December 19, 2008 01:09 PM by Ryan Haidet
He experienced Gabon’s wildlife like a wide-eyed child, proposed to his girlfriend and finished near the top of the pack. Matty Whitmore, a 30-year-old personal trainer from Pacific Palisades, California, came in fourth place on Survivor: Gabon and told all about his experience during an exclusive interview with RealityTVMagazine.com on the red carpet after the live finale.
Matty was eliminated after Bob Crowley — the eventual winner of the $1 million — made fire quicker than he did in a tie-breaker challenge. “That felt pretty horrible because looking over at Bob — the ultimate Survivor — the guy’s got skills that I don’t know where they come from, but he’s got them. I probably defeated myself prior to the whole thing because I was intimidated and I knew Bob’s ability out there — his ability to make fire and make cages and traps and forts. He’s the man. I was nervous.”
It ended up being the challenge that cost him $1 million because the majority of the jury said they would have voted for him to win had he made it to the final three instead of Bob. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t disappointing,” Matty said. “It’s very disappointing, but somebody told me after the show, ‘You give a man a fish, he eats for a day. You teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.’ That is what’s been holding me together. Having faith in that statement alone that it’s gonna be all right.”
Many moments throughout the season, the extensive wildlife was showcased like never before. One of the most memorable involved Ace and Matty in a boat watching an elephant across the river. “When we first got to Gabon, the animals kind of scattered because humans were in there and they’ve never experienced that before. So once they started getting a little bit more comfortable with us being on their turf, they started coming a little closer and coming a little closer.” They saw much more than elephants, though. “We saw monkeys; snakes. We would in the middle of the night hear giant hissing sounds of cats — like giant panther cats. We’d see alligators in the lake from a distance. We’d see leaches — get them all over your body. Bugs everywhere. We got to experience a good amount of wildlife.”
What would have happened had one of the dangerous or large animals wandered into camp and posed a threat? “With the group I was in at Fang, we never really had a plan,” Matty admitted. “We were kind of just the Bad News Bears. There was no semblance, no order, so there was no plan.”
But Matty did have a different plan up his sleeve and that was revealed when his girlfriend Jamie had the chance to visit him in Gabon during the game — he asked for her hand in marriage. The contestants had competed in a reward challenge to be able to watch a video featuring their loved ones, but little did they know that they were already in Gabon. “That day when we lost the challenge, Bob got to go. I was devastated because that moment is what I was playing the game for almost. That was what was getting me through. Survivor keeps you guessing at all times and they kept Jamie guessing and they kept me guessing. And the moment she came over that knoll and I saw her — it was the most surreal moment of my life and I’ll never forget it. And I’m so grateful to Survivor for providing me that opportunity. I didn’t know how much time I was going to have with her because they never tell you, so before she walked away from me I wanted her to know that I really did care for her and I loved her.”
While standing alongside a river, Matty pulled out a necklace he had made for Jamie and got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. She said yes.
As for the villains of the season, Matty said they were very different people. “I really enjoyed Randy out there because in the game of Survivor everybody’s lying to you, everybody’s deceiving you. Randy may be abrasive, may be a little rude — he doesn’t lie to you and I really appreciated that out there. Corinne, on the other hand, was hard for me to deal with. She was awfully negative and I didn’t want to really spend much more time out in the jungle with her necessarily. She’s a great person, I’m sure. But in the jungle it got a little tiring.”
When it was all over with and his torch was snuffed, Matty got a sweet treat. “First thing when I got off the show, I arrived at Pondersa and I was greeted with chocolate and peanut butter by my buddy, Kenny.”
For anybody interested in competing on Survivor, Matty has this advice — “Be yourself. Live in the moment. Don’t play in the future, don’t play in the past. Just focus on the task at hand and you’ll be fine.”
Read an exclusive interview with fifth-place finisher Kenny Hoang here.
Stay tuned for more exclusive red-carpet interviews with castaways from Survivor: Gabon.
Images from the red carpet taken by Ryan Haidet at the Survivor: Gabon finale in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 14. Final image on the red carpet (below) was taken by Dennis Luciani.It features RealityTVMagazine.com’s Ryan Haidet interviewing Matty.
Other images courtesy of Jeffrey R. Staab and Monty Brinton/CBS.
For other great Survivor news, please feel free to check out SirLinksALot: Survivor Gabon. Discuss on our reality TV message boards. You can also read more about each of this season’s contestants by checking out our Survivor bios page.