Ben Katzman says the “Survivor” jury 'didn't want to hear anything I had to say'

Ben Katzman says the “Survivor” jury 'didn't want to hear anything I had to say'

The third-place finisher also reveals where his potential tiebreaker vote would have gone.

In one respect, Ben Katzman's Survivor experience was a nightmare. Multiple nightmares, actually. Ben suffered from night terrors and nighttime panic attacks while out on the island — disrupting his sleep and leaving him so discombobulated at times that he actually once voted for the wrong person at Tribal Council. But Ben also achieved glory on Survivor 46. Not only did he make it all the way to the end of the game, but he won the final immunity challenge to put himself there, where he ultimately lost to Kenzie Petty and Charlie Davis, 5-3-0.

How does Ben feel about being shut out in the end? What about his game did we not see in the final edit on TV? And who would have voted for to take home the $1 million had he been the tiebreaker? We give the shredding guitarist the solo (interview) he so richly deserves. Let's turn this one up to 11.

<p>CBS</p> Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'


Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How were you feeling about your chances walking into that final Tribal Council?

BEN KATZMAN: My whole story isn't shown. I knew I didn't really have a shot, but I just wanted a chance to explain my game, and then my game wasn't shown either. So before Tribal, the reason I really picked Charlie — he was my best friend. From day one before the merge, you see us really rocking out, but we played a close game together. It's even alluded to by what other people say. And then Kenzie was also my friend from the merge, so I knew my chances.

Maria had been calling me a liar the whole game, Q sunk my game, but I was like, "At the very least I can tell my piece and hopefully the two people that helped me out could get their chance." Yeah, it's a game for a million dollars and the gloves could come off, but you saw that jury — I'm not an idiot. I can read the room. You know what I mean? So yeah, that's what I have to say about that.

Did any votes surprise you?

Yeah, obviously the Maria one, I am not trying to throw shade here, but those two were super-tight. It was very obvious, and I don't know, there wasn't really a bond with Kenzie the whole game on that front. I'm going to sound so bitter in this press. But yeah, I remember sitting there, and when we found out who voted for who, I think that was like, "Wow, I wonder what was behind that." I mean, personally, we didn't have a great friendship out there. I comforted Maria the two times we lost on Siga and she was going through it. And even after she sunk my game and she didn't get letters from home, I prepared papaya and fed her and just told her she can talk it out. I just tried to be human.

I don't know what it was, but that one really made no sense. Q made total sense to me. I mean, he literally wrote, "Yanu 1." I think for him, he just wanted Yanu to win. And that's no disrespect to Kenzie either. She was a threat. People did talk about that the whole time, and she knew her position in the game, and I think she really did do a good job at final Tribal. To me it's not about who the winner is, it's just analyzing the relationships going into those votes.

<p>CBS</p> Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'


Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'

Related: Survivor 46 finale recap: A stunning vote from a juror tips the scales

So let's play a game of Survivor what-if: Say Maria does vote for Charlie to win, and then it's 4 to 4 and you become the all-important tiebreaking vote. Who are you handing $1 million to?

The jury management I did was 4 to 4, and it could have gone both ways. But my friendship with Charlie isn't really shown on camera, and he was there just as much with me, and we downplayed our friendship to a lot of people. I don't think Maria knew how close Charlie and I were. I don't think Q knew. And a lot of the times when I was having panic attacks or not sleeping, Charlie and I would go for a walk, because I've got to be honest — other than Venus, Liz, Kenzie and Charlie, it's not like anybody asked how I was doing out there. I think they were like, "We don't want to deal with that" — which is fine. I didn't want to be a burden.

But that gave me and Charlie a window to hang out completely unbothered. And we would talk about the game a lot, and there was just something more than just being a friend in the middle of the night talking about Taylor Swift and Metallica. Charlie's like that brother you have where you've got nothing in common, but you're so fascinated by each other. And there was even a moment before that Tribal that wasn't shown where on the last night, day 25, I had my worst night terror. I went down to the beach to be by myself and Charlie said something like, "Frodo carried the ring to the top of Mount Doom, but he couldn't make it all the way. So Sam carried Frodo, and I'm going to carry Ben." And he threw me on his shoulder and marched me back up the stairs.

Me and him talk about that moment all the time. And that's no disrespect — Kenzie too, she was also there for me. We vibed super-hard, but that bromance was really downplayed, and I spent the most time with Charlie than I did anybody else. And he played hard. So that's where my vote would've gone.

<p>CBS</p> Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'


Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'

Related: The Survivor 46 final 5 speak!

How difficult was it to sit there during the after-show while you are processing your loss of a just a few minutes prior?

Well, it's no secret the jury was bitter. Nobody asked me questions. I mean, I'm not saying they're bitter in the outcome, but they didn't want to hear anything I had to say. Tiff said, "Time!" every 30 seconds. Even though it's not shown, I said at one point, "I know the votes probably won't go my way tonight, but I would love to express my gameplay." And believe it or not, the one person that did give me props from the jury was Q. I had said a bunch of poignant things that weren't shown, and people were calling me a liar. And Q goes, "That actually happened. I can corroborate, Ben did do that." So as much as Q and I had a weird relationship, I think he was very fair in his mind towards how I was handled.

But you see them laughing when I'm talking in the edit, so it is what it is. And regarding the after-show, I just wanted to eat. And it was so funny, Jeff [Probst] was passing around pizza and I was just trying to stuff my face so I wouldn't get called on to talk. I know it wasn't shown, but I did play, and I didn't get a chance to have my voice. And I sat there being like, "How would any of these people feel if I didn't ask them a question? And then now I have to raise champagne with them?"

And that's why I'm grateful for the friends I did make on the jury. I mean, I'm friends with mostly everybody now. We've all talked about it. I'm not trying to have those feelings for the rest of my life. But Hunter was really nice out there. I think Venus asked good questions. It was a lot. And if we could have just had 10 minutes for the final three to just hug each other without the chaos, I think it could have gone a little different. But you see how dazed we were.

<p>CBS</p> Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'


Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'

Related: Charlie Davis reveals conversations with Maria after controversial Survivor vote

What were some of those things that you were saying to promote your game that either we didn't see or the jury didn't respond to?

Yeah, the Q smoke screen. You can put the two together, but Q sunk my game. He wanted me out a few times. Obviously Tim went home, but I knew once Q did that whole thing where he pretended that he wanted to quit, I was like, "Okay, I know where he stands. People are over it. I'll work with him in a bizarre capacity." And we didn't talk much, but there were conversations where we were like, "I do have to be mean to you. Everybody knows I dislike you the most. And if I'm not selling it at Tribal…"

And you even see it before we vote at most of those Tribals. I'm the loudest one with my distaste towards Q, but I never wrote his name down until it's time for him to go. And other people have talked about it, Venus was like, "If you weren't so loud about Q, I would've totally not fell for it." I felt like for a guy that had such power in the game and made it further, that's a kind of an insane move for nobody to know. You're kind of working with him in this Nicolas Cage, John Travolta Face/Off dynamic.

So that one was cool. And also even at the Tribal where he goes home, everybody's wearing my clothes. Kenzie has my vest, Charlie has my bandana, I'm wearing the Q Skirt. Maria's wearing my overalls. Q and Maria thought I had no idea what was going on the whole time, even though I was on the right side of the votes, minus the accidental one. I let them think I had no idea what was going on, but they couldn't see past their own game. The fact that I had Liz from the journey, Kenzie and I were chilling at the merge, and Charlie was my day-one.

And also those two never talked strategy to us. They only ever told us what to do. So when it came down to final seven and Venus was still in the game, there was this convo of like, "They're never going to believe we're working together. They can't even see that." And I was pretty proud of the fact that we just totally disarmed them with this fashion show.

<p>CBS</p> Maria Shrime Gonzalez and Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'


Maria Shrime Gonzalez and Ben Katzman on 'Survivor 46'

Related: Maria Shrime Gonzalez defends her controversial Survivor 46 jury vote

We need to talk about the mistaken vote for Kenzie. What happened there?

It was like the most backhanded compliment to be invited to that pizza party. Q and Maria never talked to me and they're like, "We want you at final three with us. We should write Kenzie in case somebody plays an idol tonight." And I wasn't supposed to write it. Q was. And it's funny, Venus had snapped on me that day, so I was already over it and I hadn't eaten for eight or nine days. I had the pizza, but I also had orange soda, so it was a lot of sugar and caffeine.

We're in the voting booth, and I hope they release the footage, but I'm ranting about Venus snapping at me like, "Venus, we've been homies, but you snapped at me for no reason!" And as I put it down, it was like, "Oh f---." It just was like a total slip of the brain. And so I come down and I whisper to Q, "Yo, I wrote Kenzie" — which was an accident, but when I was asked about it at final Tribal, I said that was my big mistake that actually allowed me to drive a wedge between those two when we called ourselves the bottom four. So it kind of worked out great.

Let's talk about that final immunity challenge. How does the dude who can't even sleep win a puzzle challenge that also requires one to split attention between two things?

I don't know. "Pinball Wizard" started playing in my head, and it just became a rhythm thing. It was like playing music or something. I don't know what came over me. I grew up playing pinball in arcades. My parents worked long hours and I was good at puzzles. Even two challenges prior. Jeff said, "Ben catching up for the first time on the dolphin puzzle," or something like that.

But at that moment I remember telling myself, "Even if you don't win this one, just go have fun." And I just took myself out of it and went for it. And it was very rhythmic. I would throw the ball, I would do the puzzle, I'd turn around, and I'd just make it at the right time every time. And Charlie got into the pipe twice. Liz threw her ball over, Kenzie did too. I had no mistakes in that one. And I was dazed when Jeff put the necklace on me, I was seeing double. It was bad, but to wear that necklace at least once was like Survivor bucket list. Let's go!

<p>CBS</p> The Siga tribe on 'Survivor 46'


The Siga tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Related: Survivor 46 finale exclusive deleted scene shows 'final several minus 2'

We saw a lot of your fun vibes and Van Halen references and stuff, and we saw a lot of you struggling at night with the panic attacks and night terrors. What about your game did we not see?

I was a social player. The edit shows everybody saying that about me. And I got thrust into the bottom. Once Tim got out, that secret scene shows me and Charlie really bonding, and this is how I viewed the game. Yes, Maria and Charlie were portrayed as the middle, but Maria didn't talk to Liz or Venus or Kenzie. She only talked amongst the secret six. So Charlie would talk to Tevin, Hunter, whoever, and then I would talk to the other four, and we'd meet in the middle and swing votes multiple times.

And you see it in the Hunter episode. I was tight with Tiff, and something that wasn't shown was Kenzie told me she was willing to flip on Tiff, and I ran to Charlie and Maria. I'm like, "She's willing to flip. We can get Tiff out, but act surprised when she comes and tells you." And that's why we went for Hunter that day and Tiff the next day. We knew the idol was there and it was the one time to get Hunter out. So two votes in a row, the swing vote really did matter. And I felt like I knew my position in the bottom well enough to swing it whichever way I felt was enough for me to stay in the game.

Check out the rest our other Survivor 46 finale coverage, including one-on-one chats with Kenzie, Charlie, Liz, and Maria; an exclusive deleted scene; interviews with the final five and the jury; and our full episode recap and look ahead to next season.

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