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.
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Survivor: Cagayan Interview — J’Tia Taylor Defends Dumping Out The Rice
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Survivor: Cagayan Interview — Garrett Adelstein Reveals What Happened To His Hidden Idol
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SURVIVOR: CAGAYAN EPISODE RECAPS
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 8 Recap — A Beautiful Blindside
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 7 Recap — Goofiest Idol Hunt Ever!
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 6 Recap — Merge Madness
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 5 Recap — Big Fight Leads To Big Decision
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 4 Recap — Drop Your Buffs!
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 3 Recap — It’s Tough Throwing A Challenge
Survivor: Cagayan Episode 2 Recap — Let It Rain!
Survivor: Cagayan Premiere Recap — Brains Tribe? How About Dumbass Tribe?