December 18, 2008 03:12 PM by Ryan Haidet
Kenny Hoang called himself the mastermind of Survivor: Gabon after he convinced others to knock out major players several times throughout the game. Kenny, a fast-talking 22-year-old, spilled secrets about his strategies immediately after the Survivor finale on Sunday. He talked all about his alliances, a deal he made with Bob and the fact that he didn’t go to the bathroom for more than half his game.
Coming in fifth place, Kenny’s fate was sealed after a deal he had made with Bob fell through. Kenny said Bob had agreed to hand over the immunity necklace if he won it at the next challenge. This would make up for the lie Bob told to Kenny about the fake idol he fashioned in an effort to save Corinne. “When I talked to Bob that night, my plan was for him to give me the immunity necklace since he was on an immunity run and such a huge threat,” Kenny said. “I didn’t even ask for it — he was the one who came up and he’s like, ‘OK, I’ll give you immunity if you don’t win the next time.’”
As luck would have it, Bob won the next immunity challenge and when the time came to give it to Kenny, he backed out. “When we went on the reward that night I was like, ‘Are you really being genuine or are you lying to me?’ I kind of thought, like no way he’s going to give it up. He’s probably going to lie to me. So when we went on the reward, he kind of made up extra things to attach to it — extra baggage — to the deal. The deal was, if he won it, he’d give it to me.”
Kenny claims that Bob added on a new part to the deal agreeing to only give away his idol if he felt Kenny was threatened. “We went to Tribal that night, I was like, ‘OK, I want you to give it to me tonight.’ And he was like, ‘Uh, if I think you’re in danger I’ll give it to you.’ So I just wanted him to admit that he was lying to me and he was playing the game or something like that.”
He felt Bob, who ended up winning the game and the $1 million, should have admitted he was lying instead of acting as if he was only about keeping his integrity. “It’s Survivor — you have to lie in this game. Noone is a good guy. How can you determine who is good and who is evil? Everyone has lied in the game, everyone has done bad things.”
Although he may not have claimed the ultimate prize in Survivor, Kenny has made it big in the world of video gaming as the current international champion of Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers Melee. He said video gaming is much like Survivor. “In the gaming world, I’m known for being able to trick people, you know, out mind-game them. And I applied that to Survivor. I tried to make sure that I manipulated certain people to have them vote my way.”
When the competition first began, Kenny aligned with Michelle. “From the beginning of the game, I wanted to align myself with Michelle. I thought she was loyal; I wanted to keep her. But everybody wanted to vote her off because she wasn’t fighting out there. I wanted to get rid of Gillian because I thought Michelle was hella-strong. She would’ve probably helped us win challenges.” His hopes of keeping her in the game didn’t last long because Michelle was the first player voted off. “By then my whole alliance with Michelle was gone and I had to get an alliance with GC and Crystal afterward.”
That alliance he formed with Crystal stuck throughout the entire time the two of them were in the competition. “We had been on the same tribe since day one and we built a great relationship,” Kenny explained. “In the beginning, of course, I would never have expected myself to get along with Crystal — she’s huge compared to me. But we had a lot of things in common — she’s an Olympic champion and I’m a video game champion and we were on top of our game some time and we know how it feels to suffer and lose. We had a lot of things growing up in common and we got along really well. I knew she was going to be loyal to me and I knew I was going to be loyal to her no matter what. We just spent so many days together, we suffered so much to the point that we had to trust each other. We needed each other to stay in the game. Without her, I would have been gone; without me, she would’ve been gone. It was a mutual relationship.”
Kenny had plans of taking three others to the final four — at least until one of his partners bailed out on the game. “The turning point in the game was when GC quit on me because I picked Kelly out of a four-tight alliance — I wanted to take GC, Crystal and Kelly to the final four. And then GC quit and that ruined a lot of my plans, so I had to adapt.”
And adapt he did. He helped vote Ace out of the game before blindsiding Marcus. “Marcus didn’t play his cards right and he targeted me instead of Susie or Crystal. And when Marcus was off, the whole Kota alliance just went downhill.”
When asked what sticks in his mind most about the game, Kenny laughed and brought up the discussion of how many times he went to the bathroom. “I didn’t do number two for 22 days out there. We had no food at Fang. We had one spoonful of rice a day and I didn’t have the need to go. 22 days, until the fake merge feast and that’s when I ate a lot and I had to go. I felt better after I went.”
He also said the game showed him new experiences that he hopes to continue. “I’m actually getting more air now. I go out more, I don’t stay at home as much as I used to. Maybe I’ll go camping again. It was fun. I’m not stuck in the room most of the time anymore.”
For anybody who thinks they can take on Survivor, Kenny has this advice. “Don’t get overconfident. In Survivor, the game takes turns and twists. Always try to stay somewhat under the radar while calling the shots and try your best. Never give up.”
Stay tuned for more exclusive red-carpet interviews with castaways from Survivor: Gabon.
First image taken by Ryan Haidet on the red carpet at the Survivor: Gabon finale in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 14.
Other images courtesy of Jeffrey R. Staab and Monty Brinton/CBS.
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