December 24, 2007 02:43 PM by Ryan Haidet
He’s $100,000 richer courtesy of America’s vote. James Clement, the grave digger from Louisiana was not only the most popular player of “Survivor: China,” but made it to the jury and had some memorable moves that will go down in the game’s history. After the live reunion show, this gentle giant talked with Reality TV Magazine’s Ryan Haidet out on the red carpet.
Reality TV Magazine: Hello James. First of all, you seemed to be the hardest working contestant in
China. What is it like working with a bunch of lazy tribe mates?
James: Yeah I got frustrated a lot. But I understand those people – the beauty queen, the flight attendant and a poker player – they don’t work all that much. I understood that. You just do what you have to do. It’s frustrating at times but I understood.
RTVMAG: In your pre-show interviews you seemed concerned about the social aspect of the game. How do you think you did socially?
James: I definitely started out quiet but I guess I’m a fast learner. I had to do what I had to do. I had to adapt. It’s one of the things that you have to do in this game – be a little more social. I’m probably still not the best social guy, but it definitely helped me out. I’ve definitely learned a lot and it’s nice. I just had a great time.
RTVMAG: In last season’s “Survivor” viewers saw Earl and Yau-Man share an immunity idol. You had two, or so it seemed. Were they both really in your possession the whole time?
James: I was like the gatekeeper; I definitely had both the idols. Held onto them with a tight grip – a little too tight because I didn’t use them.
RTVMAG: Were you thinking of using them?
James: Every night at Tribal Council. You never know what’s gonna happen.
RTVMAG: Do you regret not using them?
James: I definitely regret that. The only one (thing) I pretty much regret. I had a great time, I had fun. Everything else was just great. I lived in the woods. I met people. I had the chance to be more sociable, I guess, and smile. People like me. They got me some money. It’s great.
RTVMAG: You became the favorite and were given $100,000 following a nationwide vote. What does that feel like?
James: It’s odd. I’m so not Mr. Talk or Mr. Social Guy or Mr. Popularity. But I’m enjoying it. It’s fun, it’s a great experience.
RTVMAG: What are your plans for the money?
James: I’m gonna put some back in the business, but party. I’m gonna have fun with it. I’ve been stuck in the jungle. It’s time to enjoy life and embrace everything else. So I’m just gonna have a great time.
RTVMAG: Who did you vote for to win the game and take the $1 million?
James: I voted for Courtney because she came into the game not really knowing anything about the game. She definitely wasn’t a physical threat, but she tried. She was out there in camp working. She made it to the final three not knowing anything. (When) I came into the game, at least I had the physical aspect. I just had to learn the social game.
RTVMAG: Todd was a huge fan of the show before playing. Were you?
James: I’m a reality-show junkie. I watch ‘em all. I seriously do. I mean, that was one I had to be on. When the chance came up, I had to take it. It’s like, dude, I’m on ‘Survivor.’ I didn’t believe it, I still don’t believe it.
RTVMAG: During the game you were a part of the tribal-swap twist. Explain your thoughts on that.
James: I was definitely upset to be leaving the food. We had just gotten everything established. We were catching food, we were eating a lot. I knew they didn’t. I knew they weren’t. They hadn’t been winning. And then once I got there after the throwing of the competition, I was just mad. I couldn’t believe they had done that and they were so smug about it. It killed me. I’m not the guy to sit there and beg, ‘Please let me stay, please let me stay. , If you’re gonna send me home just send me home now. Just don’t play with me.’
RTVMAG: Favorite moment?
James: The popularity and winning the money. That’s a great thing. What else could beat that? I’m still enjoying that, that’s my best time and I’ll remember that forever.
RTVMAG: With your newfound fame and fortune, will you be going back to digging graves?
James: It’s my job. It’s probably what I’m gonna do for the rest of my life.
Well, the tribe has spoken on “Survivor: China,” the 15th season of the reality giant. Who will be the next person to join the club as the 16th millionaire? Tune in on Thursday, February 7, to watch the battle begin on “Survivor: Micronesia – Fans Vs. Favorites.”