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Survivor: Cagayan Interview — LJ McKanas Wants To Play Again… Badly

April 17, 2014 12:53 PM by Ryan Haidet


It was another beautiful blindside.  Tony Vlachos orchestrated a chaotic scheme to vote LJ McKanas, a horse trainer from Massachusetts, out of Survivor: Cagayan.  His plan worked and LJ, the “horse whisperer,” found himself seated on the jury.  Although LJ says he is bitter about Tony’s decision, he doesn’t hold it against him.  Instead, LJ repeated multiple times in our interview that Tony is the only person truly playing the game.  In our chat, LJ also revealed why he’s frustrated with Trish Hegarty, explains why he’s been in touch with casting about the possibility of playing the game again and reveals what “LJ” actually stands for.

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Question: Firstly, what does LJ stand for?

LJ McKanas: It stands for Leon Joseph.


Question: Did you have any clue you were getting voted out?

LJ McKanas: I had absolutely zero idea.  I thought with all my purchasing power and buying into this loyal alliance with a plan and sticking to it, that I bought myself some insurance.  I was comfortable.  I had no idea.  In hindsight, when I’m watching it and I see Trish having a conversation with him (Tony) and telling him that I said this, why don’t you come to me?  Tell me that he said it. …  Instead of doing anything about it, you’re gonna sit on it?  What does that hold for your future?  It’s frustrating.  I had no idea.  Had she come to me when he expressed his volatility, it could have been different.  Not having any sort of idea, is a perfect scenario for, what I consider, to be the biggest blindside of the game.


Question: How long did you envision yourself working with Tony?

LJ McKanas: I consider myself a pretty smart player.  I know that he is playing a game and he’s playing a strong game, for better or worse.  I think he was the only one actually playing.  It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to make the decision for me to bring him further than the original plan of six.  I ran numbers every single day and ran personalities and ran loyalties and trust.  I don’t think this would have been the most opportune time to make a move on Tony.  But he was the biggest threat that I had in the game and I couldn’t have taken him further than six.


Question: Are you bitter toward Tony?

LJ McKanas: Well, of course I’m bitter!  Now I have to watch the game from a rock on a bench (on the jury) and watch him manipulate.  Of course I’m bitter.  But I’m also a very big fan and a bigger fan of the game.  Whether it was based on emotions, paranoia or whatever it is, I can’t discount the fact that he made the decision to remove, in my personal opinion, the biggest threat for him in the game.  He understood that eventually I’m gonna have to take him out, or if he’s sitting next to me, I’m gonna be his biggest threat to winning the game.  So I can’t be mad at his play. …  The reason I played my Idol for him was partly to ensure our alliance.  It’s one thing saying something, and another thing doing.  I’m using an invaluable piece of this game to prove my loyalty to you.  I’m with you to the end.  I did not need to play it.  Some people think I’m stupid, but it was the numbers, it was the voting.  He is the only one playing this game and I need to keep him as close as humanly possible to go further in this game.


Question: So you do think Tony is playing a good game?

LJ McKanas: I gotta be honest.  I think the only one playing the game is Tony.  Woo is just running around.  Spencer is doing the best that he can.  Tasha is just trying to get through Immunity challenges to see if she can make it to the end.  Everyone else is just kind of waiting to see who is gonna do what.  For better or worse, Tony is the only one playing the game.  That’s why I needed to keep him as close as I could. …  All I was doing was giving him options to soothe his anxiety and he took it, ran with it and used it.  I wish that Trish had come to me openly and said, “This is where he is.  What do we do?”  Or call me a liar.  Just to sit on that.  You’re not playing.  You’re sitting there comfortable knowing that you’re not going.  So she’s not playing either.  I think Tony is the only one playing the game.


Question: Who were you wanting to go to the end of the game with?

LJ McKanas: I think for the best outcome for myself, I would have been sitting next to Jefra and I would have been sitting next to Kass.

Question: Do you have any regrets?

LJ McKanas: Yeah.  Since the day I got home, I have been in touch with casting, like on a weekly and daily basis saying, “This is eating me up.  This is tearing me to pieces.”  It eats me up to know I had played such a boring game because Tony has such a bold personality. …  I was hoping to not bring extra attention on myself and to let Tony spiral out.  That’s why I purchased his loyalty and let him be the face of the army.  Tony was getting votes and it caused him to spiral out of control.  Unfortunately, I can’t sit back and think I would do anything different even though that game has kicked my ass back home.  It’s very difficult and frustrating.  I’ll take a shower, clean the stalls for the horses and say to myself, “Should I have done this?  What am I gonna do next time?”  I already have a full game played in my head if I’m given the opportunity.  I know how to conform to people and play different personalities.  The only thing that frustrates me is that I had to play such a boring game.  But I had to do that so I wouldn’t be up in the limelight.  Had I done that, I think I would have been home a long time sooner.


Question: So you would play the game again (laughs)?

LJ McKanas: Oh, hell yeah!  I’m there!  100 percent.  I’m already there.  I already have the game played in my head.  If they said to come out in two weeks, I wouldn’t even pack anything.  I would come out a week early.  I’m so ready and such a competitive person. …  I played such an honest and loyal game because everyone allowed me to.  I now have an opportunity to play a whole different game and have so much fun.  I’m on edge ready to do this again (laughs).


Question: How did you get on the show?

LJ McKanas: I sent a tape in.  I was training my horses down in Tampa, and for years and years and years I would say to myself, “Let me see if I can apply.”  But I would always miss it.  Last year, or the year prior, I set up a little Flip cam on a post at the track and I said, “This is who I am.  You’ve never had a horse trainer on here.  If I told you I knew everything about chicks, I’d be a fucking liar” (laughs).  They called me back and we went from there.  It was just an amazing thing to actually get on that way.


What do you think of LJ’s comments?  Are you sad he was voted out of the game?  Would you ever want to see him play again?  Sound off and leave a comment in the section below. 

Photos: CBS

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Topics: CBS Reality TV Shows, Survivor |

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8 Responses to “Survivor: Cagayan Interview — LJ McKanas Wants To Play Again… Badly”

  1. Rashad Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Great interview, nicely done. I think LJ is a cool guy and he deserves another chance, but honestly he deserved to go for being comfortable as stated by himself in the interview which is something proved to be a NO..NO on Survivor.
    I wish LJ and the writer all the best. Thanks

  2. Nathan Says:
    April 17th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    sad that he was hot and left, but since he was kind of dumb, he had to go…

  3. Star Says:
    April 20th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Tony was the only one playing the game? Tasha tried to get Tony out, but LJ wouldn’t even hear her out and ended up getting voted out!

    I can’t really see LJ being an All-Star. He killed the puzzles, but his social game was poor and Tony, Tasha, Spencer, Trish, Sarah, and Kass are far bigger players.

  4. Leonarda Capangpangan Says:
    April 21st, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I would like to see LJ play again. He’s great at puzzles, easy on the eyes. Give him chance to show his social skills.

  5. Brenda Says:
    April 24th, 2014 at 7:12 am

    LJ played under the radar, did not exert himself as leader so as his tribemates may not be threatened. He must not trust anyone with his life next time unless there will be someone like Jefra and Trish to watch his back. He’s hot which makes that the reason for him to return to Survivor. Fans like me will be glad to see him grace the TV screen once more.

  6. jOjO Says:
    April 24th, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    It was so sad to see LJ voted out. I never had like that tony.

  7. Ryan Haidet Says:
    April 25th, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Rashad… Thanks for the kind words! Glad to see you all enjoyed my interview with LJ. Be sure to check back on this site every week for exclusive interviews with every eliminated castaway. Plus, I will be at the finale on May 21 to offer red carpet updates. Follow me @RyanSurvivor on Twitter for an inside look.

    Thanks again!

  8. sandra Says:
    April 25th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Noooooooo not Lj! I wish he had gone further in the game. He was my favorite by far. I don’t know y he was called boring. I didnt think he was at all.I liked his game.


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