To hear Brandon Hantz talk to the cameras about it, Mikayla Wingle was playing one of the most exciting games in “Survivor” history, flirting and conspiring and wrapping the entire tribe around her finger.
To hear the lingerie football player and former Playboy model talk about it, she never had a change, pushed to the fringes from the season’s opening moments by a rival castaway who brought his own personal biases into the game.
Who are you gonna trust? [We’re Team Mikayla in this particular standoff.]
She didn’t make it to the Merge, but at least Mikayla was at the center of a good portion of the season’s drama, even if the self-described tomboy wanted nothing to do with any of that drama.
In our exit interview, Mikayla discusses Brandon, eating pre-chewed meat, Ozzy’s risky move and which player from her tribe truly disappointed her.
HitFix: So how did you watch last night’s episode and with whom?
Mikayla Wingle: It’s funny. I’m actually on the road. I decided to take a road trip with some friends and we ended in New Orleans. So I was on the road and we stopped in Perry, Florida at a Pizza Hut and we were like “Can you turn this on?” and they turned it on for us, we were begging them, like “Please! It’s on at 8!” So they turned it on and I was with a bunch of my girlfriends and we just watched and it stunk. I knew it was coming and the only way I can put it is that it’s like a slap in the face, you know it’s coming, but it hasn’t happened yet. So we watched. We watched Ozzy’s whole thing and the challenge and I was there for that, and now it’s like me watching just like anybody else. I don’t know what’s going on and I’m taking everything in, watching it like every other viewer.
HitFix: So how have people been responding to you and what happened to you on “Survivor” this season?
Mikayla: A lot of people, they aren’t very happy. Between Twitter and Facebook and all of my friends, they feel like I, just off the bat, didn’t have a fair chance. Somebody brought their own personal problems in and tried to put a target on my back. And I feel like if Brandon didn’t come in and wasn’t crazy and going nuts like he was, I feel like I could have made it a lot further with a lot less heat. I just felt like people are supposed to come into this putting their personal life aside and play the game. He came in to play the game with his personal life right there and I feel like he approached it the wrong way. You see it throughout the show when he was telling Edna this and he was doing that and he was a loose cannon. So the feedback I get is like, “Miki, we wanted to see you play!” and once individual immunity came, they feel like I could have just dominated.
HitFix: It looked like for the first day or two of the game, you were in pretty good position, alliance-wise. But then Brandon turned on you. When did you start feeling like there was this pocket of anti-Mikayla sentiment growing?
Mikayla: I really didn’t know it, but Albert came up to me and he said, “Listen. Rick and Brandon are very intimidated by you and they want to vote you out.” At that point, my jaw went to the floor and I said, “Excuse me? What?” And he said, “Listen, we’re gonna work around this. Don’t worry about it. It’s gonna be OK.” So I said, “OK.” I put my trust in Al and it worked for me during the first Tribal and unfortunately Christine went home. Christine is off the chain. She’s awesome. It’s crazy. And the only thing I ever heard was, “He’s intimidated.” And I watched the show and it was like, “Oh. My. Gosh. What? He said that? He called me that?” It hurts, because I’m like, “He doesn’t even know me” and for him to judge, it definitely stung, but I had no idea.
HitFix: Following up on that, what was the Brandon you thought you knew in the South Pacific like compared to the Brandon you’ve gotten to see on TV?
Mikayla: Brandon’s funny… He’ll be around people and he’ll talk, but he’s just… Me and him never really got to talk on a personal level. He’ll talk overall, like “I did this…” or “My family…” and he never did like a lot of one-on-one. I remember him being like “What do you want to do when you get back?” and I was like, “I wanna go back to school. I need a degree. I need to go full-fledged toward this and I need to finish all this” and I seriously think that’s the most we ever talked about. I think he tried to avoid any personal stuff. I don’t know if it was a problem with his wife or what their trust problems were or this and that, but it definitely sucked. It set me back at the starting line and it stinks.
HitFix: What was the thing that he said about you on TV that surprised you most?
Mikayla: He just made up a lot of lies and said a lot of things to a lot of people, but I think the biggest thing was the Delilah thing. I was like, “What?!?” I’m like, “I would do what?!?” and then I was laughing and being like, “He doesn’t even know me!” From then on out, I was known as this temptress and I’m not even like that. I’m like the biggest tomboy ever. I’m the most loyal person. I’m like one of those ride-or-die, “Here you go. You can stab me in the back, but I still won’t hate you.” I’m loyal. And it stinks. So I think the Delilah thing was the biggest shock and then after that, it was rapid fire, here-we-go.
HitFix: In retrospect, is there anyone you wish had defended you? You had Albert and Sophie in your corner, but do you wish that Coach had stood up for you? Did you expect that he would?
Mikayla: Coach kinda did at the one Tribal, but I just think it’s his third time in this game and I think he knows wrong from right, if not by the third time, you’ve got a problem. But it really stunk at the last Tribal, I was very upset by Rick. Rick and I, we talked a lot. He was one of the few people who even knew I played in the football league, because we talked about him and his daughter and how she wanted to play and how she could throw a pass and all of these things. When I watched the episode, I didn’t know it came down to Rick and I’m very upset. I’m disappointed and it’s a letdown and I lost a little respect for him. I say to take the path less taken, know what I mean? Don’t follow everyone else. Do your own thing. Don’t be a follower. It’s funny, because I’m on Twitter a lot and everybody’s like, “Wait. There’s a guy with a mustache on the show? He never says anything.” And the fact that this came down to him, that this could have been his chance to stand up and do something and make a point on this show and he didn’t. He just followed with everybody else and let somebody else tell him what to do. I just wish he stood up and did something that he wanted to do and didn’t just follow the group. You know?
HitFix: But you did have Albert and Sophie very much in your corner. What was your relationship like with them?
Mikayla: Albert and Sophie, Day One they made an alliance and it stinks the fact that I was out of the whole Five thing, because I was in with the girls and I was trying to listen in and see what their alliances were and I was kinda doing the dirty work for everybody else and it bit me in the butt. But what are you gonna do? It’s a part of the game, OK? And it stunk because they were going around and they were doing this and doing that they were like, “Come on, the past two out of three seasons, past Survivors have won. Why are people listening to somebody who they know has a 66 percent chance of bringing home the money? Why?” I’m so grateful that Albert and Sophie were out there and did that and I gained so much respect for them going out there and putting their necks on the line and separating and dividing the tribe. I wish it worked out in my favor. But it’s a game. What are you going to do?
HitFix: You had kind words earlier for Christine. How impressed are you with how well she held up on Redemption Island?
Mikayla: Great! When I got to Redemption Island… Me and her, when we were back on the regular island before she got voted off, we talked, we BSed. She’s from New York. I’m from Jersey. We kinda hit it off right off the bat. We were coming back from the first challenge, with Ozzy and Coach, and she was like, “I can hear your accent are you from Jersey?” And I’m like “Yeah, you know.” And we started talking. And not having her around, she’d kinda become like a mother figure, or an aunt, whatever you want to call it. And getting to Redemption and seeing her, it was like, “Girl, listen to this!” I felt like I was with my friend. The way Redemption worked out, I’m rooting for her in the long run. I’m hoping she brings it home. At Redemption, I said, “Albert and Sophie, if she gets back in this game, you’d better team up with her. You have my word she will not screw you. She’s got you.” I’m rooting for her, rooting for Al, rooting for Sophie. Those are my three. I hope one of them brings home the movie. Everybody else? Fuggedaboutit. You know?
HitFix: Gotta ask about the pig challenge. How disgusting was that?
Mikayla: That was amazing! I haven’t eaten in two weeks and you throw a pig, lubed up in barbeque sauce, in front of me? It was awesome! I didn’t know what to say. I could not believe it came down to the two ounces. My family’s like, “Oh, five second rule!” And as soon as Rick dropped his meat, I was like, “Five second rule!” I knew Rick wasn’t gonna go down for it, because Rick has bad knees. We’d talked about his knees before. Me and Rick talked a lot in the past. And I knew as I went down, like “Alright, here we go.” Boom. It was great and we got to eat it after and it was fantastic. It’s funny, because we’d always laugh about it. We’d be sitting there and there’d be flies on our food and we’d be like, “If we were home, we’d have dumbed this, but right now, we’re like ‘A fly? That’s the least of our problems.'” “Something dropped on the ground?” “Oh, you spit in my food? Don’t worry. I’ll wash it off.” You’re like “That’ll be the day,” but it shows you, man, when you’re hungry, [stuff] don’t matter.
HitFix: So when you got to eat the pre-chewed pork, it was good?
Mikayla: It was phenomenal. We got the spices and everything. Ah! It was like heaven.
HitFix: You mentioned watching Ozzy’s big move. What did you make of his decision to ask to be sent to Redemption Island?
Mikayla: He’s craaaaazy. I’m watching and then I’m checking on a lot of the past Survivors on Facebook and Twitter and they’re all like, “He’s crazy” and “Is he out of his mind?” and “I’d never do that.” I couldn’t believe he did that. He’s nuts.
HitFix: So under no circumstances would you ever do the same thing?
Mikayla: Heck no! No way! He’s crazy!
HitFix: Several people, but Edna most prominently, indicated that they thought you were mostly doing this to advance an acting career or a modeling career. How much was “exposure” a part of your goal when you signed on to do this?
Mikayla: Personally, it had nothing to do with exposure. I grew up watching this with my mom and the main reason I did this was for my mom. You know? If you asked me to go to an island for 39 days for me? And not eat? I’d say, “You’re crazy.” But my mom? She is a super-fan. I did this for her. It stunk, when I’d fell sad… People, they would pray, but me, I would cry. My mom alway said, “Look at the sky. Look at the stars. We’re looking with you.” And I would sit there and I’d cry and I’d be like, “Gosh. All I want is a phone call right now. I just want to hear some crazy thing my little sister did in school today.” I did it for my mom. It had nothing to do with anything personal. It was straight: This is my mom’s favorite show. We always joked that she could never do it, so she was like, “Alright, you’ve gotta do it.” So when this all happened, I was just happy. I made it and she’s happy and as long as she’s happy, that’s all that matters.
HitFix: What’s your favorite response that your mom has had to watching you on “Survivor”?
Mikayla: Oh my gosh. She was so happy when I finally got the airtime and talked about Edna. I was like, “Come on, are you ever gonna shoot a buffalo?” And that’s me. I don’t have patience for ignorance. And she said she was rolling on the floor. She said she couldn’t stop laughing and she was so happy to finally have them show me. That’s me. She was so happy. She said, “Finally. You got your little moment.” And I was like, “Yeah.” She was ecstatic when that happened.