“Survivor 46” star Bhanu Gopal says he is 'coming to terms' with his outing

“Survivor 46” star Bhanu Gopal says he is 'coming to terms' with his outing

The ousted player talks about watching his emotional outbursts play out on TV.

Be careful what you wish for. Bhanu Gopal wanted nothing more than to compete on his favorite TV show, Survivor. But once he made it onto the island for Survivor 46, his dream turned into a full-on nightmare. Pretty much everything that could go wrong for Bhanu did, which resulted in him not only repeatedly collapsing and breaking down in tears, but also yelling at his God for putting him on the show in the first place.

It was one of the most intense and emotional runs in Survivor history, and that run came to an end this week when Bhanu was unanimously voted out of the game — a result that was such a forgone conclusion that host Jeff Probst did not even force the tribe to go through the charade of an official vote.

Why did it all go so wrong so fast for Bhanu? What was it like having to watch it all play back on TV? And how does he feel about his Yanu tribemates now? We caught up with the fourth player out of Survivor 46 to go through all of the good, the bad, and the ugly, and it turns out when all was said and done, the man after a million hearts got exactly what he wanted out of the experience.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You were not a case of someone who did not understand this game and how to play it. It’s your favorite show, you’ve seen every season. So what happened out there?

BHANU GOPAL: Dalton, I'm a super fan. Also, can I take a moment here to say that I'm so thankful for CBS and to Jeff Probst and the entire team of Survivor for giving me this opportunity, and for working tirelessly, and for giving us such a great season. And also to my fellow contestants, I love you all. From one superfan to all the other superfans out there, thank you so much for your love and support.

As a superfan of the show. I've seen it all — from season 1, episode 1 to the latest season of 45. I've seen all seasons, all episodes. I've seen how people have played. But when I envisioned Bhanu on the island, I thought: There is no one way of playing the game. I thought: Let me play my way, which is just try and see if honesty works or not, because when I looked at someone on the show. I just couldn't relate to it. It's a great gameplay, but is that how I want to play? I want to try something different. So that's what I did. I tried something different. Have I failed? I don't know because I read a quote last week and it said, “You're not a failure if you have tried.” So I have tried.

From what we saw on TV, you did a lot of asking people for help. Were there other moves you made or tried to make that we did not see?

At the start of the season, it's not that people were helping me or anything. Yes, I'm on the outside, but what the fans have not seen is how much I'm talking to Q, how much I'm talking to the other folks, saying “Who's the threat?” and “We need to get them out.” I'm strategizing constantly. And another thing which fans have not seen is my relationship with Jess. Jess is like my sister. She's my best friend. We love each other. What they've seen is a glimpse of me, a second of me just yelling her name. But what they haven't shown is the bond between me and Jess. We were all yelling at the challenge, and I was a little frustrated and just yelled the name. I apologized to Jess. I hope the fans of Jess out there forgive me for that.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> David Jelinsky, Kenzie Veurink, Bhanu Gopal, Tiffany Ervin, Q Burdette, and Jess Chong on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

David Jelinsky, Kenzie Veurink, Bhanu Gopal, Tiffany Ervin, Q Burdette, and Jess Chong on 'Survivor 46'

Bhanu, we've seen a lot worse in challenges over 46 seasons than yelling someone's name. I wouldn't worry too much about that. How did you feel about Q coaching you on how to answer Jeff’s questions at Tribal Council?

Q has good intentions, I guess. But what my tribe lacked right from the get-go is empathy, and that's why you saw the losses. We never sat as a tribe and just had that conversation. We were never able to communicate, and that's why we failed — and we failed miserably. Coordination, communication, such an integral part of being on Survivor and being on a tribe, and we never had empathy towards each other.

Which do you think was a bigger mistake, telling folks on the journey everything about your tribemates, or then telling your tribemates that you spilled the beans about them?

Dalton, the reason why I was so emotional on the journey is because I had nobody to talk to. And super fans should know and my fellow contestants also know that Survivor is a very tough game. You need one person who you can hold onto, like your ride or die. And I never had that. I am always on the outs.

So when I was on the journey — and right after one of the biggest losses because that day I would've gone home — so when I saw Ben and Liz, I just bawled. I was like, “Hey, I'm going out. This is what's happening.” But when the miracle happened and I get to stay, I wanted to talk to Tiffany. I wanted my tribe to know from me, because what if there is another journey the next day and one of them goes on the journey and finds out from the other tribes that Bhanu has said these things?

So that's why I wanted to come clean and say that “Hey, you can trust me because I am telling you what I did, but I am with you if you want to work with me.” That's the message I wanted to convey. But it was received in a different way. I wanted to show that I'm a trustworthy and honest guy. "This happened because I'm on the outside. If you work with me, we will go till the end, I promise." Because you've seen me, Dalton. I'm very good at challenges. I'm never like, “Oh no, I can't do this.” No, I never once sulked about not sleeping for nine days. I never sulked about not eating nothing. I wanted to play the game. And my strategy was, get me to the merge and then I'm going to get myself to the final. That's the thing. But how do you get it? I wanted to play the honest game. I wanted to show that they can trust me, but it backfired.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Bhanu Gopal on 'Survivor 46'

So I want to talk about a scene that really struck me a lot, Bhanu, and this might be difficult to talk about for you, but it's the scene where it's maybe your lowest point where you're pointing at the sky and you're yelling at your God for putting you on the show — the same God we've seen you praying to throughout your journey. And that to me was Survivor at its most raw. Can you walk me through what was going on in that moment for you?

[Starts to choke up] You got me emotional right there.

Yeah, I knew this would be tough. Take your time.

So when I go for walks, which I do every day, I talk to myself, or to my conscience — and through that I actually just communicate. So I was telling myself and I was talking and saying: What could I do in order to stay in the game? Just give me something. Because by then I lost my vote, I've lost trust, and then we're losing as a tribe. So I had no agency, I had no vote, no nothing.

So when everything fails, as someone said, you turn to God. And that's what you see. When everything falls, when logic is out, that's when you turn to God. And I was like. “Show me that you're listening to me.” And then you see a glimmer of that rainbow. So God is saying that, “No, we don't want you to change because what if they train you and you become something else that you are not. No honey, go home.”

Maybe that's what it is. And I would take that as a miracle because people are trying to teach me, coach me, which I don't need it. I'm a super fan. I've seen every episode on every season of Survivor. Jeff Probst is my guru. That man had taught me so much through the screen. I don't need coaching more than Jeff Probst did.  It's just that the game went the way it went. It's the luck of the draw. Had we won the challenge, I would've gone to the next one and then I would've like: Okay, how do I get through this? So I was playing one day at a time and maybe I should have thought 10 days ahead.

The reason Survivor can be so hard is that you go out there, and we saw how emotional and difficult it was for you, then nine months later you have to go through it all again watching it play back on TV. How was that for you? What was it like having to watch some of those scenes play back on TV?

The past nine months, I haven't forgotten a single thing that happened on the show. I've been thinking: How I could have played the game, and shoulda, coulda, wouldas. But then after watching it, it's like ripping off the Band-aid. And seeing my journey on the show, I am now coming to terms with it. Yes, the superfans would be like, “Dude, we want you to play the game!” And I know as a superfan if I'm rooting for Bhanu, I want Bhanu to just play the strategic game and just go to the next level. And I just understand why superfans are frustrated with me, but I also see their love and support. So thank you guys so much. It means a lot to me.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Kenzie Petty, Tiffany Ervin, Bhanu Gopal, and Q Burdette on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Kenzie Petty, Tiffany Ervin, Bhanu Gopal, and Q Burdette on 'Survivor 46'

 How do you feel about your Yanu tribemates now?

The whole of the 18 people of season 46, we are one family. I'm wishing them all the luck. Go fight it out.

What did you think about Jeff not having everyone go up and vote and just sort of having you come up and get your torch snuffed and not going through that formality, because that was pretty unique.

Well you said it. It is unique, and I cannot fault my guru. I respect the man so much. And as you said, it's unique. So let it be unique.

What was it like for you right after you did have your torch snuffed. You go off and you eat a bunch of food, I hope. But how was your mental state after you got off the island?

When my torch got snuffed, did you miss the next part? I got a hug from my guru! My guru Jeff Probst hugged me! Show me any season where Jeff snuffs the torch and gives the contestant a hug without them asking for it. He hugged me, and that that's all I needed, his blessings. And I know fans would be like, “Oh my god, this guy!” But I went there for a personal journey and a lot of people are saying, “Oh, why did you go on the game if you were not there to win a million dollars?” I was born into poverty. I know the value of money more than anybody else. It’s only 10 years ago I moved to the U.S. I know the value of money, but if I am saying that people's love and support is more than a million dollars, I truly mean it because that's what it is.

I've made it this far in life because of hard work, being humble, and being honest. Not conniving, deceiving, saying bad things about people. No, that wouldn't get you far in life. Dalton, when you talk to someone, would you say give me a diplomatic answer or would you say, give me an honest opinion? I want to be that Survivor player where people say, “You know what, Bhanu is different. He's an honest man.” So it's not like when they look at Survivor player, they'd be like, “Oh my God, we don't know how they are. They're not honest people." No.

Well, I always say I want to see raw emotion and honesty, and you definitely delivered that in huge amounts. And I appreciate you for being honest with your emotions out there.

Thank you so much. And I'll leave you with this. A fan tweeted saying that her 7-year-old daughter last night when watching the show, she cried saying that, “Mom, why are they voting Bhanu off? He doesn't want a million dollars. He wants a million hearts.” Dalton, a 7-year-old. That's what I'm leaving the kids and families with.

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