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Survivor: Nicaragua — Holly Surprised Herself Coming In 4th Place

December 24, 2010 04:00 PM by Ryan Haidet


I have interviewed many Survivor contestants since season 13, but one thing I realized while standing on the red carpet after the finale for Survivor: Nicaragua last weekend — many members of the cast are extremely tall — especially fourth-place finisher Holly Hoffman.  This resulted in an interesting start to my interview with Holly who offered to take her shoes off to do the interview so the angle on camera would look a bit more level.  Once we got beyond that goofy moment (she kept her shoes on since the carpet was soggy from the constant rain), Holly discussed many portions of the game starting with her struggles early on when she wanted to quit the competition.  She also explained how champion NFL coach Jimmy Johnson helped keep her motivated before detailing why she stole Dan’s shoes and set them adrift in the ocean.

Read on to watch video of the interview on the red carpet.

Check out Ryan Haidet’s red carpet interview with Holly Hoffman:

RealityTVMagazine: First of all, congratulations Holly for making it to the final four.

Holly Hoffman: I actually did.  I actually really surprised myself, because look at the beginning of my game.  I was ready to leave.  I got out there, I was very overwhelmed.  I was double-guessing myself why I was here.  I missed my family horribly.  The no sleep.  The no eating.  But after the talk with Jimmy Johnson, I pulled myself together and I just kept going.  There were so many times where I would go to Tribal Council and I’d have all my stuff packed thinking, “Just in case I’m going home, I’m taking my stuff.”  And I would make it through.  I was surprised at the way I finished.


RTVMag: So is Jimmy Johnson the reason you made it that far?  Do you really credit him with that?

Holly Hoffman: At the beginning of the game I do, because I was ready to leave — I was totally 100 percent.  I had it in my mind that I was done.  When I sat on the log, and we had a very long conversation, he said to me, “Have you ever quit anything in your life?”  I said, “Never.”  He said, “What would your children think if you quit?”  That just kind of hit me.  I thought, “I can’t quit.”  I remember getting up, walking back to camp, saying sorry to Dan and admitting what I did about the shoes.  I thought, “I need to play this game.”

I did have a little luck come my way with picking the blue rock and getting in with the kids.  Tyrone winning the challenge, because I feel like the one challenge at the beginning, I probably would have gone home if he wouldn’t of won that challenge right after the shoe incident.  So I did have a little bit of luck come my way.


RTVMag: You brought up the shoe incident.  We might as well go there.  What exactly happened?  Talk a little bit about that because when you’re in a game where if you make a move like that you risk getting voted off, what were you thinking?

Holly Hoffman: You know, I didn’t sleep in three days.  I didn’t eat.  It was just a weird feeling.  I can’t explain it.  Dan just got under my skin ’cause he was constantly bragging about how he was recruited for the show and he didn’t have to apply.  He has these expensive shoes on; his sweater was $800.  He just got under my skin.  Jill got under my skin.  It was just a real big emotional thing.  After I did it I was like, “What did I just do?”  That’s why I felt like I had to go back and say sorry.  After I got over the hump, then I kept going.  It’s just really hard to explain.


RTVMag: It was kind of a unique situation because you needed some motivation from Jimmy Johnson in the beginning, but then you flipped it and became a motivator for other people in your group.

Holly Hoffman: You know, someone asked me that question.  They said, “Why did you try to convince Purple Kelly and NaOnka to stay?”  I said, “Why did Jimmy Johnson do it for me?”  Maybe that’s just the coaching in both of us.  I coach a swim team.  Maybe just the encouragement of that.  I remember how it felt after I didn’t quit.  I kept going, and I made it that far.  There were 11 days left, and I just remember saying to Purple Kelly, “Wouldn’t it be better if you got voted off than to walk off?”  I knew they had to make up their own mind.  I could give them advice just like a normal teenager, and they had to decide what they were gonna do.


RTVMag: Talk about that moment you gave up that Reward to go watch the movie with friends from the game, and you gave it up, but NaOnka didn’t.

Holly Hoffman: I really thought that if I got up, and I took the tarp and rice, NaOnka would maybe feel like, “You know what I should do this.  I’m going home.  I’m going to be eating in three hours.  But she didn’t.  That was my decision.  Was it wrong on her part?  Maybe.  I really feel that she would have probably left the game maybe in a little bit better terms if she would have done that saying, “Well I got this for you guys.  I’m leaving, but here I’m leaving something behind.”  But also at that point in the game I just remember it was really raining, and our tarp from the fire had holes in it.  We hardly had any rice left, and we had 11 days left.  Honestly, my first thought was we need to eat.  We need to have rice.  I’m glad that we got it or else we wouldn’t have made it through.  But, you know, NaOnka probably should have taken the initiative to get up and get that stuff.


RTVMag: Let’s jump back way to the start of the game.  The battle of young versus old was the big twist at the beginning.  If you look at the battle of young versus old, you won the battle of the old I guess because you were the last of the 40 and 0lder standing.  How does that make you feel?

Holly Hoffman: I didn’t feel like I fit in with my tribe right away.  Jane and I kind of felt that.  Jimmy T. felt that a little bit.  When I walked off the game, I was the last woman in the game, I was the last Espada member.  It’s a fantastic feeling, because in episode two who would have actually thought it would have been me?  But once I got going in the game, and I started playing the game, that’s when I really kept moving forward.  I was a little shocked, but I was glad.


RTVMag: You spent your wedding anniversary in Nicaragua.  What was that like seeing your husband out there with you guys for that challenge?

Holly Hoffman: I just remember when I got accepted on the show, and that crossed my mind.  I said, “Oh my gosh, that’s gonna be our 25th wedding anniversary.”  When I got to the top 10, I kept thinking, “Top six.  Top six.  Charlie could come.  Top six.  Top six.”  That was the best anniversary gift we ever gave each other.  Because seeing Charlie come running around the corner, and then doing the challenge, and then getting to go on the Reward, it was fantastic.  I also think that it made Charlie realize what I was actually doing.  You can sit there and watch it on television, but with him being right there and seeing how dirty I was, and all the bug bites I had and the open sores on my feet, it made him appreciate a little bit more when I got home.


Check out Ryan Haidet’s red carpet interview with the winner of Survivor: Nicaragua — Jud “Fabio” Birza:


Check out Ryan Haidet’s red carpet interview with runner-up Chase Rice:


Check out Ryan Haidet’s red carpet interview with Matthew “Sash” Lenahan:



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Red carpet photos taken by Olivia Mash.  All other images courtesy of CBS.

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