Exclusive Interview: 'Survivor: Tocantins' Castoff Jerry Sims
Exclusive Interview: 'Survivor: Tocantins' Castoff Jerry Sims
If you’ve been following our Survivor coverage here at BuddyTV you may have noticed that Oscar Dahl began releasing his weekly Power Rankings last week, identifying Jerry as the man to beat on the Timbera tribe. I agreed, pointing out an odd moment from Episode 2 that felt like symbolic foreshadowing of a Jerry win. Apparently we know nothing.

Last night in the third episode of Survivor: Tocantins, “Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This,” Jerry Sims, the 49 year old Army Sergeant from Rock Hill, South Carolina, got the mercy boot. Jerry may have liked the beans but they didn’t like him. He was in obvious pain throughout the episode, explaining at one point that he felt like two boxers were having a fight inside his stomach. I think Timbera blew it. Sure, Jerry looked like he could barely stand for parts of the episode but he combined physical strength, practical experience and emotional stability. That tribe needs all of the calming influences they can get. Earlier today Jerry told me who was in the original Timbera alliance, who mistakenly believed they were in it and when it was formed. He explains why he liked Coach, talks about his work at the nuclear power plant and dishes on what the tribe knew about his own military background, Brendan’s fortune and Taj’s famous husband. Listen to the interview in its entirety or read our transcript below.

This is Henry Jenkins with BuddyTV. I’m here with Jerry Sims. Jerry, Jerry, man. I thought you were the favorite to win the game and you got voted out third. What happened?

Things didn’t go quite as planned and I came out on the short end of the stick. They got me voted out because - I guess it was because I wasn’t feeling my best and as usual the tribes always get rid of the weakest link at Tribal Council and I guess it was me at that time.

Did the Australian doctors in the little white coats and the khakis come check it out first?

Well after I got voted out they took care of me and doctored me back up and got me back to the way I’m used to feeling.

I’m really curious about your relationship with Coach. He quickly seems to be turning into one of the most hated villains in Survivor history. Honestly, he gives me the willies. How was he with you?

Man, me and coach was like brothers. We was like - we was - But what I see on TV is totally different from the way he acted when he was around me. So he was - I guess you guys just get to see the real Coach. I guess he was just faking it with me to stay on my good side.

You think so? So he gave a brother kind of a teammate kind of a feeling?

Exactly. Exactly. He was like a team type person. With me and Coach it was like a team type of a thing. We didn’t have any harsh words to say about each other or to each other. But from what I see on TV - Now, is this the same guy that I knew in the game? Hey, I guess he’s the villain.

If someone had told me that the ex-military guy would have gotten voted off third I would have sworn it was because he tried to be the leader. But it didn’t look like you ever did that. How do you think you managed to escape the trap that so many ex-military players on Survivor fall into?

Well that was my strategy going into the game. I could have been the leader. I could have took the map and the compass and been like “Hey, this is what we need to do. We’re gonna do it this way. Blah blah blah.” And I said no - the leader don’t last long around here. So I better play my cards and hold my teeth as long as I can. Till I see things going too badly - and then I need to step up and say “Hey, we need to do it my way from now on.”

How early did you form a solid alliance and who was it with?

When we was make’n the trek out to Tribal Council area - uhhh - to the camp area, we was talk’n on the way out and we kinda - the men kinda bonded and we got together and made an alliance with all four men. So I thought we had a pretty good thing goin’.

So Debbie wasn’t a part of that, for example?

Umm no. I mean, we was riding - we was gonna ride Debbie as the fifth wheel so we would have the majority of the votes if we had to go to Council. But really she wasn’t a part - she really wasn’t going to be a part of the Final Four once we made our move.

Going back to your military background, I know you said in the premiere you weren’t going to mention it to other people. Did it ever come out? Or did they never find out?

Well, one night I kinda let it - I think it was like day - I can’t remember what day it was - but we was all sitting around talking about each other’s backgrounds. And I kinda let it - I kinda let it slip out that I had been to Afghanistan. And then all the questions came out on me like “Blah blah blah - this and that.” And I said “Uh oh. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that.”

How did that plan fall apart? Were you just feeling really comfortable with them?

In a way I was but I kinda - I got too relaxed and one of the teammates made a comment about what everybody had done and it was mostly exciting things people had done in their lives and blah blah blah and it came out that - most of the adventurous things we had did. That popped up outta nowhere.

Did Brendan ever mention that he had 50 million dollars from a granola business?

No, in fact when we was doing all the talk’n and spilling the beans he denied being a millionaire but we finally got it out of him.

So how did you get it out of him?

We just kept asking him questions and then finally he said “Yeah, I’m the guy that created -” whatever he created.

Bear Naked Granola. And did it ever get back, I guess from Brendan, that Taj was married to Eddie George?

Yeah, we all, we all knew that, too. We knew she was married to Eddie George and we found out just a lot of stuff about different people from different interactions. Yeah.

It’s always interesting to me because last season they had an Olympic Gold Medalist on and she said “Of course I’m not going to tell everyone I’m an Olympic Gold Medalist.” But everybody apparently knew the whole time.

Right. I don’t know how the word gets out. I guess if you’re a person like that and you’ve been on TV a lot you can’t hide it. Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Of course when I read your bio I thought “Homer Simpson plays Survivor” which you probably get all the time.

‘Bout everybody tells me, man, you work at a nuclear power plant - you shoulda just been glow’n and we wouldn’t have needed any fire.

If you don’t mind me asking what kind of work do you do there? I’m guessing it’s completely different from anything we’ve seen on The Simpsons but I don’t know anything about it.

I’m what you call a Nuclear Equipment Operator. I work with the Operations Department and we help run the plant. Make electricity.

[At this point I ask a dunderheaded question.] So you’re kind of like an office manager?

No, I’m more like a field worker. I just go out and check equipment and stuff like that and if there’s problems I get on the computer, write up the problem and the maintenance guys go out and fix it.

You’ve gotta be disappointed, I would think. What’s the most disappointing thing about getting kicked off this early?

Well, my goal was to be in at least the top four or five left on the show - and if not - my ultimate goal was to win it but my second best, I at least wanted to be four or five or somewhere in there. I felt pretty confident that I could have made it that far if I hadn’t got sick. But I think it’s pretty - I am disappointed but I’m not disappointed that I didn’t make it that far. But I am disappointed that I went out the way I did.

So would you do it again?

Probably not. I figure one experience is enough for a lifetime for me under those circumstances. If I was a lot younger - if I was in my twenties I’d say “Yeah, send me out there again.”

Do you regret it, though?

Oh, no, no, no. I have no regrets at all. None. That was an experience I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren and my great grandchildren and everybody I talk to. I had a great time. I enjoyed it. Just seeing myself on TV - just being on TV was the thrill of a lifetime for me.

Did you have everyone you know over and everyone you ever met talking to you?

Oh yeah. The first episode - we had about 25 or 30 people in my house. We just sat down and had a good time. It was worth it. If a person got an opportunity to go on the show I would tell them not to even hesitate to go. 

I’m really glad to hear that. It was a pleasure talking to you, Jerry.

You too.

-Henry Jenkins, BuddyTV Staff Writer
(Image courtesy of CBS)