CBS’s landmark reality TV series “Survivor” began its 35th season on Wednesday night with 18 new castaways divided into three tribes based on their perceived traits as Heroes, Healers and Hustlers. Katrina Radke was the first castaway eliminated, a 46-year-old Olympic swimmer from Excelsior, Minnesota who was part of the Heroes tribe. What did Katrina think of her short three days in Fiji? Was NFL player Alan Ball really that wild and crazy? And what didn’t we get to see on TV?
Listen to our exit interview podcast with Katrina above, or read the full transcript below. Keep making your predictions for who will win “Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers” and who you think will be voted out next.
Gold Derby: Hello, Katrina!
Katrina Radke: Where are you located?
GD: I am here in Los Angeles in my apartment and what about you?
KR: Okay. I’m in Minnesota looking at the lake (laughs).
GD: Oh, pretty!
KR: Sunshine on the lake, yeah. I’m sure it’s colder here, though. It’s like 55 or 60 [degrees] already.
GD: Oh wow. Yeah, it’s pretty hot here. What was the weather like in Fiji?
KR: It was hot. When I was leaving Minnesota in late March where here it was probably 50-ish, and so getting there I think it was 85 or 90 with humidity and so that was definitely warmer than what I had here, but that felt so good. You know, that humidity just feels good sometimes. The first two nights was rough, though. Pre-game we were sleeping in these tents and that was hot! I would’ve rather been outside on the grass.
GD: Am I correct in thinking you’re the very first Olympian to appear on Survivor?
KR: I think I’m the second maybe, I think it was one other person who was a track runner.
GD: Oh, okay. Gotcha. But you’re the first swimmer?
KR: Yeah, don’t you think they should have a tribe of Olympians? Wouldn’t that be awesome?
GD: That would be amazing. I’m trying to get them to do an all-winners season where they bring back all the winners.
KR: Oh that’d be fun too. That’d be very fun. How about all the winners getting off first?
GD: Yes, as a fan I don’t like that. I like to see them go to the end.
GD: You performed in the 1988 Summer Olympics, and how does that compare to the “Survivor” experience? Are there any similarities at all?
KR: Well the similarity is that you have to test yourself and stay focused on what your vision is and what you wanna create for yourself, but there’s a lot of differences, obviously. I mean, I remember talking to Alan about this, it’s not like you could go train a certain amount of hours per day so many days a week and then all of a sudden be winning “Survivor.” Because there’s so many twists and turns that they create for the drama of the show that will not give you… there’s no guarantee on that. Whereas like if I had a bad performance in swimming I could go, “Okay, I need to work on x, y and z and I can go do that, so then come back and do better next time.” Whereas this game, even the challenges you don’t do again, you know?
KR: I think it’d be cool to have all those challenges in a big retreat place. You’d get to do like 10 challenges, it’d be really fun.
GD: What was the audition process like for you? Did you send in a tape or was it something else?
KR: I sent in a tape, or downloaded a video or whatever and then got a call in late November and then went to a Finals week in January for a week in Los Angeles, where you see other potential cast members but you don’t talk to them and you’re in your own hotel rooms and you can’t leave your room. And then you do medical tests and psych evals and all that good stuff and then you go home and then a couple weeks later you get a call saying, “You’re going!” And so that’s what happened for me anyway. Then like a month later, or six weeks later or whatever it was, I was off to Fiji.
GD: Wow, and was it something you’ve wanted to do for a long time?
KR: It’s interesting, I had applied when it first came, I think the second show I had applied for and never heard anything. And then I had watched the show a bit for the first few years and then not for eight or so years, and then my kids and my husband and I have started watching it again about five years ago maybe, and really just loved the games in particular, really fun to see how they create them, and obviously just to see how people handle living off of nature and all that, and there’s some beautiful spots they get to go to. So yeah, it’s definitely a thing off my bucket list I’ve really wanted to be able to do and I feel blessed that I got to be part of it. It’s definitely a cool thing to be off my bucket list I guess, if you will.
GD: So let’s talk about the Tribal Council. The vote was 1 vs. 5. First of all, why did you vote out Ashley?
KR: So there’s a lot not shown because of the editing, but there was a point where Chrissy and Ben and Alan and I were potentially gonna vote Ashley, and there was stuff that happened before Alan got paranoid and made JP drop his pants and basically what happened was Ashley and I were talking for awhile, that made Alan nervous, came over to Ashley after that and then to JP and then said, “Katrina told me that you guys have the Idol,” so he used my name to tell him that and then he came over to Ben and told him that, and then I called him on this basically ‘cause I found out from Ben but then at that point nobody trusted anybody, not that anybody really had. But then, and on top of that from before that, Chrissy was not really eager to work with me because of our age; she was all into the age thing. So yeah, we had a really unique group. There was different times where I could’ve worked with Ashley and JP or Chrissy and Ben maybe, or Alan. Alan and I, he was eager to work with ‘cause of our athletic background. As the game goes along and obviously I was in there a very short amount of time but it was… you can see as the game goes along like Day 25 and 30 I’m sure it gets worse and worse and worse in terms of people being paranoid, maybe.
GD: Right. And a lot of fans were wondering if Chrissy might use that Super Idol to save you. You didn’t know anything about the Super Idol, right, until later on? You didn’t know at the time.
KR: Right, correct. Yes. I hear you and I see why the fans felt that way, based on what they saw on TV, because it shows a certain version of what happens, which is not exactly how it all is, and so, don’t be mad at Chrissy. (laughs) She was just doing everything to protect herself. At the same time with that being said it would’ve been nice if she had used it for me, but I think from the beginning she kinda didn’t really want me around because of our similarity in age. I think that threatened her. And I knew when I got there that I was going home and I was at peace with it. It’s a funny thing, you know, I really believed I could win this game too at the same time, but I also know sometimes these things kinda happen and it’s okay. It doesn’t change who I am. You win some, you lose some. I ended up having my whole real “Survivor” experience ended up becoming really my most inspiring piece of the show, not just the show but my trip was really being able, after the game being able to embrace the people that came off, and create our own tribe. So that has its own energy and experience vs. my experience during the game. My game experience was really short.
GD: And one of your teammates came off as kind of a crazy person on television. I’m just curious, what was it like being on the beach with Alan? Was he that wild and crazy guy the whole time or again, was it kind of an editing thing?
KR: That depends I guess. I think that moment obviously set him off, and yeah. It’s unfortunate that happened for him. He wasn’t exactly at peace, was he? So yeah.
GD: When you first landed on the beach and you looked around at your tribe, you see an NFL player, you see an ex-Marine and a lifeguard and a firefighter and there’s another mom. Did you immediately feel like this tribe is gonna kick some butt or were you kind of worried being with all of these “heroes,” of which you were one of the heroes?
KR: Yeah, you know it’s funny. The hero is a label that everybody puts on us because of, like Jeff said, these are projections that people put onto you and how they label you and I think in the end, yes, I did take it in, mindful of the fact that “Okay, people are gonna know that I’m an Olympian, I’m gonna have to address this somehow.” That was more my issue in my head, more than “Oh my gosh am I actually really a hero?” And you know, in my life I’ve have people address that whole piece but in the end, we all are much more than these labels that we’ve put on each other, and that’s the interesting part of this game is we can create this perception of how we see the world or other people based on our limited beliefs, and if we stay stuck in that place we’re not gonna really see them for who they really are. And so, I was really open to seeing who are these people, I’m gonna get to know them over time. “How are they gonna react in this time as we’re together and how am I gonna react, and how does that work?” There’s a lot of beauty that comes in with all that. I think as a tribe we did a great job working together building our shelter and getting food together and getting water. It was all pretty seamless on that stuff, and yet there’s moments like Alan’s deal where people just have a bad moment or a few that cause other stuff to come up for them.
GD: Well here’s one final question. I know you have to run and do other interviews. This is from John Benutty, he does a live blog on “Survivor” each Wednesday. He says, ‘cause this is only a one-hour premiere, usually they’re longer, it felt like a lot of the strategies were not shown on TV. So is there anything that you did like a strategic move that you did that you were really hoping would come true but didn’t happen?
KR: Well the big one that I just wanted to see the footage of is me looking for the Idol. I spent about two hours looking for the Idol. The island is huge, and it could be anywhere, right? And so I look around the well, I dug probably a good five feet around the whole well. I looked up and down trees, I climbed trees and I looked in holes of trees, I looked on the trees to see. I never saw, like you know how on the Internet they say how there’s these markers on trees? So I never saw any of that, so who knows if that’s later. But I personally did not see it on my island at the time that I was on the show, but there’s a time where I was climbing a tree and there’s a hole and this crab came popping out and I was just like “Ah!” The camera guy had to jump back ‘cause I was jumping off the tree. So I would’ve just liked to see that scene. It was kinda funny. And I also did a lot of martial arts around the beach in the morning early before everybody got up. So I would’ve loved to have seen that, too with the sun rising. But in terms of strategy, oh yeah. I spoke up especially we got into this whole Alan thing, I spoke up about that. I also said to Ashley, I tried to get her to get back and JP kinda didn’t know what to do after this whole Alan thing happened, I’m like “come on guys we can work together.” And then at this point I also tried to work with Chrissy. There’s so much shifts all the time and anything can happen. At the same time, our tribe was just… unfortunately we lost the challenge and we had to go to Tribal Council, and that’s just the way it is and that’s part of the game of “Survivor.” You win some, you lose some. It doesn’t change who you are. You get to still really appreciate the game. I’m just so thankful I got to play. I just wish it was longer than it was.
GD: Well thank you so much for chatting with us today. Enjoy your beautiful view of the lake there.
KR: I will. Thank you!
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