [Laura Morett] down. I told him that I would owe him and if he needed a vote in the future I would give it to him. So I may have. I wouldn't have gone back on my word to John.

Reality TV World: Most of the former Galu members we've talked this season have insisted they weren't responsible for your alienation and you had alienated yourself from Day 1, so I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond to that.

Shambo: (laughing) Did you see the recap on Thanksgiving?

Reality TV World: I did.

Shambo: Did you see Laura's words of wisdom about me on Day 1?

Reality TV World: Yes.

Shambo: Okay, well I'll let you deduct your own conclusion on that. I absolutely did alienate myself by building the Shambo Shack and being 300 yards away from them. But I did that out of self-preservation, not to create alienation.

If I was going to alienate myself, then why would I be the main caretaker of the camp and the people -- John's cut foot, helping [Erik Cardona] putting noni on his legs when he got thrashed on coral, and go out fishing and collecting papayas and mangos and bananas and coconuts and being the No. 1 fire builder, getting up at 5AM, two hours before everybody.

Did I really alienate myself independently from them? Absolutely. I did that to keep me strong because I was in a dry environment. I was the only one in a completely watertight environment that I built. So it was a huge sacrifice and it was kind of risky, but I needed to sleep.

Reality TV World: You just mentioned Laura. What was the major problem you had with Laura? Where did your dislike for her originate and did you ever think about burying the hatchet with her?

Shambo: Absolutely. I don't think Laura and I had some huge dislike for each other as human beings. I think we were both incredibly strong individuals in our real life and I think we took it into the game.

On Day 1, she decided quite on her own that I was not going to be part of her alliance, and by the same token I had decided that Erik and [Russell Swan] and [Yasmin Giles] and John were going to be part of my alliance. You had the girl club with Dave kind of hanging in there depending what the vote was.

It was kind of a split tribe really. It was the being pushed away from and the disparaging remarks, stuff that was just silly. But look at the situation we were in. We were all at our worse. There's nobody out there that isn't a decent, good human being that was part of the cast. I'm looking forward to seeing everybody tomorrow night.

Reality TV World: Did your problems with Dave originate over the whole chicken boiling confrontation, or was there more to it than that?

Shambo: I don't think that Dave and I necessarily had a problem with each other. Dave and I are both very outspoken. Like I said, under those circumstances you're freezing, you're starving, you're dehydrated, your patients are wearing thin.

So as politically correct as I would be or he would be in a normal situation, it's Survivor. It was just people having snap moments. When you've already had conversations for the extent of two hours and you want to just keep kicking the dead dog -- the dog's not going to move baby. The dog is dead.

Reality TV World: You looked visibly stunned when Erik was blindsided right after the merge.

Shambo: I was pissed.

Reality TV World: Based on that, if Erik had been able to avoid elimination there by playing his Hidden Immunity Idol, do you think you ever would have flipped to Foa Foa or would you have stayed loyal to Erik, John, Dave and Brett?

Shambo: I don't even know how to answer that. I'm not a big flipper.

Reality TV World: The show showed you saying goodbye to chickens but it never explained who actually made the decision to suddenly kill all the chickens and do it all at once.  Who made the decision -- was there a tribe vote or something?

Shambo: There wasn't really a vote. I think there was a plan initiated when the first chicken was going to go, and there was a plan initiated when the other two were going to go. That was the plan that we followed. A lot of it had to do with at what point we ran out of all food with the exception of coconut. How many more days could we sustain ourselves with zero protein.

It was a matter of life and death in which the chickens were put down, but it was also absolutely pouring rain. Then the rain subsided and we got the water boiling and I got the soup going -- and it started pouring rain again and it rained for I think two or three more days after that.

But by the grace of god we -- me and Dave -- I espoused what I espoused and he walked away. It was the end of it. We weren't looking to fight with each other, we didn't have a bone to pick with each other. We were exhausted. We were at our worst.

Reality TV World: Do you think you would have been eliminated earlier in the game had Galu actually lost some Immunity Challenges or do you think your alliance with the guys was real and would have saved you?

Shambo: I think that it could have gone either way. I was at Foa Foa six out the first 13 days. So obviously there was a lot of pull that Shambo's head was next on the chopping block. But Erik and Brett and I think even Dave at that point and Chief Russ, I don't think any of those guys really wanted to see me go because they needed a workhorse and that's exactly what I was.

Then on the other hand, you never know about all the internal workings in your tribe because you're not privy to every single conversation that's going on 24 hours a day.

Reality TV World: Several former Galu members we've talked to said you made all of your decisions based off emotions. Is that something you would agree with?

Shambo: That's just hilarity. That's just hilarity. You know where these people get this shit from? It's because I'm so honest and openly -- I would walk up to Brett and say, "Brett, I know this is really going to hurt you, but I'm voting for Laura tonight."

Because I was honest that makes me emotional? Because I'm freezing to death and I'm crying and my hands feel like they have third-degree burns on them after we got that skin infection on our hands and I'm bawling like a baby? That makes me emotional? No. That makes me in pain.

Reality TV World: What was your take on Galu's decision to elect you tribal leader after Russell's medical evacuation? Were you suspicious about how you got the position and did you ever think it was something that could put a target on your back?

Shambo: I wasn't suspicious at all. It was a 5-5 tie originally going into the game. I changed my vote from Erik to Russ, but nobody knows that because it's not shown.

Reality TV World: Jeff Probst made a big deal about how you had called yourself Shannon throughout the audition and pre-game process but suddenly told everyone you were "Shambo" once the game began.  Why did you decide to play the game as Shambo instead of Shannon?

Shambo: I did Shambo in case people were walking up to me after the fact of the game so that I could recognize that these people are not someone that I know. In my real life, there are so many people in our small town that know me and my family that I wanted an alias to go by so that I knew they were calling me out as the person they know from Survivor.

Reality TV World: How were you cast for Survivor: Samoa? Was it your first time applying for the show?

Shambo: First time applying for the show. I sent a video in. I was wearing some camouflage, a bandana, combat boots -- sitting on my big ole' Harley Davidson with my Scottish Highlander bullhorns, which is very stunning. I pointed out that they've never had a former woman Marine Corps. sergeant on their show.



(Photo credit CBS)


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